VersoFest 2024 Lineup: Concerts, Conversations, Panels, Workshops & More

Westport, CT - Since its inception in 2022, VersoFest has been building to become one of Connecticut's premier music festivals and conferences, featuring a diverse array of local and global talent that has included The Smithereens, Sunflower Bean, renowned producer Steve Lillywhite, Norton Records/Kicks Books/Kicksville Radio co-founder and original Cramps drummer Miriam Linna, Alice Cooper Group Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Dennis Dunaway, Aretha Franklin/Ray Charles songwriter Joshie Jo Armstead, Psychedelic Furs frontman and painter Richard Butler, and hip hop pioneer DJ Grand Wizzard Theodore.

Spanning five days for this year's edition, April 3 through April 7, The Westport Library's annual music and media festival and conference features Verso Visionaries: Chuck D in conversation with Akashic Books publisher Johnny Temple (Wednesday, April 3), and David Bowie, T. Rex, and Thin Lizzy music producer Tony Visconti in conversation with WFUV's Paul Cavalconte (Saturday, April 6, at 1 pm), both previously announced, and now adding music legend John Densmore in conversation with CNN's Alisyn Camerota Saturday afternoon at 4:30 pm.

Densmore is the drummer for the legendary rock band The Doors, which has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. In 1993, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and since then, he has earned a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Densmore's latest book, The Doors Unhinged, details his conflict with bandmates over the right to use The Doors’ name, revealing the ways in which this struggle mirrors and reflects a much larger societal issue.

Tom Waits said of the book, "There are some of us out there who still have principles and cannot be bought. John Densmore is one of them. He is not for sale and that is his gift to us.”

Camerota joins Densmore, returning to The Westport Library on the heels of her March 27 memoir launch event of Combat Love. While known for her reporting presence, Camerota came of age during late 1970s punk rock, forming close bonds with Red Bank, New Jersey band Shrapnel. The band's 1979 single "Combat Love" features backing vocals from Shrapnel confidant Joey Ramone and is being reissued as a limited 7-inch record with Camerota's memoir.

VersoFest 2024 concerts and performances include recent Tonight Show featured rockers The Lemon Twigs with DJ HYSTERICA on Thursday April 4, and '90s hitmakers Spin Doctors with singer-songwriter Nick Depuy on Friday April 5.

Rooted in Connecticut's burgeoning music and arts scenes, VersoFest also features panels and workshops all day Saturday and Sunday. Highlights include a midday Saturday Verso Book Club event featuring Audrey Golden, author of I Thought I Heard You Speak: Women At Factory Records, in conversation with New Haven Independent's Karen Ponzio; a Sunday panel on the wild lore of WPLR's 1975 Fleetwood Mac broadcast from Trod Nossel Studios featuring an early incarnation of the Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham era with broadcaster Dick Kalt and special guests, moderated by singer-songwriter Dr. Jennifer Dauphinais; and a Pitch Your Podcast Panel by CT Public with on-air personality Meg Dalton and Peabody Award winning Uncivil podcaster and writer Jack Hitt.

Sunday, April 7, features the return of VersoFest's popular live music oral history podcast with "Glam to Punk — A Fashion Round Table: Alice Cooper, Bowie, Blondie and Beyond" featuring Cindy Dunaway, Tish & Snooky (Manic Panic), and special guest Dennis Dunaway (original Alice Cooper Group bassist), moderated by SNL Band singer and frequent Westport Library collaborator Christine Ohlman.

“From a first-year participant in 2022, I’ve watched VersoFest’s super-cool evolution, spreading its colorful wings in an increasingly unique way to touch and enrich the artistic life of the community," said Ohlman. "And in the process, to offer some phenomenal, top-of-the line entertainment. I'm delighted to once again be a part of VersoFest 2024.”

Dunaway served as costume designer to the Alice Cooper Group from their formative Phoenix, Arizona, days to stadium shows. The band's Liberace- and Busby Berkeley-inspired glitter wear caught the eye of David Bowie and Elton John, cementing the style and aesthetics of the "glam" era. In a parallel universe, Tish and Snooky's gorgeously Punk’d costumes — self-designed, razor-bladed, safety-pinned and schoolgirl-skirted — lit up stages (along with their vocals, beginning with the earliest lineup of Blondie), in NYC and beyond, leading then to open the nation’s first punk boutique and found the groundbreaking Manic Panic cosmetic line. Saturday and Sunday also feature a record fair curated by Record Riots, set up in the Hub on the Library's main floor. In addition, collector and curator Paul Brenton is bringing a "Diamond Dogs at 50" David Bowie exhibit, featuring the original stage models from the 1974 Diamond Dogs tour and other rare ephemera. Pioneering stage designer Mark Ravitz will be in attendance, having designed numerous Bowie tour sets (Diamond Dogs, Glass Spiders, and Serious Moonlight tours) as well as stages for KISS, Whitney Houston, and Backstreet Boys.

The festival concludes with a celebration of hip hop's first motion picture, Wild Style, featuring Tony Tone of the Cold Crush Brothers, the return of Grand Wizzard Theodore, as well as Prince Whipper Whip, DJ Ultamite, Grand Master Caz, JDL, Easy AD, Almighty Kay Gee, and Rodney C.

Food trucks will be on site throughout the weekend in the library parking lot to supplement the many offerings of the Library Café.

All VersoFest performances, panels, and workshops are free or at market rates thanks to the generous support of donors, community partners, and Library programming funds. A selection of events will be recorded by Verso Studios Crew Call and available on-demand at a later date.


VersoFest 2024: Five Days of Music, Media, and Creativity

April 3-7

The Westport Library

Full story: here

Tickets & registration:

Submitted by EJ Crawford

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