Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Mix Blog: VersoFest Returns With Expanded Audio Agenda

VersoFest, the music biz event hosted by Connecticut's Westport Library, will return in March with producers, musicians, panelists and more.


Westport, CT (February 14, 2023)—There are many libraries that hold music business events, and even more that have their own recording studios, but few if any have the scale of the Westport Library in Westport, Connecticut. Presenting producers, panelists and even a few bona fide rock stars and hip-hop legends, the library’s VersoFest—named after its extensive recording studio—will return March 30 through April 2, 2023, once again underlining the institution’s offerings and commitment to the arts.

Talking Heads' Chris Frantz, seen here being interviewed at the 2022 VersoFest, will return for this year's edition to chat with megaproducer Steve Lillywhite.
Talking Heads’ Chris Frantz, seen here being interviewed at the 2022 VersoFest, will return for this year’s edition to chat with megaproducer Steve Lillywhite.

Building on the success of last year’s inaugural VersoFest, which attracted more than 2,300 visitors over three days of concerts, panels and workshops, the library will host a variety of events, headlined by a keynote conversation between mega-producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, Dave Matthews Band, Phish, The Killers, Psychedelic Furs and dozens more) and Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club drummer Chris Frantz.

Of note to live-sound pros will a 1:4 scale replica sound system of the Grateful Dead’s famed “Wall of Sound” PA. Designed and constructed by Anthony Coscia, the 500-plus speaker system will be on display all weekend, but will also be the focus of a 90-minute class recounting the short-lived history of the original PA system, the construction of the replica and more.

Spoken-word audio will also get its due with a “Why Is Audio So Hot?” podcast, streaming and radio panel with Sarah Van Mosel (iHeart Media) and Corey Boutilier (Connecticut Public Media), moderated by Steve Goldstein (Amplifi Media).

The Westport Library sports a Midas/d&b live sound system in addition to its SSL-centric Verso Studio.
The Westport Library sports a Midas/d&b audiotechnik live sound system in addition to its SSL-centric Verso Studio.

Some of the other music-related offerings over the course of the festival will include:

  • Concerts with The Smithereens Featuring Marshall Crenshaw, Sunflower Bean and more.
  • A rock photography panel moderated by Dylan Hundley with Lynn Goldsmith (!), Julia Gorton, Katie Settel, and Michael Friedman.
  • A Music Oral History interview with Miriam Linna, founding member of The Cramps, Norton Records, Kicks Books, Kicksville Radio and more.
  • A “Business Of Music Panel” with A&R/tech consultant Dick Wingate.
  • A TV/Media Production Masterclass with Annette Jolles.
  • An “Evolving Rock Style” panel moderated by Rachel Felder (New York Times, Vanity Fair, New Yorker).
  • A Connecticut Hip Hop 50th Anniversary panel with DJ Grand Wizzard Theordore (inventor of the scratch), Tony Tone (Cold Crush Brothers), DJ Grandmaster Supreme (Lauryn Hi), DU Ragoza, DJ Billy Busch (Hot 93.7) and guest performances, hosted by DJ Terrible Tee.

This year’s edition will also see the addition of a record fair, an Alice Cooper stage-prop museum, a record label panel, a screenwriting masterclass, a documentary screening and a Saturday night “Laser Floyd” show, because of course.

VersoFest takes its name from the library’s well-appointed on-site Verso Studios, designed by producer/engineer Rob Fraboni (Bob Dylan, The Band, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Tim Hardin, The Beach Boys, Joe Cocker, Bonnie Raitt) and overseen by engineer Travis Bell. The facility centers around an SSL XL console, and sports outboard gear from the likes of UA, Tree Audio, Bricasti, Dangerous Audio, Empirical Labs and others; a variety of mics from multiple manufacturers, including Connecticut neighbors Telefunken and Sennheiser; and lots more. The library’s main open space/auditorium is likewise generously outfitted with a d&b audiotechnik PA and Midas M32 console at FOH.

VersoFest is free to attend but advance ticket registration is required. As an aside, I attended it last year, it was great, I’m probably going again this year, you can’t beat the price, and yes, you should go.