Newport Jazz Festival

Newport Jazz Festival 2014

Newport, Rhode Island, USA
Fort Adams State Park
41.479969, -71.337408 (View Map)
3 Days (Tue, 01 Aug 2017 - Thu, 03 Aug 2017)
Ticket Price
$47.25 - $74.00
Festival Planned

The 2014 Newport Jazz Festival will take place on the 1, 2 & 3rd of August and will celebrate it’s 60th anniversary (50 years it’s been held at Newport)! It’s one of the longest established jazz festivals in the world and over the years has hosted some of the finest jazz musicians you can think of.

The Newport Jazz Festival takes place in early August each year in the city of Newport, Rhode Island in the United States – midway between New York and Boston. This particular jazz festival has developed an international reputation over the years thanks to the many albums that were recorded here by performing artists.

This year, thanks to a $40,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, the festival organisers have added an extra day (Friday) to commemorate the events 60th anniversary. The festival is now often referred to as the “Grandfather of all jazz festivals.”

George Wein at Interview

George Wein at Interview

During a news conference on December 4th, George Wein, the festival founder stated “We have an obligation to present these people and make them better known, If we don’t, the art form will die. It will become a museum piece, and we’ll just be re-creating the music of the past. That’s not what jazz is about.”

Wein, 88, also stated “It’s going to be a fantastic year, the 60th anniversary, can you believe 60 years? I don’t feel that old — I am that old — but I don’t feel it.”

The attendance for the Newport Jazz Festival 2013 was 13,700 (7,500 people on Saturday and 6,200 people on Sunday). The Friday night event over at the open-air Newport Casino venue had a sell out crowd of 3,500 and was headlined by Natalie Cole. The 2014 festival is expected to be even bigger.


Video Highlights of the Newport Jazz Festival (mixed years)

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Newport Jazz Festival 1954 - Crowd and Stage

Newport Jazz Festival 1954

The Newport Jazz Festival was founded in 1954 by self-proclaimed socialite Elaine Lorillard together with her husband Louis Lorillard and jazz impresario George Wein. The first festival cost $20,000 to host and was self-funded by Elaine and Louis who continued to finance the festival up until 1961.

Initially the festival was held at Newport Casino in the Bellevue Avenue Historic District of Newport and later become known as the “First Annual American Jazz Festival” – It was the first ever dedicated outdoor jazz festival. Initially scheduled for only 2 days, in the first year the festival saw over 13,000 people come to see acts such as Billie Holiay, Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie perform – needless to say the event was hailed as a huge success, it was covered in many national newspapers as well as being broadcast on the radio station “Voice of America”.

1954 Newport Jazz Festival Program Cover Poster

1954 Newport Jazz Festival Program Cover / Poster

In 1955 the festival needed a new, larger venue and so it was decided to host it at Belcourt, a large estate which was purchased by Elaine and Louis for the sole purpose of hosting the event. Unfortunately their plans were foiled by their neighbour who opposed the plan and the venue had to be moved to Freebody Park instead which ironically was a sports arena right next to the casino (many of the none musical events were still however hosted at Belcourt. ie. workshops and receptions).

In 1960, the National Guard is called in to control hundreds of festival goers causing a riot over a rumour that the event would be cancelled. This year the festival lost thousands of pounds and the organisers decided to cancel next years event.

Show More History...
Miles Davis Combo Newport Jazz Festival 1958

Miles Davis Combo Newport Jazz Festival 1958

Over time, many jazz greats came to perform at the festival, including Louis Armstrong (1956, 1958, 1960-1963, 1970), Ella Fitzgerald (eg 1958), Duke Ellington (especially in 1956, a great success and revival of Ellington career), John Coltrane, Miles Davis (who had a huge success with his solo on Round Midnight 1955), Cannonball Adderley (eg 1957, 1961) and Dave Brubeck (eg 1958 , 1959, 1961) to name a few .

Ten Years After - Newport Jazz Festival 1969

Ten Years After – Newport Jazz Festival 1969

In 1969 the festival was back on. George Wein decided to introduce a wide variety of music genres to play at the festival including soul and rock artists. Jeff Beck, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Ten Years After and Jethro Tull, John Mayall and Sly & the Family Stone & Led Zeppelin were just a few of the acts which played. During this year there were some clashes amongst the crowds (again) as this time, many couldn’t get tickets for the festival and began causing trouble. It was this trouble that prompted George Wein to make an announcement to ‘cancel’ Sunday evening’s artist Led Zeppelin; later however, once all the rioters had left, the festival continued!

