Watch the crew of the good ship, MADELEINE tell us about the history of the Fort Adams State Park, as it relates to the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals.
Hear how the local boating community enjoys the music.
Every summer the Newport Festivals Foundation (NFF) set two concerts: The Newport Folk Festival is the last weekend in July, and The Newport Jazz Festival is the following weekend in August. In 2012, we attended both, back to back weekends, with some sailing mid-week. We provided full coverage of the The Newport Folk Festival 2012 and were just getting started with The Jazz Fest excitement. Both events were among the music and vacation highlights of the year, so we vowed to be back.
This year we focused on The 2013 Newport Jazz Festival, which ran from August 2 through August 4th. We attended on August 3rd. The event is presented by Natixis Global Asset Management and heavily sponsored by Alex and Ani. Full coverage is provided by NPR Music and also the Jazz Times crew were there, among many outstanding media outlets throughout the Northeast.
With three stages, a huge field of crafts, music and food vendors, as well as excellent facilities for the 7,500 people in attendance this year, I am always amazed at how the NFF has pulled this off without any hitches. Festival goers and music revelers know, the man to thank is Mr. George Wein. In 1954, George Wein crafted the idea for an outdoor music festival to showcase the up and coming jazz acts in the region and this spurred outdoor music festivals throughout the country.
Arrive at the Fort Adams State Park early, and take a water taxi to get there. It is always beautiful and engaging, with a delightful mix of people involved in the festival on board. This year, I sat next to Natalie Cole's family, who were chatting away about her performance at Friday's gala. On the way back we were seated with production crew from the Jazz Fest and musicians, who got to ride for free.
Walking through the venue before the doors opened gave me some quiet time to get to know the vendors and staff. Friendly people, working hard for a cause we all understand, but can't put into words - Music. And how music improves people lives. Two vendors were setting up, one sold music CD's and the other sold original paintings. I overheard them talking about why they come to the NJF each year.
"I'm here for the music and the atmosphere."
"I'm here to get back to my cultural roots and reclaim my African heritage."
The whole production hummed, despite the morning rain. When the gates opened, the security team said one thing to the crowd of people who were decked out with beautiful hats, lawn chairs, jazz/blues t-shirts, picnic coolers and rain gear - grown adults were told something they rarely hear or only say, themselves, to their children -
"Walk, please - do not run."
But these grown men and women with their children in two, hundred dollar hats and vintage record collections ran. It was a controlled mature run, but they sped to get the prime spots for viewing the Fort Stage at the Newport Jazz Festival. With a huge party planned to celebrate the great Wayne Shorter's birthday, and Marcus Miller to wrap up the Saturday evening, wouldn't you?
The wonderful thing about the Jazz festival is that once you claim your spot, you are there for the day and can move around to the other stages, only to come back and find your chair and blanket intact. The Jazz fest crowd are sublime and respectful, with a deep appreciation for the music that brings them there. It is music history unfolding before us and the patrons there know the impact of it because they have been part of this for decades. I seek to learn something new with every article I write for this website. When I go to the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals, I listen and take a lot of notes. In the upcoming weeks we will be posting many reviews on this event.
Check back to this column for our complete in depth articles of select artists from The 2013 Newport Jazz Festival.
For the artist line-up of the Newport Jazz Festival this year, visit their website: