From the stages of Glastonbury, Governors Ball, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Reading, and Leeds, as well as a recent sell-out at New York City’s Terminal 5, Sunflower Bean will open VersoFest 2023 at The Westport Library.

The Brooklyn-based band will take the stage for an intimate kickoff concert at the state-of-the-art Verso Studios Trefz Forum venue. DJ HYSTERICA will serve as the in-house DJ for the evening.

Tickets for the show are $25 in advance and available via Eventbrite.

VersoFest is a multi-day music and media festival/conference born out of Verso Studios at The Westport Library. Verso Studios is a library branch of the 21st century focusing on multimedia programming and commercial services as well as educational and content creation opportunities.

The festival will continue on Friday evening, March 31, featuring headlining act The Smithereens, with Amilia K Spicer kicking off the evening and the legendary Miriam Linna serving as DJ. A full slate of programs and workshops round out VersoFest 2023 on Saturday and Sunday, with famed producer Steve Lillywhite delivering the keynote Saturday afternoon.

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Sunflower Bean frontperson, singer-songwriter Julia Cumming, returns to her home base of Fairfield County hot off the band’s headlining presence at South by Southwest 2023. Recently, Sunflower Bean’s Headful of Sugar was named #41 of Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Albums of 2022, and Consequence of Sound proudly referred to the band as “one of the most consistent and beloved staples of the scene.”

Cumming (bass, lead vocals), Nick Kivlen (guitars, backing vocals), and Olive Faber (drums) formed Sunflower Bean in early 2013, “made up of young people staring down a terrifying future and finding camaraderie in the eclectic rock ‘n’ roll aesthetics.”

Their 2014 College Music Journal Music Marathon performance received press from (among others) Jon Pareles of The New York Times, who described their sound as “… what might have happened if psychedelia had emerged after punk and the Police rather than before."

The band has toured extensively with artists as disparate as Beck, Cage the Elephant, Interpol, Courtney Barnett, The Pixies, The Kills, DIIV, Courtney Barnett, and Wolf Alice.

Joining Sunflower Bean for the evening is DJ HYSTERICA, who has been igniting DJ decks throughout the tri-state area with her selections of 60s psych, garage, glam, power pop, ye-ye, greasy R&B, new wave, dark wave, and punk. This extends to HYSTERICA's weekly Monday 3 pm Some Weird Sin show on WFMU's Sheena's Jungle Room and monthly Rock 'n' Roll Radio show on WHUS.

All VersoFest 2023 concerts are co-produced with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

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Click here to see the full story announcing the Friday evening lineup.

Blue Coupe, the supergroup formed of Alice Cooper group bassist Dennis Dunaway and Blue Öyster Cult founders Joe and Albert Bouchard will take over the Library’s Trefz Forum on Friday, March 10.

Doors open at 6:30 pm; opener at 7 pm.

Tickets to see Blue Coupe live in the Trez Forum are available HERE.

Sisters Tish and Snooky Bellomo of Manic Panic will be joining Blue Coupe for the show. DJ B The T Sr. starts the night on Verso Studios vinyl DJ decks, spinning the formative rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, and blues music that influenced and informed bands like Alice Cooper and Blue Öyster Cult.

Proceeds from the show will go to benefit this year’s VersoFest, which runs March 30 to April 2.

Blue Coupe’s live concerts are a mix of the best-known songs from their respective groups as well as new music from their studio albums. The band’s website describes the amalgam as “a powerful legacy of music that makes for a dynamic and exciting show.”

Dunaway is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who co-wrote Alice Cooper band hits including “I’m 18,” “School's Out,” and “Under My Wheels.” Multi-instrumentalist Joe Bouchard — a VersoFest 2022 alum — and drummer Albert Bouchard founded Blue Öyster Cult and served as co-writers and arrangers of many of the band’s biggest songs, including “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll,” “Hot Rails to Hell,” and “Astronomy.”

All told, Dunaway and the Bouchard brothers have sold 15 million-plus albums and have been awarded more than 30 gold and platinum records worldwide.

All VersoFest 2023 concerts are co-produced with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

Blue Coupe (credit: Rock Revele)

The Westport Library is gearing up for VersoFest 2023 with a trio of legendary musicians.

Blue Coupe, the supergroup formed of Alice Cooper group bassist Dennis Dunaway and Blue Öyster Cult founders Joe and Albert Bouchard will take over the Library’s Trefz Forum on Friday, March 10, at 7 pm.

