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What Jimmy Buffett, Brad Paisley and more share with Mark Twain

Connecticut Post logo Connecticut Post 10/28/2020 By Linda Tuccio-Koonz
a person sitting at a table with a vase of flowers: Jimmy Buffett, a devoted Twainiac, communes with his favorite author during a visit this year to The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford. Buffett will be one of several featured guests during the star-studded lineup for “A Writer’s Home, A Home for Writers,” the museum’s 2020 virtual gala. Premiering for a global audience Nov. 6, the free program also includes appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Brad Paisley, Jodi Picoult and Sophfronia Scott. © Provided by Connecticut Post

Jimmy Buffett, a devoted Twainiac, communes with his favorite author during a visit this year to The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford. Buffett will be one of several featured guests during the star-studded lineup for “A Writer’s Home, A Home for Writers,” the museum’s 2020 virtual gala. Premiering for a global audience Nov. 6, the free program also includes appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Brad Paisley, Jodi Picoult and Sophfronia Scott.

Mark Twain has fans around the world and it’s no secret Jimmy Buffett is among them. The singer-songwriter has written three songs about the humorist — including “Remittance Man” and “Take Another Road” — and talks of Twain in all of his books.

Buffett, like Twain, is known for his storytelling and humor. Earlier this year, he visited Hartford’s Mark Twain House & Museum, and even played some tunes in the author’s billiards room.

Grammy-winner Brad Paisley has been there, too, along with a host of other celebrated artists and authors who revere Twain. Several will be part of the museum’s virtual gala, “A Writer’s Home, A Home for Writers,” Friday, Nov. 6, at 8 p.m.

a man and a woman sitting on a table: Country star Brad Paisley, a Mark Twain fan, has visited The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford multiple times, and is seen here in the billiard room in 2013. Paisley will be one of several featured guests during the star-studded lineup for “A Writer’s Home, A Home for Writers,” the museum’s 2020 virtual gala. Premiering Nov. 6 for a global audience, the free program also includes appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Jimmy Buffett, Jodi Picoult and Sophfronia Scott. © Provided by Connecticut Post

Country star Brad Paisley, a Mark Twain fan, has visited The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford multiple times, and is seen here in the billiard room in 2013. Paisley will be one of several featured guests during the star-studded lineup for “A Writer’s Home, A Home for Writers,” the museum’s 2020 virtual gala. Premiering Nov. 6 for a global audience, the free program also includes appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Jimmy Buffett, Jodi Picoult and Sophfronia Scott.

Aside from Paisley and Buffett, the global event features appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Jodi Picoult and Sophfronia Scott. Although the gala is free, registration is required via MarkTwainHouse.org/gala.

Twain expert Cindy Lovell spoke with Buffett when he visited the Hartford home. “I met Jimmy at the house. ... The whole day was a whirlwind of joy, since we were there on a day when it was closed and could take our time in all of the rooms.”

The highlight came when he sat at Twain’s desk and sang “That’s What Living Is To Me,” the first song he wrote about the author. “I confess — I cried,” says Lovell, former executive director of both the Hartford Mark Twain House & Museum and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal, Mo.

Brad Paisley standing next to a body of water: Country star Brad Paisley is a fan of Mark Twain and has visited The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford multiple times. Paisley will be one of several featured guests during the star-studded lineup for “A Writer’s Home, A Home for Writers,” the museum’s 2020 virtual gala. Premiering Nov. 6 for a global audience, the free program also includes appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Jimmy Buffett, Jodi Picoult and Sophfronia Scott. © Provided by Connecticut Post

Country star Brad Paisley is a fan of Mark Twain and has visited The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford multiple times. Paisley will be one of several featured guests during the star-studded lineup for “A Writer’s Home, A Home for Writers,” the museum’s 2020 virtual gala. Premiering Nov. 6 for a global audience, the free program also includes appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Jimmy Buffett, Jodi Picoult and Sophfronia Scott.