After the turbulent period in the late 1960s and early 70s, the festival returned to its jazz roots. In 2004, the 50th anniversary was celebrated with a US-wide tour and a CD release of the highlights of the festival, commented on by George Wein himself.

The Newport Jazz Festival has not always been hosted in Fort Adams State Park. In 1972 the festival moved to New York. In 1981 it returned to Newport and established itself as a ‘two-site’ festival whilst operations continued to run in New York.

The festival’s name changed from 1984-2008 when it became known as the JVC Jazz Festival. Unfortunately, in 2009 JVC pulled their sponsorship due to the economic crises and were replaced by CareFusion who were the main festival sponsors up until 2012. From 2012 onwards, the festival has been sponsored by Natixis Global Asset Management.

When asked about the beginnings of the festival a few years back, Wein said “Economically, jazz musicians could not draw large crowds as individuals, not since the big band days. Jazz had become club music. Jazz musicians needed a festival. By bringing many groups together we could draw many kinds of jazz fans. It became a great source of public relations for the music. People wrote about festivals because they were happenings. They were important events, successful from the start.”

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Lineup & Schedule

The lineup for the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival is SHOWN BELOW.

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Friday, August 1, 2014, 8:00 pm – International Tennis Hall of Fame

  • Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
  • Dee Dee Bridgewater – To Billie with Love

Friday, August 1, 2014, 11:30 am – 6:00 pm – Fort Adams State Park, 90 Fort Adams Drive

  • Jon Batiste & Stay Human
  • John Zorn’s Masada Marathon: Dave Douglas, Marc Ribot, Cyro Baptista, Mark Feldman,
  • Erik Friedlander, Ikue Mori, Greg Cohen, Joey Baron, Kenny Wollesen & many others
  • Miguel Zenón Big Band
  • Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
  • Snarky Puppy
  • Cécile McLorin Salvant
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa – Charlie Parker Project, A World Premier
  • Amir ElSaffar Quintet with Ole Mathisen, John Escreet, Francois Moutin & Dan Weiss
  • Mostly Other People Do The Killing: Steve Bernstein, Jon Irabagon, Dave Taylor,
  • Brandon Seabrook, Ron Stabinsky, Moppa Elliott & Kevin Shea
  • Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors
  • University of Rhode Island Newport Jazz Big Band

Saturday, August 2, 2014, 10:30 am – 7:00 pm – Fort Adams State Park

  • Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
  • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
  • Dave Holland Prism with Kevin Eubanks, Craig Taborn & Eric Harland
  • Gregory Porter
  • Robert Glasper Experiment
  • SF Jazz Collective: Miguel Zenón, Avishai Cohen, David Sanchez, Robin
  • Eubanks, Warren Wolf, Edward Simon, Matt Penman & Obed Calvaire
  • Cécile McLorin Salvant
  • Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band with Jon Cowherd, Chris Thomas,
  • Melvin Butler & Myron Walden
  • Pedrito Martinez Group featuring Ariacne Trujillo with Alvaro Benavides & Jhaire Sala
  • Dick Hyman, Howard Alden & Jay Leonhart
  • Kurt Rosenwinkel New Quartet
  • Newport Now 60 Band: Anat Cohen, Karrin Allyson, Randy Brecker, Mark Whitfield,
  • Peter Martin, Larry Grenadier & Clarence Penn
  • Umbria Jazz presents Stefano Bollani & Hamilton de Holanda
  • Symposium on Jazz
  • And More …

Sunday, August 3, 2014, 10:30 am – 7:00 pm – Fort Adams State Park

  • Bobby McFerrin spirityouall
  • David Sanborn & Joey DeFrancesco with Billy Hart & Warren Wolf
  • Dr. John & The Nite Trippers
  • Gary Burton New Quartet with Julian Lage, Scott Colley & Marcus Gilmore
  • Vijay Iyer Sextet with Graham Haynes, Mark Shim, Steve Lehman,
  • Stephan Crump & Marcus Gilmore
  • Danilo Perez Panama 500 with Ben Street, Adam Cruz & Roman Diaz
  • Django Festival All-Stars featuring Samson Schmitt, Ludovic Beier,
  • Pierre Blanchard, DouDou Cuillerier & Brian Torff
  • Ron Carter Trio with Russell Malone & Donald Vega
  • Lee Konitz Quartet with special guest Grace Kelly
  • Ravi Coltrane
  • The Cookers: Gary Bartz, Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, David Weiss, George Cables,
  • Cecil McBee & Billy Hart
  • Mingus Big Band
  • The Brubeck Brothers
  • George Wein & Newport All-Stars with Anat Cohen, Howard Alden, Randy Brecker,
  • Lew Tabackin, Jay Leonhart & Lewis Nash
  • And More …

