Verso Records: Volume One, the debut album from Verso Studios at The Westport Library, got a proper introduction Saturday night, June 3, with 200+ fans packing the Library’s Trefz Forum to celebrate the first vinyl record ever recorded, produced, and released by a public library.
The album is now officially on sale, available at the Library Store, online via Bandcamp, through the Verso Records website, and soon at local record stores around the area. The bright yellow vinyl sells for $22 and includes a digital download. A $10 digital-only version is also available.
“I am thrilled to be celebrating this momentous achievement for Verso Studios,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer. “This is a historic snapshot of the current Connecticut and tri-state area music scene. This album is eclectic, powerful, fun, and shows the world what community and vision can do when we band together.”
Harmer and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal kicked off the event, welcoming the attendees and emphasizing the historic nature of this can’t-miss event.
“This is an example of Westport at its best, Connecticut at its best,” Blumenthal said from the stage, standing in front of the Trefz Forum’s 18-foot videowall, cane in hand as the result of an injury he suffered earlier this year. “I grew up for a number of years in Westport, and there is a quality to the vision and vibrancy of this community, a commitment to artistic achievement and culture that helps power culture throughout the state of Connecticut. … I had surgery about seven weeks ago, but not even a broken leg could keep me away tonight.”
And with that, it was on to the music. Five of the bands featured on the album performed: Folk/Americana artist Kierstin Sieser (Middletown) kicked things off, followed by Lulu Lewis duo Dylan Hundley & Pablo Martin (NYC), indie rock mainstay Ports of Spain (New Haven), and hockey rockers The Zambonis (Bridgeport), with The Problem With Kids Today (New Haven) closing out the evening.
Remarks and introductions to the bands were made by a variety of emcees, including record artist Sheneta Nicole, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club — Frantz also wrote the liner notes for the record — and legendary drummer and Norton Records founder Miriam Linna, whose label covered the record release in advance of the celebration.
“A library with a record label? Shazaam!” wrote Linna. “It took a small town library to make the impossible happen. … Westport Library sets the trend. … Benjamin Franklin got the ball rolling over 200 years ago in the United States, and what a concept they are — vestibules of knowledge, free to everyone, growing with the people, for the people! And the people want vinyl records!”
Verso Records: Volume One culls 12 live tracks from Connecticut and tri-state area artists, recorded by Audio Studios manager and in-house sound engineer Travis Bell at the Library’s Verso Studios.
The record features a diverse array of talent across all genres (rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, hip hop, folk, indie) heralding the oft-unsung heroes of the region. Standout tracks include indie-rock band Daniprobably’s “Cowboy,” produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Peter Katis (Interpol, The National, Kurt Vile, Sharon Von Etten); futuristic hip-hop from MIGHTYMOONCHEW with “Jus Bcuz,” produced by influential hip-hop icon Dooley-O; and Alexandra Burnet & The Stable Six’s lush, ethereal, eight-piece arrangement of the meditative “You’re Okay,” plus many others.
Danielle Capalbo from Daniprobably, Dooley-O, and Burnet were among the many local musicians in attendance to ring in the album Saturday night.
“It’s special to make a record in a library,” Capalbo said on the CT Public show Where We Live, “because you’re surrounded by ideas, surrounded by beautiful words, beautiful concepts. And The Westport Library is a uniquely beautiful space with wonderful, supportive people. … This is the most amplified I’ve ever felt as a musician in terms of the energy and excitement for the project, so kudos to The Westport Library for that.”