“He also sang us a brand-new song. ... Another special moment was when he signed the visitor log in curatorial, which is typically signed by those coming to do research.” Under “purpose for visit,” he wrote: “Bucket List.”

Mallory Howard, assistant curator at the Hartford house, was also there for the visit and impromptu acoustic performance. “Watching creativity take form once again through music, in the same space where Twain worked on his literary masterpieces, seemed to transcend time,” she says.

The gala’s featured guests are all storytellers. “That is the common thread that binds all of them together,” Howard says. “They’re using their chosen medium and artistic expression to convey their opinions, emotions and sometimes critiques of society or humanity.”

“They all love Mark Twain and appreciate the work by the Mark Twain House & Museum to preserve his legacy,” Lovell says. “Both Jimmy and Brad are longtime Twain fans.” (Paisley supported Hannibal’s bicentennial via video saying, “I am the biggest Mark Twain fan.” Buffett acknowledges Twain as his favorite writer here.)

Jimmy Buffett standing on top of a sandy beach: Jimmy Buffett, who is a fan of Mark Twain and who visited The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford earlier this year, will be one of several featured guests during the star-studded lineup for “A Writer's Home, A Home for Writers,” the museum’s 2020 virtual gala. Premiering for a global audience Nov. 6, the free program also includes appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Brad Paisley, Jodi Picoult and Sophfronia Scott. © Provided by Connecticut Post

Jimmy Buffett, who is a fan of Mark Twain and who visited The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford earlier this year, will be one of several featured guests during the star-studded lineup for “A Writer's Home, A Home for Writers,” the museum’s 2020 virtual gala. Premiering for a global audience Nov. 6, the free program also includes appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Brad Paisley, Jodi Picoult and Sophfronia Scott.

“It’s always fun to ‘talk Twain’ with people who love him as much as I do,” she says, adding Paisley recorded “Huck Finn Blues” for “Mark Twain: Words & Music,” a double CD she conceived as a benefit for Twain’s boyhood home. The spoken word/music project, which tells Twain’s life story, features other artists, too. (Buffett voices Huckleberry Finn.)

Sophfronia Scott smiling for the camera: Newtown writer Sophfronia Scott, an award-winning journalist and novelist, will be one of several featured guests during a virtual gala held by The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Nov. 6. The star-studded lineup for “A Writer’s Home, A Home for Writers,” also includes David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Brad Paisley, Jodi Picoult and Jimmy Buffett. The 70-minute program will be open to a global audience and is free, but you must register to attend. © Provided by Connecticut Post

Newtown writer Sophfronia Scott, an award-winning journalist and novelist, will be one of several featured guests during a virtual gala held by The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Nov. 6. The star-studded lineup for “A Writer’s Home, A Home for Writers,” also includes David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Brad Paisley, Jodi Picoult and Jimmy Buffett. The 70-minute program will be open to a global audience and is free, but you must register to attend.

Lovell says Paisley has donated gala auction items through the years and “never passes up an opportunity to visit or help out when asked. His firstborn is named Huck, so that is a pretty big tell as to how much he admires Twain.”

Paisley has toured the Hartford house several times, with Howard as his guide. “There’s something special about bringing an artist through who sees Twain, the house, the stories through a different set of eyes,” she says. “The way he appreciates the genius and humor of Twain is undeniable.”

Discussing experiences with some of the other gala participants, Howard says best-selling novelist Baldacci is someone she admires for “how he continues to pay it forward for the next generation of writers, artists, poets and museum visitors who want to study and indulge themselves in one of our most important American cultural and literary icons.”

As for John Grisham (who also visited), she says, “Interacting with him reminded me a lot of Mark Twain. He has a way about him, the humor that comes through when having a simple conversation ... is intelligent and personable. I could probably spend hours listening to him talk about any trivial subject matter because of the humorous and intelligent way he tells stories.”