what do you think of this years lineup?

The 2013 Newport Jazz Festival lineup / Schedule / Programme


  • Natalie Cole
  • Bill Charlap Trio with special guest Freddy Cole

Saturday, August 3, 2013 – FORT ADAMS STATE PARK

  • Wayne Shorter’s 80th Birthday Celebration: Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci & Brian Blade plus special guest Herbie Hancock
  • Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society
  • Marcus Miller
  • Michel Camilo Sextet
  • Terence Blanchard Quintet
  • Robert Glasper Experiment
  • Gregory Porter
  • Bill Charlap Trio with special guests Bob Wilber & Anat Cohen
  • Edmar Castañeda with special guest Andrea Tierra
  • Lew Tabackin Quartet with Randy Brecker, Peter Washington & Lewis Nash
  • Ray Anderson Pocket Brass Band
  • Rez Abbasi Trio
  • Amir ElSaffar Two Rivers
  • Mary Halvorson Quintet
  • From Berklee College of Music: The Ali Amr Experiment
  • RI Music Educators Association Senior All-State Jazz Ensemble

Sunday, August 4, 2013 – FORT ADAMS STATE PARK

  • Chick Corea & The Vigil with Christian McBride, Tim Garland, Marcus Gilmore, & Charles Altura
  • Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra
  • Dizzy Gillespie™ Big Band under the direction of Paquito D’Rivera
  • Hiromi: The Trio Project with Anthony Jackson & Steve Smith
  • Joshua Redman Quartet
  • Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band
  • Steve Coleman Projects: Five Elements, Talea Ensemble and Duo with David Bryant
  • Jim Hall with Scott Colley, Lewis Nash and special guest Julian Lage
  • Dirty Dozen Brass Band
  • Jon Batiste & Stay Human
  • Dee Alexander – “Songs That My Mother Loved”
  • Donny McCaslin Group
  • David Gilmore & Numerology featuring Claudia Acuña, Miguel Zenón, Luis Perdomo, Christian McBride, Jeff “Tain” Watts & Mino Cinelu
  • MA Music Educators Association All-State Jazz Band
  • University of Rhode Island Jazz Festival Big Band

A review of the 2013 performances here.


A 1969 Ticket Stub to the Newport Jazz Festival.

A 1969 Ticket Stub to the Newport Jazz Festival.

Tickets for the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival come in a number of forms: Regular tickets (adult, student & child) & “Flex” tickets (purchased in advance, valid for 1 day – either Saturday or Sunday; 2 flex tickets needed to attend the whole weekend. Limited in number.)

The cheaper “flex” tickets are exactly the same as regular tickets but purchased in advance from (and thus come with an ‘early-bird’ discount), flex tickets can be used on either Saturday or Sunday (also for the Friday evening convert at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport Casino but it works out to be more expensive than buying a regular ticket). Flex tickets are also not valid on reserved seating.

Students older than 15 with valid student ID’s can purchase special ‘Student Tickets’ for US $20. A limited number of “Flex” student tickets are also available. Students are required to enter through the ‘Student Gate’ when entering the venue. Students can use Flex tickets for Friday as well.

