Tag Archives: The Gig Center

Roundup: Positano, Poll Workers, Church Aid, More

A sign in Positano’s window says, “We are closed.”

The phone message elaborates: “We are now closed. We wish the new owners the best of luck. We thank our customers for their patronage over the last 20 years. Arrivederci!”

The popular Italian restaurant opened in July 2015 next to the Westport Country Playhouse. It relocated there from Old Mill Beach after a long run, replacing the Dressing Room restaurant founded by Paul Newman and Michel Nischan.

Despite what the sign says, Positano is now closed.

It’s the perfect storm: Election Day this November will be held during a pandemic. Officials traditionally rely on retirees to serve as poll workers. But finding willing workers may be hard this year, as older people opt not to spend hours indoors, assisting voters in close quarters.

Which makes this the perfect opportunity for another group affected by COVID-19: college students, forced off campus and back home for distance learning.

Poll workers earn around $200 a day. Some work half days (5:15 a.m. to 1 p.m., or 12:45 p.m. until the end of voting) for half pay. During the recent primary election, full-day workers also received a meal allowance of about $40 (subject to change).

Training is required. Before the coronavirus, the session was 2 hours. Video conferencing may lengthen the presentation.

Registrars also seek high schoolers in the past. They’ve been great in the past — especially with recent technological advances. There is no school on Election Day.

Interested students — or anyone else — can contact registeredvoters@westportct.gov for more information. (Hat tip: Lynn Goldberg)

Westport poll workers, in 2017.

This Sunday (August 30, 1-4 p.m.), Saugatuck Church runs a food drive to support Person to Person in Norwalk.

Non-perishable food can be dropped off in the church parking lot. Volunteers will collect donations directly from drivers’ trunks. Among the most needed items:

• Spaghetti sauce
• Pasta
• Canned vegetables
• Dry red or black beans
• Jam and jelly
• Mac and cheese
• Granola/snack bars.

Saugatuck Congregational Church (Photo/Storm Sorrentino)

In other religious/community caring news: Every Saturday, David Vita — director of social justice of Westport’s Unitarian Church — brings hundreds of brown bag lunches to take Bridgeport shelters.

The lunches — of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, a drink, snack and a treat — are made by church members.

Since April 18, over 4,000 lunches have been made and distributed. To help, email david@uuwwestport.org or call 203-227-7205, ext. 14.

Westport Unitarian Church.

Yesterday’s Roundup noted that Balducci’s parent company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

An email from the store’s CEO Judy Spires to customers says: “Our stores will continue to be fully operational, offering the quality product and selections you have come to expect. And of course, they will continue to be staffed by all of your favorite people. Please be assured that the wages and benefits of all of our Associates will continue as usual, and our Associates will continue to provide you with the top-quality service you depend on.”

How to rehearse in a pandemic? Outdoors.

The other night, Any Given Thursday — that’s the band’s name — held its final session before their show at Black Rock’s BRYAC (Thursday, August 27, 5 p.m.). They tuned up outside the Gig Center on the Post Road, near Southport.

A small crowd stopped by. It will be bigger on any given Thursday — well, this coming one, at least. (Hat tip: Lou Weinberg)

“06880” loves the Little Free Libraries popping up all over town. It’s simple: bring a book, or borrow a book. That’s it!

Amy Schneider spotted this one at 11 Hillyfield Lane, off Marion Road:

And finally … Happy 76th birthday to Walter Williams of the O’Jays!

Westport’s Newest Gig

For over 50 years the Westport Music Center was the place to go for lessons, instrument rentals, repairs, musical books and accessories. Then they added  the Gig Center, a space for kids (and adults) to learn music history, recording and songwriting skills — and play live. The only thing missing was groupies.

The Westport Music Center closed a year ago. But the Gig Center’s Jim Reilly found new space — in the old Kidville store — and reopened there. With the same great instructors (including former Music Center owner Steve Sasloe), it was a hoppin’ place.

A few months later though, COVID-91 struck. For weeks, Westport shut down. Like so many others, the Gig Center’s instructors headed online.

But when Connecticut began reopening, Reilly realized his facility was big enough to accommodate (properly distanced) rock musicians. Plexiglas dividers separate the singers, saxophonists and trumpeters (they’re most at risk for spreading droplets).

These days, Reilly says, the Gig Center is the only place around where people can play music together safely.

The Gig Center

Of course, not everyone is comfortable coming in. So the Center created a system for people to play live online. Their music is broadcast into the Gig Center, so everyone jams together — without the delay that bedevils Zoom conferences.

At the end of a normal “semester,” the band plays at a local bar. This time, they’ll gig at an outdoor venue, in August.

For more information, click here or call 203-292-8934.

So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star

For over 50 years, the Westport Music Center has been the place to go for lessons, instrument rentals and repairs, musical books and accessories.

Now it’s the place to go to be a rock star.

In the back of the sprawling space underneath the former Pier 1 store on the Post Road — past all those instruments and sheet music — aspiring musicians gather at the Gig Center.

It’s the brainchild of Steve Sasloe. Last year, the longtime owner built 2 state-of-the-art studios. In the afternoons they’re filled with kids. At night, adults come. Under the guidance of pros, they learn music history, recording and songwriting skills.

And they play.

But the Gig Center is not just a rehearsal space. These guys (and girls) end with a live show. All that’s missing are groupies.

“Growing up, we formed our own bands,” Sasloe says. “But you don’t see a lot of ‘Guitarist Needed’ signs anymore.”

Steve Sasloe (left) and Gig Center show instructor Josh Auchterlonie.

Enter the Gig Center. Sasloe and his crew do the legwork. They form bands, bringing together guitar players, drummers, keyboardists, singers, even brass and woodwind sections.

They lead rehearsals, and arrange performances. (This year’s venue: Kieran’s Place, at the Smith-Richardson golf course.)

Music ranges from the ’60s to today. Sasloe says the tweens and teens who are attracted to the Gig Center — some of whom already take private lessons there — appreciate the roots of rock.

But their voices are not always the same as Mick Jagger, John Fogerty, Tom Petty, Patti Smith or Kurt Cobain. So Sasloe and his staff change keys, as necessary.

For kids, the Gig Center offers a chance to be in a real band — something not easy to do, in today’s STEM-and-sports-filled world.

A Gig Center band. From left: Audrey Blau, Annabel Blau, Freddie Aldridge, Lili Aldridge, Lucas Nilsson. All live in Westport.

Adults get an opportunity to get back to a passion that fell by the wayside, once “real life” intruded. Or, Sasloe says, to “cross ‘rock ‘n’ roll musician’ off their bucket list.”

The results are impressive. The 2 studios crackle with the sounds of music.

But it’s about as far from “The Sound of Music” as you can get.

Rock on!

(Hat tip: Suzanne Sherman Propp)