Tag Archives: Verso Studios

Roundup: Pickleball, Trampolines, Duck Race …

The agenda for next Monday’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting (July 11, 7 p.m., Zoom) includes important discussions, such as converting the current Westport Rehabilitation Complex on Post Road West into a more modern eldercare facility, and redeveloping the 117-room Westport Inn into a smaller hotel with a restaurant, bar, event space, fitness center, pool and site improvements.

The existing Westport Inn (left), and the proposed new structure.

Two other interesting items are up for discussion too.

Birchwood Country Club wants to construct 4 pickleball courts, near their existing tennis courts. They’d fill a need — at least, for members of the private club — but they’re close to a few homes.

The ball will be in P&Z’s court.

The other intriguing item involves trampolines: Should they be regulated by zoning? And if so, how?

Most trampolines are above ground. But what about permanent, in-ground trampolines? A resident has asked for an interpretation.

Click here for the full P&Z agenda, including a Zoom link.

In-ground trampoliine.

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Westport Sunrise Rotary’s Great Duck Race returns this Saturday (July 9). There’s a new location — Jesup Green — but the same family fun.

The day begins with a 10 a.m. Fun Fair in the Westport Library parking lot. Activities include a Nerdy Derby, face painting and bubble machines.

At 1 p.m. on Jesup Green, 3,000 plastic ducks will slide down a 160-foot sluice course. Each wears a number, matching a $20 raffle ticket. The first 10 ducks down the course win money for their ticket holders. First place is $5,000. Second place wins $1,000. The next 8 finishers get $500 each.

The event is a major Sunrise Rotary fundraiser. Proceeds support charitable endeavors in this area, the state and around the world.

Click here for tickets. Click below for a sneak quack peek.

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The Great Duck Race is not the only water-related activity this weekend.

Sunday marks the 43rd annual Westport Weston Family YMCA’s Point-to-Point Compo Beach Swim. The mile-long event includes competitors from across New England and the tri-state region.

All proceeds go to the Y’s aquatics programs to improve aquatics safety in the community, including swim lessons for all ages.

There are 4 heats, based on ability. Advanced swimmers start at 8 a.m., followed by intermediate swimmers (8:05), beginners (8:10) and myTeamTriumph (8:15).

That last group is special. My Team Triumph is a national non-profit serving children, teens adults and veterans with disabilities who could otherwise not experience endurance events like open water swims, road races, or triathlons.

“Captains” (special needs athletes) are paired with able-bodied “angel” volunteers, who use specialized racing equipment such as rafts to pull their captains during the race. Special needs athletes who would like to participate must register in advance with My Team Triumph.

Eegistration can be done online at westporty.org/43rd and is $50. Walk-registrations costs $60, starting at 7 a.m. The top 3 men’s and women’s finishers win awards. Swimmers get Point-to-Point swim caps and t-shirts.

The start of the Point-to-Point swim.

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No small potatoes: 19 teenagers and 9 adults just returned from Saugatuck Congregational Church’s High School Youth Group mission trip to Maine,

They stayed in Old Orchard Beach, and worked on a Growing to Give farm in Brunswick. The organization raises organic vegetables using climate-friendly methods, and donates them to food banks and pantries.

The youth group also cleared trails for the Saco Land Trust.

Saugatuck Church youth group, in Maine.

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Whatever’s old is new again.

Back in the day, movies like “Casablanca” drew large audiences to drive-in theaters across America.

Most drive-ins are long gone. But Westport has one: The Remarkable Theater, in the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Last night’s screening was (of course) “Casablanca.” Here’s a classic photo, of a classic scene:

(Photo/Pippa Bell Ader)

Next up: “Caddyshack,” on Monday. Click here for tickets, and the full schedule.

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Westport Lifestyle Magazine’s July issue is out. Among the highlights: a deep dive into the Westport Library’s Verso studios. Click here to learn more about the professional-quality production facilities right under our noses (and open to the public).

One of the Verso studios. (Photo/Brendan Toller for Westport Lifestyle Magazine)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is this visitor to Franco Fellah’s garden. Judging by its looks, I wonder if there is anything left for Franco to eat.

(Photo/Franco Fellah)

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And finally … on this date in 1928, sliced bread was sold for the first time (on the inventor’s 48th birthday) by the Chillicothe Baking Company of  Missouri.