Ticket prices for the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival are as follows:

Tickets for Friday 1st August 2014, Newport Jazz Festival

Standard Day Ticket: $47.25 ($40.00 + $7.25 ticket processing fee)
Student Tickets (ID Required): $24.75 (US $20.00 + US $4.75 fees)
Children Tickets: $18.50 (US $15.00 + US $3.50 fees)

Newport Jazz Festival 2014 Regular Tickets for Saturday and/or Sunday

Regular Adult Ticket: US $74.00
Regular Student Ticket: US $20.00
Regular Child Ticket: US $15.00

Newport Jazz Festival 2014 “Flex” Tickets for Saturday and/or Sunday (Valid only for 1 day, purchased in advance)

Standard Adult Flex Ticket: US $62.25 (US $55.00 + US $7.25 fees)
Student Flex Ticket: US $24.75 (US $20.00 + US $4.75 fees)
Child Flex Ticket: US $18.50 (US $15.00 + US $3.50 fees)

*** Flex tickets are limited in number and sold on a first come first serve basis. You can only purchase them online here via TicketMaster and you’ll need to input the ‘offer code’ NJFLEX in order to see prices and process payment. ***

Flex tickets can also be purchased in person by visiting the Newport County Visitors Center. For hours and location visit

There is an 8 ticket limit per household.

Please help secure the future of this event by sharing on your social media channels. It only takes 2 seconds and with your support we can increase exposure of the event, boost ticket sales, attract more festival-goers and organize better festivals for the future. We need your support, if you can, please help. Thank you.


Newport Jazz Festival 2014 Fort Adams Venue Map

Newport Jazz Festival 2014 Fort Adams Venue Map

This years Newport Jazz Festival will take place in Fort Adams State Park & the Newport Casino (International Tennis Hall Of Fame – more info at bottom of this page), Newport, Rhode Island.

The Newport Casino will host the Friday Night paid concert and has a capacity of 3,500.

The Fort Adams State Park will be the venue for the weekend and offers panoramic views of the Newport Harbor and the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. During the festival, artists will perform on 3 unique stages as depicted in the venue map to the right. The Fort Adams State Park can accommodate / has a capacity of around 10,000 people.

The Panoramic Views of the Newport Jazz Festival

The Panoramic Views of the Newport Jazz Festival

A little bit of history: The Metropolitan Park Commission of Rhode Island purchased the state’s first park on the 12th February 1909 to coincide with President Abraham Lincoln’s 100th birthday. Outside of the festival dates the venue is used for all types of recreational activities including football, rugby, fishing and even salt water bathing.

Some FAQ’s on the venue:

1. What time does everything open?
BOX OFFICE opens at 9am / GATES open at 10am
PARKING opens at 8am / Shuttles start at 9am / WATER TAXIS start at 7am
FOOD & CRAFTS start at 10am / MUSIC STARTS at 10:30am

2. Is there parking on-site?
Yes. Limited on-site festival parking available at Fort Adams State Park available: $12.00 per vehicle in advance; $15.00 on festival weekend. To purchase in advance, select parking option during ticket buying process. Parking opens at 8am.

3. Are there alternatives to driving to the Fort?

Old Port Marine Newport Harbour Shuttle Ferry

Old Port Marine Newport Harbour Shuttle Ferry

BY WATER SHUTTLE: The Newport Harbor Shuttle provides continuous service between Perrotti Park or the Oldport Marine Dock on America’s Cup Ave in the Mooring Restaurant parking lot and Fort Adams beginning at 8 AM. Cost is $10.00 round trip and no reservations are required.

From Jamestown, take the Jamestown & Newport Ferry – servicing Jamestown, Perrotti Park & Ft. Adams, leaving Jamestown & Newport approximately every 30 min.

A small list of what is allowed inside the festival:

• Only one small hand held cooler (no larger than 16×12) per person allowed
• Maximum size for individual blankets is 8’x 10′
• Low-backed chairs only (under 30″) to ensure good viewing for others
• Hand held still cameras

• No glass containers admitted. All coolers will be searched.
• No alcohol
• No Pets
• No beach umbrellas, tripods or anything that could obstruct the view of others
• No audio and visual recording devices


You are allowed to bring your own food into the festival grounds but only 1 small cooler (no larger than 16×12). No glass containers are allowed as all coolers are searched. Also no alcohol.

Food is sold in various outlets inside the festival grounds at reasonable prices.

Flights & Transportation

The nearest major airport to Fort Adams State Park, Newport, Rhode Island (Festival Venue) is the Theodore Francis Green Memorial State Airport (PVD / KPVD). This airport has domestic flights from Providence, Rhode Island and is 29 miles from the center of Newport, RI.

Another major airport is New Bedford Regional Airport (EWB / KEWB), which has domestic flights from New Bedford, Massachusetts and is 31 miles from Newport, RI.

