Today’s New York Times Men’s Style feature on Nile Rodgers — nominated 9 times for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but never an inductee — starts off this way:
“My attitude is that there are plenty of buildings that want to have me. Why would I want to live in a building where they don’t?” said Mr. Rogers, drawing a metaphor from Manhattan real estate, where he learned over the years that he was sometimes too famous or too black to appeal to everyone’s tastes.
As it happened, Mr. Rodgers was milling about on a recent afternoon not in his Upper West Side co-op but in his six-bedroom compound in Westport, Conn.
The view of the Long Island Sound stretched for miles, the furniture included Louis XIV chairs and ancient Chinese beds, and the walls were covered in platinum records he earned producing hits for Madonna, David Bowie, Chic and Sister Sledge.
The story is an intriguing look into our neighbor’s recent collaboration with Kylie Minogue, Janelle Monae, Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Hugh Jackman; his gig next spring at Coachella; his past encounters with cocaine (it’s been replaced with stevia), and his Westport life since 1994 (including his battle with prostate cancer).
To read more about the full story about this fascinating — and very stylish — Westporter, click here.
Westporter Mark Naftalin is going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And not just to see the exhibits.
The keyboardist will be inducted in April, along with fellow members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The seminal blues-rock band joins Ringo Starr, Green Day, Joan Jett, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bill Withers in the “Class of 2015.”
Mark Naftalin (3rd from left) with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
According to the Hall of Fame website, Naftalin — along with bandmates including Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop —
converted the country-blues purists and turned on the Fillmore generation to the pleasures of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon and Elmore James. With the release of their blues-drenched debut album in the fall of 1965, and its adventurous “East-West” followup in the summer of 1966, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band kicked open a door that brought a defining new edge to rock and roll.
And they played at Monterey:
After leaving the band in 1968, Naftalin — the son of former Minneapolis mayor Arthur Naftalin — produced records, concerts, festivals and radio shows.
He started his own label, recording with Duane Allman, Canned Heat, Percy Mayfield, John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush, Big Joe Turner and James Cotton.
He’s been a sideman on over 100 albums — including the great jangly piano riff on Brewer & Shipley’s “One Toke Over the Line.”
Last night, Naftalin reflected on what he calls “a great honor.” He is proud of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s interracial makeup; grateful to have worked with such creative, energetic musicians, and gratified that from the 1960s through today, people tell him the group’s music meant something to them.
“We’ve gotten fervent testimonials that we helped get someone through high school, college or Vietnam,” Naftalin said.
“And a number of musicians have said they were drawn to exploring blues music because of our influence. It’s a real privilege to be a little part of that.”
Mark Naftalin today.
He and his wife Ellen — a 1967 Staples High School grad — started coming to Westport in 1991, the year they got married in the house she grew up in. They moved here permanently in 2002.
Naftalin will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April. You can go to Cleveland for the ceremony.
Or you can head to the Westport Historical Society on December 31. From 6-8 p.m. he’s at the electric piano, part of his 7th annual First Night gig.
You can catch “Mark Naftalin and Friends” at the Pequot Library too, the weekend of January 17-18. He’ll play the Steinway concert grand.
It’s a long way from Monterey to Westport. But that detour to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame makes it all worthwhile.
To the long list of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees who have played in Westport — the Animals, Beach Boys, Ray Charles, Cream, Doors, Rascals, Sly and the Family Stone, Smokey Robinson — add the 1st woman: Ronnie Spector.
On April 1 the “original bad girl of rock” — the Ronettes’ lead singer on mondo hits like “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain,” as well as a virtual prisoner while married to “Wall of Sound” production genius/murderer Phil Spector — comes to town with Band Together. The “HeArt & Soul” event — at the Westport Country Playhouse — benefits Save the Children.
Band Together CT unites talented musicians with concerned citizens to raise money for local and national charities, environmental issues and families in need. The total is over $450,000 — and the Westport show should add significantly to it.
Ronnie Spector is just 1 of the many top musicians set to appear — though definitely the biggest.
Also scheduled: “Saturday Night Live” band singer Christine Ohlman; soul singers Gisele Jackson and Susan Didrichsen; Elliot Lewis from Hall and Oates (who did not play here); Jeremy Chatzky (Ronnie Spector’s musical director and bassist, who recorded and toured with Bruce Springsteen), and Westport native Tim DeHuff.
Ronnie Spector is well into her Social Security years. But judging from the photo above — and the stories I’ve heard about her annual Christmas show with Darlene Love at B.B. King’s New York club— she can still bring it on.
(The April 1 benefit also includes a sale of original works donated by local artists to support Haiti relief efforts. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association is producing the event. Doors open at 7 p.m.; the show begins at 8. Tickets, at $36 each, are available at the Playhouse or by calling 203-227-4177.)
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