There is no record of when the phrase “the greatest thing since sliced bread!” was coined.

(“06880” may not be the greatest thing since sliced bread. But we do rely “greatly” — okay, entirely — on reader support. Please click here to help.)

South By Southwest Meets Westport: Library Hosts Music & Media Festival

It’s been a while since a librarian “shushed” a patron at the Westport Library.

Like many other libraries, ours evolved into a town center. It’s a place for conversation and community. There’s a MakerSpace for discovery, a café for coffee, a stage with a beautiful piano.

But it’s unlikely that any library has done what Westport’s will do April 8-10. That’s the weekend for VersoFest: a unique, immersive music and media festival and conference.

For 3 days, the Library will rock even more than usual.

Concerts, panels and workshops with Grammy winners, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member, actors, movie studio executives, legendary journalists and famous songwriters — VersoFest promises something for everyone.

Lez Zeppelin — a Led Zeppelin tribute band — kicks off the festival Friday night. Spin Magazine calls them “the most powerful all-female band in rock history,” and Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page gave thumbs-up to their blistering arrangements and note-for-note sounds.

Lez Zeppelin will rock the Westport Library.

Talking Heads fans get a double dose on Saturday. In the afternoon, co-founder and drummer Chris Frantz joins WPKN general manager Steve DiCostanzo in a livestreamed conversation about Frantz’s new memoir, Remain in Love.

Chris Frantz

That night, Chris Frantz Presents Emerging Artists showcases Enid Ze, a futuristic African pop band from Bridgeport. Their debut album was produced by composer Chris Ruggiero.

The opening band is Deniprobably, an indie group from New Haven.

Saturday’s schedule is filled with other workshops too.

Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White, a Bridgeport actor/writer/director with over 100 film and TV credits, is building an international production center in New Haven. His keynote speech will cover his life, career and vision for Jaigantic Studios.

Vibe Magazine editor Datwon Thomas, Grammy engineering winner Emily Lazar and Verso Studios’ audio producer Travis Bell will join Dick Wingate — a Westport record executive who worked with Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, Peter Tosh and Pink Floyd — to discuss music production .

Hands-on workshops will be led by Joe Bouchard, co-founder of Blue Öyster Cult; Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and New York Times writer Joe Hagan; country singer-songwriter Drew Smith, and hip-hop legend Dooley-O.

Sunday’s “bagel brunch” features international best-selling author (and Westport resident) Jane Green. Her new novel Sister Stardust looks at the Rolling Stones’ 1960s travels and travails in Marrakesh.

Josie Jo Armistead — a soul music Renaissance woman, former Ikette, recording artist, record label owner and songwriter — will be interviewed by Beehive Queen and “Saturday Night Live” tour de force Christine Ohlman.

The final performance is by groundbreaking young blues visionary Selwyn Birchwood. His band includes a sax, bass, drums and keyboard.

In the works for over a year, the event is an extension of Verso Studios — the Library’s media resource and production hub/cultural and learning center. Verso offers cutting-edge facilities for multimedia production and events, including a hybrid-analog recording studio, and a stage with an 18-foot LED screen; state-of-the-art lighting, video and digital projection, and seating for over4 00 people.

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker hails the Music & Media Festival as one more way for the Library to build innovative community. She calls Verso Studios “the perfect venue.”

“06880” is proud to join WPKN as a media sponsor of this event. The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce is co-producing all 3 concerts.

The panels are free. The concerts and workshops are ticketed events. Click here for more information.

Roundup: Kentucky Aid, Urgent Care, Arnie’s Place …

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On the last Sunday before Christmas, Main Street is packed today with almost-last-minute shoppers.

While buying gifts for friends and loved ones, Steve Crowley hopes we’ll think about everyone in Kentucky whose holidays — and lives — were upended by last week’s tornadoes.

Steve — the owner of SCA Crowley Real Estate Services — has swung into action. He got a logo (courtesy of Miggs Burroughs) with the words “America Lends a Hand.” He ordered dozens of t-shirts, with the design.

Marty Rogers produced a sign. It’s in front of Vineyard Vines all day today, where Steve and his sons are selling the shirts, in return for donations to the Western Kentucky Relief Fund. 100% of all contributions go directly there.

In the midst of everything, stop in front of Vineyard Vines to help out. And, Steve says, if you can’t be there, send a tax-deductible check made out to “Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund,” c/o Public Protection Cabinet, 500 Metro Streeet, 218 NC, Frankfort, KY 40601.

Steve Crowley (right) and sons, selling t-shirts outside Vineyard Vines today.

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As the Omicron variant surges, and COVID cases soar, the Urgent Care center on Post Road East — which offers rapid testing i– has been swamped with patients.

As Bob Weingarten notes,  the line of cars there “has replaced the normal line at Starbucks” across the street.  .

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

Hey: If there’s an accident at Urgent Care, at least you won’t go far for treatment.

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Marty Greenberg lives on the Saugatuck River, across from the Rowing club. Last night around 8:30, the “floating Christmas team” passed by, for the second time.

“What a sight! What a treat!” Marty says. “it’s a unique Westport thrill.”

Floating Christmas tree, across from the Saugatuck Rowing Club. (Photo/Marty Greenberg)

Readers: If you’ve got photos — or any other info on the floating Christmas tree, like when it will next ride the river — click “Comments” below.

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Sure, this is one of the busiest weeks of the year. But if you get a chance, stop in to the Westport Library’s Verso Studios holiday open house tomorrow (Monday, December 20, 7 p.m.).

The creative staff will show off their podcast, mixing and mastering equipment.  They’ll answer questions about audio and video creation, editing and post-production, including training courses.

Registration is requested, for planning purposes. Click here to RSVP, and learn more.

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Speaking of the library: Longtime and beloved Westport artist Roe Halper’s acrylic paintings will be on display there from January 5 to March 7.

There’s a reception January 13, and an artist’s talk February 10. Both begin at 7 p.m..

COVID got you worried? Contact Roe for a private viewing: http://www.roehalperart.com.

“Orange” (Roe Halper)

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Speaking of the Library: It can’t run without volunteers. Betty Lou Cummings was one of its staunchest.

She served many other organizations, including her fall festival baby, the Applel Festival. She was a Representative Town Meeting member, as well as a 2nd selectwoman.

Yesterday, Betty Lou and her husband Tom celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. It was the same day I — and so many other Westporters — got their classic Christmas card, filled with photos of children, grandchildren, and random others.

Happy anniversary — and Merry Christmas — to one of our town’s favorite couples!

Betty Lou and Tom Cummings.

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Meanwhile, across Jesup Green from the Library, the Westport Book Shop continues to fill an important niche.

And the used book store does it with panache. Here’s their current sign:

(Photo/David Meth)

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Here’s a last-minute gift idea for anyone who remembers hours spent at Arnie’s Place arcade (or dreams about paying their taxes in pennies, as Arnie did).

Virginia Wong — the Westport native and entrepreneur who spent many happy hours at the controversial (to parents and town officials) and joyful (to kids) Post Road video arcade (now Ulta) — has reanimated the iconic graphic from Arnie Kaye’s long-running campaign to open, and stay open.

“I Support Arntie’s” t-shirts come in 4 colors. They’re perfect for any ’80s Westport kid.

Click here to order. But hurry! Tomorrow (Monday, December 20) is the cutoff for Christmas delivery.

“I Support Arnie’s” t-shirt, in pink.

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If you haven’t been to Compo Beach lately, you’ve missed serene winter “Westport … Naturally” scenes like this:

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)

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And finally … Edith Piaf was born on this day, in 1915. The French singer-songwriter. She died in 1963, just 47 years old. But she left quite a legacy behind.

Roundup: Senior Center, Benches, Best Of …

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Most Westport seniors are too young to remember Franklin Roosevelt’s campaign song.

But all can now sing “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Yesterday, the Senior Center reopened. It was shut for 15 months, during the pandemic.

Director Sue Pfister, Friends of the Senior Center president Jack Klinge, and selectmen Jim Marpe and Jen Tooker spoke.

Then — justlikethat — one of Westport’s most popular institutions was back in action.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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On Wednesday (July 7, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), the Board of Finance considers a request by Public Works for “standard street furniture in the Downtown Area.”

The $154,000 appropriation includes 18 benches; 32 trash and recycling receptacles; 16 bike racks; 7 fixed tables (6 chairs per table), and 2 café tables (4 chairs per table).

The outdoor furniture would be located along the river and in Parker Harding Plaza, and on Main Street, Elm Street, Church Lane, the Post Road (east to Bay Street), and in the Taylor parking lot.