International airports near Newport, RI

74 miles: Boston Logan International Airport – Boston, MA (BOS / KBOS)
101 miles: Bradley International Airport – Hartford, CT (BDL / KBDL)
173 miles: LaGuardia Airport – New York, NY (LGA / KLGA)
180 miles: John F. Kennedy International Airport – New York, NY (JFK / KJFK)

Domestic airports near Newport, RI

29 miles: Theodore Francis Green Memorial State Airport – Providence, RI (PVD / KPVD)
31 miles: New Bedford Regional Airport – New Bedford, MA (EWB / KEWB)
67 miles: Nantucket Memorial Airport – Nantucket, MA (ACK / KACK)
74 miles: Boston Logan International Airport – Boston, MA (BOS / KBOS)
78 miles: Barnstable Municipal Airport – Hyannis, MA (HYA / KHYA)
87 miles: Martha’s Vineyard Airport – Vineyard Haven, MA (MVY / KMVY)
96 miles: Tweed New Haven Regional Airport – New Haven, CT (HVN / KHVN)
101 miles: Bradley International Airport – Hartford, CT (BDL / KBDL)
123 miles: Provincetown Municipal Airport – Provincetown, MA (PVC / KPVC)
124 miles: Manchester-Boston Regional Airport – Manchester, NH (MHT / KMHT)

Currently 7 airlines operate from Theodore Francis Green Memorial State Airport:

To get the best flight deals I would use SkyScanner‘s official search widget below.

Transport options to Fort Adams State Park, Newport, Rhode Island from the Airport.


The cheapest accommodation options I could find in and around Newport, Rhode Island during the festival period (Early August) are shown below (Click HERE for a complete list):

*** Hotel prices rise exponentially as you get closer to the festival dates. Book early to avoid disappointment. ***

Hotels Combined

If you are on a super shoe-string budget then search HostelWorld and get a bed in Newport for as little as $49.00!

I would recommend checking Newport, RI hotel reviews on TripAdvisor prior to placing any booking. Alternatively, why don’t you try something different and rent someones apartment during the festival period at AirBnB?! Click here for a free £15 credit towards your first booking!

2014 Fort Getty Campground map

2014 Fort Getty Campground map

2014 Fort Getty RV Campsites map

2014 Fort Getty RV Campsites map

Note that there is NO TENT CAMPING at the Newport Jazz Festival/Fort Adams State Park this year. However, if you were looking to camp outside during the festival period, you could check out the Fort Getty Recreational Area where you can camp for the following prices:

  • Seasonal RV (Jamestown resident)~ $3,700
  • Seasonal RV (non-resident)~ $4,500
  • Seasonal Boat (must be Jamestown resident or seasonal camper)~ $600
  • Tent (Nightly) ~ $25 (1 tent per site, 3 adults per site)
  • Daily Parking ~ $20 (must vacate by 10:00 pm)
  • Daily Parking w/ Boat ~ $30 (must vacate by 10:00 pm)
  • Non-Resident Seasonal Parking Pass $100
  • Seasonal RV Waiting List ~ $10

Interview with Danny Melnick

Recently Festival Archive was lucky enough to interview Danny Melnick, Associate Producer of the Newport Jazz festival. We asked him a few questions about this years festival, hear what he has to say below.

The Newport Jazz Festival is now in its 60th year which is a brilliant achievement and one you must be proud of. Can you tell us how long you have been working with the festival and give a little history as to how you made your way into your current position?

I started working for George Wein and his company at the time, Festival Productions, Inc., in April 1990 as the JVC NY Jazz Festival box office manager. It was to be a one-time season position. I stayed until 1996, returned in 1998 and was with him until he sold the company in 2007. I worked on numerous festivals, concerts & tours during those years and in Newport for all of them. George’s longtime associate and senior talent coordinator, Marie St. Louis, passed away in 1999 and I assumed that role as she fell ill, and upon my return to FPI in October 1998. I booked the artists who performed at Newport from the 1999 through 2007 festivals, including the 50th anniversary event in 2004. I now own a production company named Absolutely Live Entertainment, LLC. George invited back to Newport as his associate producer and talent coordinator for the 2012 festival and we are now in our 3rd year of our 3rd incarnation together!

Many people would think that planning a festival would be an ideal job but I can imagine that it must be fraught with stresses and complications. During your role within the festival what do you find to be the most challenging aspects of your job?

