Moments before the 2nd annual Holiday Stroll yesterday, the weather cleared.
Hundreds of Westporters of all ages — including tons of kids — headed downtown.
A small part of the large crowd. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
They met Santa, dropped off letters to him, and gave gifts for the PAL toy drive. They had their faces painted, and got animal balloons.
11-year-old Owen Hill (blue jacket) provided animal balloons for dozens of even younger kids. (Photo/Dan Woog)
They were serenated by Staples High School’s Orphenians, and Greens Farms Academy’s Harbor Blues. They wandered all around downtown too, joining in carols led by professional singer Nick Calabrese (plus 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker).
Nick Calabrese leads carolers. No, the teenagers are not checking their notifications. They’re reading the lyrics to holiday songs. (Photo/Dan Woog)
They nibbled free food and drank hot chocolate at a dozen restaurants, and snagged giveaways and discounts at a few dozen shops.
Garlic knots at Joe’s Pizza! (Photo/Dan Woog)
It was a magical evening. Thanks to the Westport Downtown Association, which partnered with “06880” for the event.
And to the weather gods, who delivered big time when we needed it most.
Staples Orphenians, directed by Luke Rosenberg, offered wonderful music … (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
… and the crowd grew larger with every song. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Both 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and a young constituent were decked out in blinking lights. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Aarti Khosla offered hot chocolate at her Le Rouge chocolatier. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
Nomade handed out candied almonds in bamboo cones — and chocolate chip cookies. (Photo/Dan Woog)
The main tent was outside Cold Fusion. There were plenty of treats inside too. (Photo/Dan Woog)
More hot chocolate, at Manna Toast. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Savvy + Grace put out holiday treats. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
WEST owner Kitt Shapiro drew crowds with a $150 gift card raffle. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Some kids mailed letters to Santa in the Savvy + Grace mailbox … (Photo/Dan Woog)
… and some parents handed them directly to “Santa.” (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
Santa greeted youngsters, who were excited … (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
… and serious … (Photo/Dan Woog)
… and who photo-bombed him. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Santa was also popular with Greens Farms Academy’s Harbor Blues, after they sang. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Westport PAL collected gifts for kids in need. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Staples freshman Ava Carter and friend Nelly Kaminski painted dozens of young faces. (Photo/Jen Cirino)
The 2nd annual Holiday Stroll was sponsored by “06880” and the Westport Downtown Association. We’re already getting ready for next year’s! (Photo/Dan Woog)
(If you enjoyed last night’s Holiday Stroll, please support “06880.” Click here — and thank you!)
You won’t find Brody Braunstein in Westport this week. He’s in Australia, singing and touring with Staples High School’s elite Orphenians.
Music is the rising junior’s passion. He is also a member of the Fairfield County Children’s Choir, has sung at Carnegie Hall, and is lead singer for the popular band Kill the Chill.
In addition to singing, Brody plays piano, keyboard and guitar. He’s taken college classes in music production software. He’s a published songwriter. And he built a sound studio in his house.
Yet Brody understands that he can’t work creatively alone.
“Technology is great. It’s pretty much given everyone access to the tools they need to make music,” he says.
“But just like in real life, technology in music can be isolating. You’ve got all these amazingly talented aspiring artists sitting in their bedrooms creating music on Garage Band. There’s access, but no connection to other people. No give and take.”
A few months ago, Brody heard Edge say that much of U2’s early creative process took place in the recording studio. The band went in with a vague idea and rudimentary tracks — and emerged with something they loved.
Unfortunately, Edge noted, that does not happen much today. Studio time is too expensive.
Brody — who realizes how lucky he is to have so many resources — had a flash of inspiration.
The result: Studio 8.
It’s a not-for-profit collaborative recording studio for teens. And run by teens.
No, it’s not a full, professionally equipped studio. But it has everything a young artist needs to record, mix and master their music.
It also has Brody to help.
And it’s free.
Brody Braunstein, at work in his home studio.
It’s also just one part of what Brody does. This fall, he’ll begin working with youngsters at KEYS. The Bridgeport organization provides music education to underserved communities.
It’s an amazing group, as Brody knows from previous experience. He’ll work with the choir this year — and hopes he can get them to record in Studio 8.
Meanwhile, Brody invites young people in the area to lay down tracks, test out a new piece, flesh out a cover or record something for a college portfolio.
He’s also looking for videographers, social media experts and sound editors (especially those into rap or EDM) to join Studio 8.
Brody is Down Under until July 21. Once he’s back, you can reach him by email: Studio8Collaborative@gmail.com.
(Studio 8 is free — but donations to the KEYS program are gratefully accepted. Use Brody’s email above for more information.)
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