The 5-year capital forecast includes the item, at a funding level of $275,000.

The type of benches requested (right), and their proposed placement downtown.

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Bruce Waldera is well-known to many Westporters, for his years of service at De Mattia Fuel, near the Sherwood Island Connector. He started around age 14, and continued until they closed a decade or so ago.

Bruce is a kind, caring, down-to-earth, compassionate, funny, fun, selfless and hardworking man. He loves Westport.

Now he’s battling brain cancer. A GoFundMe page has been set up so that he, his wife Amy — a longtime special education paraprofessional in Westport — and 3 daughters can spend quality time together — and manage some of their many medical bills. Click here to help.

Bruce Waldera

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For the second time in a month, a large yacht is anchored off Compo Beach.

Matt Murray wonders if it’s waiting for the July 4th fireworks. If so, it will be there a while. This year’s display — which would have happened tonight — was canceled by COVID.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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The July/August issue of Westport Magazine includes its annual “Best Of the Gold Coast” lists. There are more than 175 categories, from Cocktails and Seafood to Jewelry and Workouts. Westport winners include Manna Toast, Match Burger Lobster, Soleil Toile and WEST.

It’s been a tough year for small local businesses. This issue celebrates them.

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Artistic swimming — formerly “synchronized swimming” has been an Olympic sport since 1984.

Alessandra Gavriloiu won’t be going to this month’s Tokyo Olympics. But Paris in 2024?

The Staples High School rising freshman was part of the New Canaan YMCA Aquianas team that finished 3rd in the nation Tuesday. She and Alaina Argiriou of Darien took 10th in the duet competition too. Both were in the 13-15 age group.

The Junior Olympic competition took place at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Congratulations, Alessandra. On to Paris, oui?

Alessandra Gavriloiu (left) and Alaina Argiriou.

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The Westport Library has some intriguing events ahead. They include:

“Camp Explore: Homemade Microphone Magic” (Tuesday, July 6, 10 to 11;30 a.m): Students in grades 5 to 8 use repurposed materials from around the house, to build a working microphone for use anytime and anywhere. Click here to register.

“Burning Down the House: The New Republican Party” (Wednesday, July 7, 7 p.m., livestream): Princeton historian and CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer shares the history of the “new” Republican party with Bruce McGuirk, leader of Pages Through the Ages (the Library’s history discussion group). Click here to register.

“Verso Studios Production Pizza Party” (Monday, July 12, 6 to 8 p.m.). Find out about opportunities to learn, laugh and let rip your creative talents. Click here to register.

Part of the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

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Westport Country Playhouse Radio Theater — a series, with WSHU-FM — presents a new humor and suspense play. “Special Delivery” (Saturday, July 10,  1:06 p.m.; rebroadcast Sunday, July 11, 4:06 p.m.). is also available on the Playhouse website (westportplayhouse.org) from July 12 through August 1.

“Special Delivery” is about Leesa Colescott, a courier of fine arts. She must deliver not only a strange piece of art, but also an angry 12-year-old boy named Asher, to the home of an uncle he’s never met – during a raging thunderstorm.

Their destination — an isolated farmhouse — is full of surprises, including other-worldly voices coming from the paintings on the walls. Running time is 35 minutes.

For more information, click here.

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“Westport … Naturally” roams to Saugatuck Shores today, for this serene shot:

(Photo/Patti Brill)

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And finally … today is the 183rd day of the year. Only 182 remain. We’re more than halfway to 2022.

Roundup: Bus Accident, Sundance, Itzhak Perlman …

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There’s a “For Lease” sign outside the old Post Road West building, near Wright Street.

But, Frank Rosen notes, the building is in disrepair. Paint is peeling; shingles are askew. It will take a lot more than a new tenant to bring back some of the beauty to this once-handsome mansion-turned-office.

Demolition by neglect?

(Photo/Frank Rosen)

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There was a school bus accident yesterday, on Easton Road near Bayberry Lane. In the photo below, a small car was wedged under the far side of the bus.

Sandy Rothenberg says: “I have traveled this intersection for the past 35 years. It has become increasingly dangerous. The sight lines are very limited, and cars fly around the curve on Easton Road towards Westport. A very small sign indicates ‘slow curve.’ I hope this brings needed attention and improvements to this road.”

(Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)

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Sundance has opened on Main Street — by appointment only, anyway.

A sign on the former Anny Taylor store instructs shoppers to scan a QR code, for a link to an email.

No word yet on when the physical doors will open.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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Don’t miss Itzhak Perlman in Westport!

Tickets are still available for the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” event this Thursday (May 13, 7 p.m.).

This year’s livestreamed “Booked” fundraiser will include videos, live musical tributes, and a conversation with Perlman that is just for this audience. No recording will be made of the program.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Itzhak Perlman

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Speaking of the Library: One of the “star attractions” of the transformed space is Verso Studios. The state-of-the-art audio and broadcast studios can help anyone become a music, podcast, video or audiobook star.

Yesterday, the library launched a new Verso Studios website. Click here to watch and listen to a wide variety of recordings, podcasts and videos — and to find out how to use the studios yourself.

Part of the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

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In March, “06880” reported on a proposal by Abilis to turn 136 Riverside Avenue into a home for special needs affordable housing.

The Planning & Zoning Commission has granted a permit for a second floor addition, interior and exterior renovations, and site work for apartments for 4 special needs people, and another unit for an income-eligible staff member.

More approvals are needed. But this is good news for special needs individuals and their families. And it’s 5 more important affordable housing units for our town.

136 Riverside Avenue.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci and former 2nd Selectman/Board of Finance chair Avi Kaner shared a stage last night.

The New York Board of Rabbis honored both men with Humanitarian Awards , for their work during the pandemic.

Dr. Fauci’s contributions are well known. Kaner’s may be less famous. But the co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarkets was cited for the work his family-owned business did during the pandemic.

Morton Williams stores never closed. Employees kept working; senior executives ensured that the supply chain continued.

The company became a lifeline to New York. They worked with the CDC to adjust trucking regulations so that truckers would be comfortable making deliveries. They were among the first in the nation to set aside special hours for seniors and immunocompromised customers; they lobbied aggressively for mask use, and ensured that supermarket workers were included in phase 1B of the state’s vaccinations.

Click below for a clip of the introduction:

Click below for Kaner’s speech:

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Thomas Quealy spotted this on North Compo Road.

“Time to update our signs,” he says.

(Photo/Thomas Quealy)

He’s right. The Westport Arts Center moved over a year ago from Riverside Avenue to Newtown Turnpike.

In fact, it no longer exists. It’s now called MoCA Westport.

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Staples High School Class of 2019 graduate Anthony Salgado met Pierce Slutzky years ago, at Camp Laurel. Anthony says:

“Pierce was an amazing kid who was taken from us at age 17. He was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 14, and tirelessly fought medulloblastoma for 3 years.

“Pierce did not complain. He continued in high school, achieving an A average and making National Honor Society and Foreign Language Society.

“It is my honor to ask people to join in a CT Challenge bike ride to keep Pierce’s fight alive forever. I want to help those who are currently diagnosed, and those who may be diagnosed in the future.” Click here for the link.

Pierce Slutzky

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” shot comes from Roseann Spengler. She spotted this cute couple by the Saugatuck River:

(Photo/Roseann Spengler)

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And finally … Lloyd Price died last week in New Rochelle, from complications of diabetes. He was 88.

He had “Personality.” He had many other hits, including “Stagger Lee” and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” He’s a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. He led quite a life inside and outside of music. Click here for a full obituary.

 

Library Partners With Major Recording Artist

The Westport Library’s Transformation Project turned a great building into an amazing one.

The Forum, new stage, upgraded MakerSpace and welcoming café drew most of the attention.

But the Verso recording studios — with state-of-the-art recording equipment and spectacular post-production technology — is one of the revamped library’s most impressive features.

Part of the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

And it’s about to get more impressive.

A major — and I do mean “major” — recording artist has just signed a contract to use the studio for an upcoming album.

“It doesn’t get bigger or more exciting than this,” says Library executive director Bill Harmer. “Trust me. This is huge.”

I am not allowed to use his name in the body of this story (apparently, to avoid it being picked up by search engines). But here are a couple of clues:

  • He lives in Weston.
  • In the 1960s, he could not “get no satisfaction.”
  • Yet he did have some “sympathy for the devil.”
  • And though “wild horses” couldn’t drag me away to write his name here, I am allowed to link to it. Click here to see.