It is both an ideal job and stressful and complicated. The work is a joy but the issues evolve as the process does. First we are dealing with artist negotiations and hope they go smoothly and we confirm the artist we’d like. That never goes exactly the way we’d like. Then we have months of production planning, marketing & publicity efforts, ticket selling, sponsorship management and many other responsibilities. I look at the festival as a large jig-saw puzzle. All the pieces need to fit just right.

The lineup for the Newport Jazz Festival has not yet been officially released, are you able to give us any clues or hints as to who we might be able to expect in 2014?

You jest! We will announce the lineup in late January but a few artist names have already been released including Trombone Shorty, John Zorn, Miguel Zenon’s Big Band, Dave Holland’s Prism group featuring Kevin Eubanks, Craig Taborn and Eric Harland; Ron Carter Trio, Cecile McLoren Salvant and Lee Konitz, who appeared at the first festival in 1954.

View Rest of Interview

It’s always been a great mystery to me as to how the festival handles act selection. Are there specific criteria that artists have to meet? Are acts selected purely on talent and performance alone or do your gut instincts and emotions come into play when making decisions? Also, who has the final say as to who performs (if there is just one artistic visionary?!)?

The festival lineup criteria has evolved over the years but since the 50th festival in 2004 and particularly since we’ve become a not-for-profit entity, George Wein has made sure we focus on “real jazz.” But we leave that definition to others. We focus on presenting meaningful, artistically important artists from many eras representing numerous styles – from the great legends to the finest emerging artists who are making a name for themselves now. The festival showcases relevant artists who we believe “have something to say,” and we want to do everything we can to support them.

Over the years the festival has grown from strength to strength and has now established itself as one of the great events in the international jazz festival circuit; what do you think has been the key to the festivals continued success and what are some of the major difficulties your team are faced with each year?

The festival takes place at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and at Fort Adams State Park. These are two of the finest “sites” in the world for hosting a festival. They are idyllic locations that audiences love to visit and we thrive at presenting the artists at these locations. The festival has never lost that original energy it experienced in 1954 and we are always working hard to keep it fresh and meaningful. The difficulties are always evolving but we deal with them as they come. The weather is another story!

Can you tell us a little about your favourite moments of the past 2013 Newport Jazz Festival?

My single favorite moment was being able to sit in the audience for most of the Jim Hall/Julian Lage set. They performed with Scott Colley on bass and Lewis Nash on drums and it was one of the most beautiful and moving sets of music I have ever heard. Jim passed away a few weeks ago and I am so grateful I had and took the opportunity to pause and sit and listen. It was amazing.

Are there any programmes/clinics, educational or otherwise, that run alongside the Newport Jazz Festival? If people wished to participate in any of them what is the best way for them to find out some more information?

The Newport Festivals Foundation, the 501(c)(3) entity that owns the Newport Jazz and Newport Folk Festivals, is focused on music education and we are developing our programs now. For the last few years and this year, we will produce a jazz educational program on International Jazz Day, April 30, in Newport. And we are also presenting an important “symposium” during the Saturday, August 2 festival program. Details on both of these events will be announced soon.

The festival has now been around for a long time and some would say that the past couple of years has been the festivals’ best years, how do you strive to make each year better than the last and where do you see the festival in 10 years?

We don’t really look to eclipse last year. We focus on producing each festival as it’s own unique experience and strive to book a diverse roster of artists. I have no idea what will be in 10 years from now as things constantly change but I am committed to do whatever I can to make sure the festival is still thriving then and beyond that time.

Organising a festival of this calibre takes incredible skill, team-work, coordination and dedication. Outside of your direct festival planning team (who seem to do an outstanding job by the way!) is there any person or groups of people you would like to especially thank for their help in making the festival a success?

Outside of the fantastic all-star team we have, the four most important groups that keep the festival alive, in no particular order because they are all equally important, are the artists, the audience, the sponsors and the Foundation Board of Directors. If any of these groups doesn’t hold up their end of the grand bargain, we’d be in trouble.

Many people say that it’s the festivals diverse range of jazz styles and the introduction of other similar music genres that has led to the success of the festival. How do you manage to walk the fine line between keeping both the jazz purists happy with the programme lineup and audiences with lets say a more ‘general’ taste in music?