Proceeds from the show will go to benefit this year’s VersoFest, which runs March 30 to April 2 and features live performances by Sunflower Bean, Amilia K Spicer, and the Smithereens, as well as a full set of programs and workshops featuring music luminaries and those behind the scenes who will come to the Library to inform, inspire, and entertain. Renowned producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Rolling Stones, Talking Heads) will provide the keynote address on Saturday, April 1.

Sisters Tish and Snooky Bellomo of Manic Panic will be joining Blue Coupe for the show. DJ B The T Sr. starts the night on Verso Studios vinyl DJ decks, spinning the formative rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, and blues music that influenced and informed bands like Alice Cooper and Blue Öyster Cult.

“There aren’t many bands like Blue Coupe making music today,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer, “and we’re thrilled to have them perform in the Trefz Forum. This is a good old fashioned rock band that delivers hits you know and hits you’ll come to love. It’s a really cool experience for our visitors and the perfect show to get us ready for VersoFest.”

Said Dunaway, “We're thrilled to be performing at The Westport Library because they excel in enriching the community in knowledge and all varieties of the arts.”

Blue Coupe’s live concerts are a mix of the best-known songs from their respective groups as well as new music from their studio albums. The band’s website describes the amalgam as “a powerful legacy of music that makes for a dynamic and exciting show.” 

L to R: Albert Bouchard, Tish Bellomo, Dennis Dunaway, Snooky Bellomo, Joe Bouchard (credit: Jim Marchese)

Dunaway is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who co-wrote Alice Cooper band hits including “I’m 18,” “School's Out,” and “Under My Wheels.” Multi-instrumentalist Joe Bouchard — a VersoFest 2022 alum — and drummer Albert Bouchard founded Blue Öyster Cult and served as co-writers and arrangers of many of the band’s biggest songs, including “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll,” “Hot Rails to Hell,” and “Astronomy.”

All told, Dunaway and the Bouchard brothers have sold 15 million-plus albums and have been awarded more than 30 gold and platinum records worldwide.

Blue Coupe has made three albums since its inception, including its most recent offering, ELEVEN EVEN, released in 2019 and recorded to have the feeling of a live show. “The stage is our second home,” said Dunaway, “so we all write songs with an arena feel.”

Also in 2019, Blue Coupe performed at the Sweden Rock Festival to rave reviews. The band followed that with the Great South Bay Music Festival in Long Island, New York, and a tour of the Midwest that culminated with a live-streamed interview from the main stage in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

DJ B The T Sr. was station manager and program director of WNHU from 1977 to 1981, where he helped break new bands like X, Blondie, U2, and the Motels, and fostered a burgeoning community of independent and original New Haven bands. After many years hunkered over his basement mixtape laboratory, he has reemerged with lively DJ appearances at Berlinetta Brewing in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Tickets to see Blue Coupe live in the Trez Forum are available on Eventbrite. All VersoFest 2023 concerts are co-produced with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

The Smithereens with Marshall Crenshaw

The Smithereens, the famed American rock band with a string of hits running from the 1980s into the 2000s, will headline Friday night’s VersoFest concert slot at The Westport Library on March 31 at 7 pm. Singer/songwriter and new wave pioneer Marshall Crenshaw takes the role of Smithereen lead vocals for the night.

Americana musician Amilia K Spicer opens the evening fresh off rave reviews from NPR, Popdose, and No Depression, and the legendary Miriam Linna DJs the night with 45s from one of the most-revered record collections in the world.

VersoFest is a multi-day music and media festival/conference born out of Verso Studios at The Westport Library. Verso Studios is a library branch of the 21st century focusing on multimedia programming and commercial services as well as educational and content creation opportunities. The festival opens Thursday, March 30, and will continue with a full slate of programs and workshops Saturday and Sunday, April 1-2, with famed producer Steve Lillywhite delivering the keynote Saturday afternoon.

“This is a remarkable collection of talented artists to be joining us in one evening,” said Bill Harmer, executive director of The Westport Library. “The Smithereens are an institution, Amilia is a rising star, and Miriam is one of music’s leading lights. That they’re all coming to the Library to perform is a testament to the enduring power of music in our community and the continued growth of VersoFest in its second year.”

