Brubecks named Beyond Words honorary chairs

Grab your hats, horses, and bourbon, and don’t forget your listening ears.

Wilton Library announced this week its annual Beyond Words event will be Kentucky Derby-themed in 2015, and will celebrate the contributions of Chris and Tish Brubeck, long-time Wilton residents.

Described as a “festive evening” with a southern flare, Beyond Words 2015 will take place on Derby eve, Friday, May 1, and will feature both a silent and live auction, a bourbon tasting lounge, food by AMG Catering, musical guests, and more.

The Brubecks will be this year’s honorary chairmen, the first people to be given that honor. Both Chris and Tish have been important in maintaining the library’s Hot & Cool Jazz series, which takes place in the aptly named Brubeck Room.

“We’re coming up on 10 years of the expansion of the library, so the Brubeck family was really the natural choice. They’ve been so helpful in raising funds, and have long sponsored the Hot & Cool Jazz series,” said Robin Axness, the library’s director of development.

The Brubecks, including Chris’s father,  jazz legend Dave Brubeck, were cheerleaders of the expansion and renovation of Wilton Library a decade ago.

“When they were planning for renovation and expansion, my parents were very excited about that. My father, my brother and I played a show at the opening. We were truly honored when they named the concert room after our family,” Mr. Brubeck said.

Speaking at the library last Thursday, Chris Brubeck said it’s amazing how well-regarded Wilton’s small-town library is in the jazz scene.

“At this point word has gotten around about the room, and we’re booked through the spring. People are coming from Wilton, and from out of town to see some of the highest level of jazz musicianship around,” Mr. Brubeck said. “The musicians know there’s a great, intelligent, closely listening crowd here.”

Recalling his own childhood experiences at the library — his mother was a radio actor and was especially adept at bringing picture book characters to life — he  said the library had become a cultural center in the last 50 years.

His wife agreed.

“This library started with a vision as just a place with books, but it has become the cultural epicenter of Wilton,” Ms. Brubeck said. “Even on a practical level, when we have storms people come to the library for the power and wi-fi …  It’s a key to having a ‘good’ town. It’s about the schools and what the town offers, like the library.”

The event

Though the Brubecks will be the “face of this year’s Beyond Words, two Wilton women are making sure the ship is ready to sail by May: Michele Ferguson and Callie Mellana.

“I’m doing this to benefit the library,” Ms. Mellana said last week. “My plea to my group of friends about the event is that the library has touched all of you in one way, shape, or form. Whether it’s touched themselves, their children, I know everyone in Wilton has come to the library. This benefit is about keeping that going, it’s about keeping new ideas coming.”

It’s not all serious business, though. There is one other reason residents should come to the event.

“We throw a really great party,” Ms. Mellana said with a smile.

Beyond Words is an “elegant event,” Ms. Ferguson said. This year, the organizers hope patrons take the theme into account when picking out a wardrobe.

“We’re hoping people will come in with Derby attire, big hats and seersucker suits,” she said. “Everything will be themed, including the décor, and the signature drinks: mint juleps and Oaks Lily.”

One-hundred percent of the proceeds of Beyond Words goes to support Wilton Library, a worthy cause for anyone in town to support, Ms. Mellana said.

“It’s an elegant evening, it’s a fun theme,” she said. “People will be excited, and you’ll have the chance to get together with friends, meet new people, and have a good time while supporting the library.

“Plus, you’re allowed to speak loudly in the library. There’s no shushing during Beyond Words.”

For more information about Beyond Words, visit the Wilton Library website at www.wiltonlibrary.org.