As I said earlier, we let others define what jazz is or what it means to them. We know we need to draw people to the festival and we know we want to support the creative artists who have dedicated their lives to performing this music.

What is the biggest marketing challenge you face when trying to spread the word about the festival? Are there any particular avenues or strategies you have focussed on that have led to noticably good results?

As with everything today, getting past the clutter is a big challenge. We do almost “everything” to market the festival aside from branding a blimp or hiring a biplane to pull a banner along the beach. George Wein has been composing personal emails to our audience and we’re definitely seeing positive results from his efforts.

What would be your best advice for somebody visiting the festival for the very first time?

Prepare for sun and rain. Ya’ never know in Newport. Sunscreen, hat and light raincoat. And don’t try to bring too much “stuff” into the festival. All the rules & suggestions are on our website!

Can you give an estimate for your predicted turnout/attendance rate for the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival?

We will have three days of music at Fort Adams and one night at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I haven’t really focused on a number yet but I’d venture to say we’ll have close to or a bit more than 20,000 attendees.

And finally, who are your personal all-time favourite jazz performers?

Impossible to list!! Hundreds of amazing, talented and awe-inspiring artists whom I am so thankful I have heard both live and on recordings.

We would like to make a special thanks to Danny and his team for taking the time out of their busy schedule to answer these questions. We wish you all the best with this upcoming festival.

Outside of the Festival

If you’re not from Newport or even Rhode Island and you’ve come just for the jazz festival then it would be a shame not to take a couple of days to explore the surrounding areas and see what else Newport has to offer.

My top recommendations for anyone looking to have a relaxing but enjoyable time in Newport, RI:

#1 – Taking a drive along Ocean Drive (aka, the 10-mile drive)


mansion on Bellevue Avenue

mansion on Bellevue Avenue

No trip to Newport would be the same without taking a few hours or day to enjoy the delights of the ‘Great’ Ocean Drive. This coastal drive is known to have some of the best views over the New England shoreline and is bordered by many magnificent million dollar mansions, many of which you’re allowed to go inside of.

The Ocean Drive is situated in the historic district of Newport and leads you down Bellevue Avenue where you’ll find many famous mansions such as the The Breakers, Gooseberry Beach and Newport Country Club.

There are many places to stop your car and go to secluded little beaches, perfect on a sunny day but equally as nice when the weather is not so good. Perfect for families and couples alike. I would recommend starting on Thames Street, then travel along Wellington and continue on following the signs. You can also walk the length if you fancy it, dogs allowed.

#2 – Visit “The Breakers” one of Newport’s most impressive mansions/museums

The Breakers Great Hall

The Breakers Great Hall

Having received its name from the views of the Atlantic waves crashing together, the Breakers, along with it’s 13-acre estate is probably one of Newport’s most well known Mansions and Museums. It’s on Bellevue Avenue (see above) and is a must see for anybody visiting the area.

The museum offers a self-guided audio tour and gives history all the way back to the 18th Century, it really is fantastic and allows you to walk through at your own pace. It is most beautiful to see at Christmas time when the decorations are up and if there’s snow it’s even more breath-taking. If you can go, I’d recommend getting there as soon as the doors open to avoid the crowds. You can take some photographs for memories on the first floor.

#3 – Brush up on your Sporting History and visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum

Tennis Hall of Fame from outside

Tennis Hall of Fame from outside

If you’re into your tennis, or even if you’re not, a great few hours can be spent at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum at 194 Bellevue Ave, Newport ((401) 849-3990). It was built in 1880 by McKim, Mead & White and offers a details chronicle of tennis through many well placed and informative exhibits, videos and memorabilia donated by ex-champions of the sport.

I’m not particularly interested in tennis but I found myself spending 4 hours there last time I was in Newport, it’s properly enjoyable and hard to tear yourself away from.

There are 235 Hall of Famers, representing 20 countries. In 1986, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the governing body of tennis, officially recognized the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum as the sport’s official Hall of Fame. The property today is now 6 acres and consists of the Newport Casino, 13 grass courts, 1 clay court, an indoor tennis facility, the Court Tennis facility, a grandstand and a historic 297-seat theatre. In July, the venue annually hosts the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup, the only ATP professional grass court tournament in the Americas. These are the only professional grass courts that are open to the public for play. – Source: Trip Advisor

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Post last updated by Paul Thomson on April 30, 2014
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