Greetings from the Front Porch dear friends and kind readers, where we are glad to have our fans during these humid, New England August days as we sip cold lemonade and relive the magic that spread through downtown Westerly Friday night — actually there was magic in town the whole weekend long! On Friday night, Railroad Avenue was electric Friday from the moment the fabulous and beguiling musician Jon Batiste — the bandleader for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” — arrived at the Knick to give a musical master class with students from the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School. Batiste, who also gave a concert in the round later that night (and invited Stonington’s own Nora Fox to join him for a number) is utterly enchanting. So much so, that he charmed the audience right out of the Knick and onto the street where they flooded Railroad Avenue, New Orleans-style. I caught the tail end of the street exuberance and it was astounding. What a night! Keep in mind that the excitement and special vibe will continue what with all the collaboration going on with the local arts organizations, so stay tuned and get involved!
Meanwhile, down the street at the train station, the Artists' Cooperative Gallery of Westerly was rocking with excitement at the opening of the first show inside the station. The August show, “A Dot on a Walk – Paul Klee, exploring Line,” with featured artists Ardie Harrison and James “Pep” Pepitone, was packed with artists and supporters of the arts all ooohing and ahhhhing at the art work and the fabulous new location. I was greeted by the ultra-talented Betsie Withey, who creates nature-inspired textile art, and whose showstopper of a piece — a “Fantasy Fiber Art Sculptural Dress” — is something to behold! How wonderful to catch up with Cecile Thompson, Kaleeny Cannon, Lois Lawrence, Arlene Piacquadio and Dan Marantz, to name a few. The station will be the gallery’s new home for the next two years while the United Theatre undergoes the renovations necessary to become the region’s premiere arts complex. Speaking of the United, program manager Tony Nunes gave a special tour of the facility to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who was in town Saturday for a fundraiser at Pat Isted’s Twisted Vine (hosted by Bob Ritacco, Diana Kellogg, Neil Burger, Lang Wheeler, Kathy Metcalfe and Chuck and Deborah Royce, among others) and to visit the Watch Hill Lighthouse, where darling Ann Snowden Johnson gave him a tour.
It was good to have a catch-up with Robin Springborn, who shared news about the recent book event sponsored by the Literacy Volunteers of Washington County (where she serves as veep). Roughly 300 people attended the benefit to hear CNN correspondent Jamie Gangel interview her husband, author Daniel Silva, Robin said, in what was another successful event. Hoorah! Ciao bella!