Founded in New Jersey in 1980, The Smithereens have been creating electrifying, original rock ‘n’ roll for 42 years. Jim Babjak (guitar), Dennis Diken (drums), and Mike Mesaros (bass) grew up together in Carteret, and lead singer, the late Pat DiNizio, hailed from Scotch Plains. The Smithereens formed their take-no-prisoners, East Coast roots-rock sound inspired by a well of rock ‘n’ roll predecessors including Buddy Holly, The Who, Nick Lowe, and The Move.

The Smithereens’ fame escalated in the late 1980s and 1990s with hits like “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” “A Girl Like You,” and “Only a Memory,” and the band was in heavy rotation on MTV and appeared on The Tonight Show, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and Saturday Night Live. Over the course of 17 albums and 2,500+ live shows, The Smithereens have performed on stages coast to coast from the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles to Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, and internationally from Europe to Australia. Tourmates have included Tom Petty, Squeeze, The Pretenders, Lou Reed, and Ramones, among others.

After the 2017 passing of DiNizio, the surviving members decided to persevere and carry on their shared musical legacy, showcasing guest vocalists Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms and singer/songwriter Crenshaw. 

Miriam Linna (L) and Amilia K Spicer (photo credit: Virginia Conesa)

Spicer, who hails from Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles, describes her Americana/folk rock style as “red-dirt noir, evoking majestic vistas — and shadowy mysteries.” Her 2017 album Wow and Flutter featured contributions from bassist Daryl Johnson (Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan), keyboardists Rami Jaffee (Wallflowers/Foo Fighters) and Mike Finnigan (Bonnie Raitt/Taj Mahal), pedal steel player Eric Heywood (Son Volt), and guitarists Tony Gilkyson (X, Lone Justice) and Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams). PopDose said of Spicer’s offering, “Wow and Flutter certainly makes it worth the wait for longtime admirers; it’s also a compelling entry point for new fans and one of the best albums, any genre, of the past decade.”

Linna is a founding member of the Cramps, co-founder with her late husband Billy Miller of leading primitive/garage/punk/R&B label Norton Records and hip pocket paperback publisher Kicks Books, as well as the mastermind of Kicksville Radio. On Sunday, April 2, Linna will be the subject of VersoFest’s Music Oral History program, moderated by Beehive Queen and SNL singer Christine Ohlman.

Tickets for Friday night’s show are $40 in advance and available via Eventbrite. All VersoFest 2023 concerts are co-produced with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.


Steve Lillywhite

A visionary music and media festival calls for visionary talent.

Enter Steve Lillywhite.

The lauded record producer, whose credits include the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, U2, the Psychedelic Furs, XTC, Morrissey, the Pogues, Dave Matthews Band, Guster, Phish, the Killers, and many more, has been confirmed as a headliner for VersoFest 2023.

VersoFest is The Westport Library’s annual music and media conference and festival where knowledge is shared and inspiration is discovered — a forum for media creators, artists, and fans to converge.

Lillywhite will be appearing on Saturday, April 1, in conversation with renowned Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club drummer Chris Frantz.

“Hello Versoites, come and watch my good friend Chris Frantz and me share some stories from the past on April Fool’s Day,” Lillywhite said. “What could possibly be better?!”

Lillywhite’s career began as a staff producer with Island Records, flowering with the emergence of new wave music. Island Records is widely regarded as one of the all-time forward-thinking popular record labels and rosters. With grand success in pioneering recording ethos and technique, as well as popular sales, Lillywhite was made a Commander of the Order of The British Empire (CBE) for his contributions to music in 2012.

Lillywhite’s VersoFest 2023 booking capitalizes on Verso Studios’ Island Records alumni connections, including Frantz and Grammy-winning producer and engineer Rob Fraboni, both key Verso Studios contributors and VersoFest 2022 alums.

“VersoFest celebrates the creative community, with a focus on innovation and inspiration,” said Bill Harmer, executive director of The Westport Library. “Steve Lillywhite perfectly embodies this spirit. He has left an indelible imprint on music and popular culture. His production credits are legendary and helped to define the soundtrack of a generation. It’s an honor to have him headline VersoFest 2023.”

VersoFest 2023 will run from Thursday, March 30, through Sunday, April 2, and include panels and keynotes where experts share their perspective and vision; intimate workshops provide creators the opportunity to deconstruct, improve, and hone their craft; and performances that entertain and inspire.

Contributors and artists will continue to be added to the festival. Sign up for Verso Studios e-news for all the latest VersoFest and Verso updates. 

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