Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Mark Naftalin Coming to The Westport Library for New Blues Series

Fri, Sep 2, 2022
Brendan Toller

Famed keyboardist and noted producer and radio host Mark Naftalin is bringing his talents to The Westport Library as part of a new series of blues concerts to be held monthly, starting in September.

Mark Naftalin's Blue Sunday kicks off on Sunday, September 18, from 3 to 5 pm, presented by The Westport Library and Verso Studios. It will be hosted by Naftalin, the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer who rose to fame as the keyboardist with the influential Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

The Blue Sunday kickoff will feature singing guitarists Chance Browne (The Twinkies, Hi and Lois artist), Chris “Otis” Cross (Otis and the Hurricanes) and Paul Gabriel (Blue In The Face, Paul Gabriel Blues Band, Connecticut Blues Society Lifetime Achievement Award); singing harmonicists Manny Foglio (Manny and the Mojomatics) and Mark Zaretsky (Cobalt Rhythm Kings); bassist David Anastasia (Mojomatics, Walter Lewis Blues Trio, The Zero Boys); percussionists Matt Moadel (Mystic Bowie, Fuzz On It, The David Morgan Trio, Portal) and Barry Urich (Blue In The Face, Jose Feliciano); accordionist-pianist-vocalist Smokin’ Joe Najmy (Otis and the Hurricanes, Mill River Band); sax master Crispin Cioe (Albert Collins, James Cotton, Uptown Horns, Cracked Ice); washboard wizard Washboard Slim (Washboard Slim & The Blue Lights); and Naftalin on piano.  

Pathbreakers in the 1960s blues boom, the inter-racial Butterfield Band opened doors for blues masters like B.B. King and Muddy Waters, and Naftalin went on to record and/or perform with a host of blues stars, including Michael Bloomfield, James Cotton, Lowell Fulson, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Percy Mayfield, Carla Thomas, Irma Thomas, Otis Rush, Big Mama Thornton, Big Joe Turner, and many others. In 2015 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. 

Living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area, Naftalin produced more than 1,300 blues radio broadcasts on three FM stations, in addition and more than 30 blues festivals. His Blue Sunday at The Westport Library is a nod to his Blue Monday Party, a weekly blues show and dance in the Bay Area (1979-83) that featured more than 60 blues artists and groups and was the scene of 86 live radio broadcasts and three TV specials. 

In 2002, Mark and his wife, Ellen, moved to Westport, which is Ellen's hometown. His monthly broadcast, The Mark Naftalin Show, is now in its seventh year on Bridgeport's WPKN (89.5 FM, streaming world-wide at wpkn.org). 

Mark says he is “pleased as punch” to be collaborating with The Westport Library and Verso Studios on a blues series.

Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer said, “Blue Sunday capitalizes on the success of Verso Studios music and media festival VersoFest and the adventurous Chris Frantz Presents Emerging Musicians series. The Westport Library is honored to be working with yet another storied Westport creative resident as we build upon our mutual legacies.”

The events are free, but registration is required via this link.

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