Greetings from the Front Porch dear friends and kind readers, and welcome to a late August Monday here on the Front Porch where we’re enjoying the cooler (and delightful) weather that blew in Sunday morning, although we’re still mourning the Queen of Soul, playing all our old Aretha records and singing “Say a Little Prayer for me;” “Send me an Angel,” and of course … “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” Sigh. On a happier note and sticking with beautiful music, what a night for jazz-lovers Saturday when the amazing trumpeter Bruce Harris wowed the audience at the United. What a show! And imagine, he played on despite the fact that the United, like much of Westerly on Saturday night, was immersed in darkness. For much of the show, the theatre was in darkness, thanks to the power outage that blanketed the region. What a good sport was Mr. Harris to play on with his fellow musicians, Grant Stewart on tenor sax, Aaron Kimmel on drums, Ben Wolf on bass and Randy Weston on piano. “We don’t need no lights,” Harris shouted as he made his way down the aisle, trumpet in hand, and onto the stage where he shared his extraordinary take on Charlie Parker and Miles Davis in the intimate United. When the lights finally came on, the screen behind the musicians bearing the word, “United” was slowly, mystically, unveiled — as if by design — as two dedicated (and darling) Deborahs — Lamm and Royce — observed aprés concert. The two women are ultra-involved in the renovation of the United, which will one day be home to an entire arts complex. Bravo to Tony Nunes, who remained calm despite the challenges from National Grid. As United Board Chair Maureen Fitzgerald rightfully said, Tony is the remarkable “utility player” of the organization who can do a little of everything.
Speaking of music, who’s better than our hometown guy, Billy Gilman? I really enjoyed reading his Q&A with Naureen Nashid in the online mag, 1883. And the photos by Sanjida Bintekamal are stunning also. You can read it here: 1883magazine.com/music-features/music-features/billy-gilman.
Continuing with the arts theme, those on hand Friday morning for the official ribbon-cutting of the Artists' Cooperative Gallery’s new home at the Westerly Train Station know firsthand what an exciting event it was and how encouraging it was to hear the politicians gathered talk about the importance of working together to get things done. (There were also chuckles galore as they tried to pronounce the last name of Arlene Piacquadio, the gallery president.) The station will be the gallery’s new home for the next two years while the United undergoes the renovations necessary to become the center I mentioned above. As Chuck Royce said in his remarks, Westerly is “United with the arts.”
Felicitations to newlyweds Kara Kirker and Michael Reed, who were married on the beach Saturday surrounded by a circle of close friends and family. Kara, the daughter of Jim Kirker (the Misquamicut lawyer famous for the rainbow and leprachaun affixed on his Atlantic Avenue home), is the sister of musician Patrick Kirker (a favorite NFA teacher) and the mom of Kelsey, Kailyn, Makenzie and Riley Gabriele.
And now, please indulge me, dear readers, as I fulfill a promise and tell a brief grandson tale. A few weeks back I drove to Fairfield to spend a few hours with grandsons number four (Teddy Jr., 4) and five (Louis William, 3) while their mom took number six (Henry) to an appointment. Naturally, the morning was full of adventure … hide-and-seek games, ball games, water games … but discovering the fuzzy, yellow caterpillar near the oak tree in the backyard was the highlight of the morning. First came the long discussion about the creature’s future (butterfly or “moff”?) and a naming debate (at last, we agreed on “Goldy”). When the time came for me to leave (an announcement met with protests), I explained I had to get back to finish writing some stories for the newspaper. Looking at me pensively, little Teddy looked up and said, “Nina, will you tell the people about Goldy? Will you tell them we found Goldy in the grass and and that I’m the big brother, and that Louis is the middle brother, and that Henry is the baby brother? Will you tell that story?” “Of course, I will,” I replied. “I promise.” With that, dear readers, until next week, ciao bella!