George Wein is hoping that his Newport Jazz Festival this weekend is as successful as his Newport Folk Festival was last weekend.
While there were rumors of the folk festival tradition ending in Newport a couple of years ago, a sudden resurgence in the genre, plus some powerhouse performers, brought an early sellout to this year’s festival.
The festivals are a testimony to how to run a music festival. While folk music usually attracts a laid-back, mellow audience of older folks reliving the ’60s, this year’s lineup attracted a mostly younger crowd. The recent trend of standing during the entire concert was recognized by the organizers, who set aside a large area in front of the Fort Stage for the younger, sturdier fans, while we old-timers sat on either side in our beach chairs. All three music venues, plus an added children’s tent (wise move) were SRO for every performance.
I was amazed at how patiently people waited in line at the food booths and port-a-johns and how courteous people were as they maneuvered over spread blankets to find their spot.
Oh yes, the music. Older fans came to hear Pete Seeger, Emmy Lou Harris, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and Earl Scruggs, while the young crowd came for names I had never heard of: Middle Brother, Trampled by Turtles, The Secret Sisters and Chris Thile. All age groups enjoyed the incredible “Queen of Rockabilly,” Wanda Jackson and the headliner, Elvis Costello.
The good news is that folk music is still very much alive. Sometimes it is hard to define, as folk today blends a bit of jazz, pop and even some rap and often pushes the boundaries.
Jazz Festival this weekend
Tickets were still available as of this writing for what promises to be another winner in the long history of the Newport Jazz Festival.
Like its folk counterpart, the festival at Fort Adams in Newport will be a blend of the old and the new, and boundaries will again be pushed. The festival opens Friday, Aug. 5 at the Newport International Tennis Hall of Fame with Michael Feinstein and Wynton Marsalis, and continues Saturday and Sunday at Fort Adams.
I’m looking forward to jazz pianist Hiromi, Marsalis, Esperanda Spalding, and Al DiMeola on Saturday, and Trombone Shorty and the Brubeck Brothers (with the amazing Dave Brubeck) on Sunday. Some of the artists, including Spalding and Hiromi, will be on the bill both days.
Grace Kelly, the fabulous young singer-sax player, will close the show with Phil Woods on Saturday night. We saw Kelly last year, both in Newport and at the Park Theatre in Cranston.
The music begins at 11:20 a.m., and you can hear a lot of great sounds on all three stages up to 6:30.
Remember to bring sunscreen, water, a hat and food if you wish. We prefer to visit the venders, especially that lovely lady who sells fresh strawberry shortcake. There are also some very eclectic craft booths.
For more information of the jazz festival, go to http://newportjazzfest.net.