David Baldacci, John Grisham, Brad Paisley, Ron Chernow, Jodi Picoult, christina greer, Sophfronia Scott are posing for a picture: The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford invites you to its virtual gala, “A Writer's Home, A Home for Writers,” Nov. 6. The 70-minute program will includes appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Brad Paisley, Jodi Picoult, Jimmy Buffett and Sophfronia Scott. © Provided by Connecticut Post

The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford invites you to its virtual gala, “A Writer's Home, A Home for Writers,” Nov. 6. The 70-minute program will includes appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Brad Paisley, Jodi Picoult, Jimmy Buffett and Sophfronia Scott.

Newtown resident Scott, an award-winning journalist/novelist who is also among the featured guests, says when she first read Twain in high school, she enjoyed his straightforward, sharp-as-a-knife sense of humor.

“But now as an adult and as a writer myself I admire the adventurous, intentional way in which he lived his life. You can see it all over his house, which he had built to be exactly what he wanted and needed it to be,” she says.

“Every aspect of his home reflects the passion he had for travel, art, beauty and, most of all, his family. And he enjoyed that house for the time he and his family lived there. I find it inspiring to think about what it means to live that way, to be that free.”

Twain was “a master of description, and wrote about the intricacies of life in a relatable and powerful way,” Howard says. The 70-minute gala, which helps share and preserve his legacy, also includes an online auction, an add-on at-home party picnic (available for pick-up at the museum), and an opportunity to donate to what Twain called “the loveliest home that ever was.”

Jimmy Buffett sitting at a table: Jimmy Buffett, a longtime Twainiac, decided to play some of his tunes during a visit this year to The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford. Buffett will be one of several featured guests during the star-studded lineup for “A Writer’s Home, A Home for Writers,” the museum's 2020 virtual gala. Premiering Nov. 6, the free program also includes appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Brad Paisley, Jodi Picoult and Sophfronia Scott. © Provided by Connecticut Post

Jimmy Buffett, a longtime Twainiac, decided to play some of his tunes during a visit this year to The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford. Buffett will be one of several featured guests during the star-studded lineup for “A Writer’s Home, A Home for Writers,” the museum's 2020 virtual gala. Premiering Nov. 6, the free program also includes appearances by David Baldacci, Ron Chernow, Dr. Christina Greer, John Grisham, Brad Paisley, Jodi Picoult and Sophfronia Scott.

About the featured guests

David Baldacci is the author of dozens of thriller novels, most of which have debuted at No.1 on The New York Times Bestseller List. His books total more than 150 million copies in print worldwide.

Jimmy Buffett is a multi-platinum recording artist whose global entertainment portfolio includes albums, sold-out tours, books, a Broadway musical, and a chain of Margaritaville restaurants. He acknowledges Twain as his favorite writer in an interview at https://bit.ly/2HDFvZV

Historian Ron Chernow is the author of acclaimed biographies of Ulysses S. Grant, George Washington, John D. Rockefeller, and Alexander Hamilton, which became the basis of the “Hamilton” musical phenomenon.

Christina Greer , an associate professor of political science and American studies at Fordham University, is the author “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream.” She is regularly featured on MSNBC, NY1, and on her podcast, “The Aftermath” on Ozy.com.

John Grisham ’s name is synonymous with the legal thriller, a genre of novels that he has mastered, with over 400 million books in print. Nine of his books have been turned into major Hollywood films.

Brad Paisley is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and entertainer who has garnered three Grammys, two American Music Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards and 14 Country Music Association Awards (including Entertainer of the Year), among many others.

Jodi Picoult ’s latest novel, “The Book of Two Ways,” recently debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Picoult’s smart and socially-conscious books have been translated into 34 languages in 35 countries.

Sophfronia Scott is an award-winning journalist, novelist, essayist, memoirist, teacher, and short story writer. Her novels include “All I Need to Get By” and “Unforgivable Love.” Her articles have appeared in Time, People, O — The Oprah Magazine and more.

lkoonz@newstimes.com; Twitter: @LindaTKoonz

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