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Fairfield's 375th celebrated with 'Rockin' Top 10' museum exhibition

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To help celebrate the 375th anniversary of the founding of Fairfield, Conn., the Fairfield Museum and History Center is presenting an exhibition, Fairfield’s Rockin’ Top Ten, highlighting 10 musicians or groups who have helped create the town’s musical legacy.

The artists are Ashford & Simpson, The Remains, Leonard Bernstein, Dave Brubeck, Jose Feliciano, Talking Heads’ and Tom Tom Club’s Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, Richard Rodgers, Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, Keith Richards and Donna Summer. All have recording careers going back at least 25 years, and have had homes in the Fairfield area (including Westport, Weston and Wilton).

Barry Tashian, who founded The Remains, grew up in Westport and went to Staples High School. The other artists all came from elsewhere but lived in the area at one point.

Frantz helped select the artists.

“The museum chose us," he says, speaking of himself and wife Weymouth. "We chose the other artists because they have resided within the historical boundaries of Fairfield, and their work has withstood the test of time and is still considered by most people to be excellent. Fairfield is celebrating its 375th year and would like to honor its musicians and composers. My feeling is that this list is highly diverse both artistically and ethnically, and is something the town can truly be proud of.”

Located on Southwestern Connecticut’s Gold Coast, Fairfield has been rated among the best places to live in the Northeast.

Fairfield’s Rockin’ Top Ten exhibit, which is sponsored by First Niagara Bank and Deej and Deborah Webb, opens Thursday (Jan. 16) and runs through April 28. It will feature rare photographs, music videos and iconic artifacts from the 10 artists.

“First Niagara is proud to support the Fairfield Museum in bringing this exciting exhibition to music and arts enthusiasts across the state,” says First Niagara’s Tri-State regional president Cathie Schaffer. “I think many will be surprised, as was I, to learn how many talented artists and musicians have been a part of this community over the past 375 years.”

The Fairfield’s Rockin’ Top Ten exhibition will be complemented by a variety of programs including musical performances, lectures, intimate artist evenings and films, starting with "Museum After Dark: Fairfield Rocks!," the exhibition’s opening night reception, to include a panel discussion with Fairfield area musicians such as Frantz and Weymouth, Feliciano and Rodgers.

On Jan. 20, "Family Focus: Giving Back With Music" stars Connecticut State Troubadour Kristin Graves. On Jan. 29, "The Fairfield Theatre Company And The Fairfield Museum And History Center Present: Chris And Tina’s All Stars--A Concert And Wine Tasting Celebrating Fairfield’s 375th Anniversary" features performances by Caravan Of Thieves, Mystic Bowie and The Zambonis.

On Feb. 9, "A Friendship In Music" traces the influential friendship between Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland, with pianist and Fairfield University professor Orin Grossman. "Family Focus: The Genius Of Love!" On Feb. 14 uses fun music and songs of love from Fairfield’s Rockin’ Top Ten artists as background for making crafts.

Part of the museum’s Adult Lecture Series, "Home Of Happy Dancers: The Story Of Bridgeport’s Ritz Ballroom," with author Jeffrey Williams, looks at the Ritz—one of New England’s foremost dance palaces from “the roaring '20s to the rockin’ '60s.” On March 1 and 15, and April 5 and 26, School Of Rock @ The Fairfield Museum presents a Professional Minds Of Music series as part of its Music Education Workshops For Adults And Youth, with workshops on the foundations of music featuring industry professionals and entertainment by the Fairfield House Band.

And on March 29, Jose Feliciano will perform.

Some of these events are free, while others require reservations and ticket purchases.

In addition to Fairfield’s Rockin’ Top Ten, numerous other exhibitions throughout the winter and spring will commemorate the Fairfield Museum’s 375th Anniversary Celebration of Fairfield, including the centerpiece interactive exhibition, Creating Community: Exploring 375 Years Of Our Past.

Meanwhile, at the museum’s website, another 11 Fairfield area musicians who met the criteria of having started their recording career at least 25 years ago are cited.

They are Michael Lee Aday (Meatloaf), Michael Bolton, jazz and gospel composer-performer Chris Coogan, jazz guitarist Larry Coryell, Dan Hartman, songwriter-guitarist-producer Charlie Karp, guitarist-songwriter Danny Kortchmar, Paul Butterfield Blues Band keyboardist Mark Naftalin, Spyro Gyra vibraphonist-marimba player Dave Samuels, Alice Cooper drummer Neal Smith and Mary Travers.

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