One of the oldest and most storied American summer music events, Newport Jazz Festival, will return to Rhode Island Friday, July 29 through Sunday, July 31st.
Founded over a half century ago by jazz pianist George Wein in 1954, the festival played a critical role in the early days of jazz, solidifying the genre’s important place in American history and catalyzing the careers of jazz geniuses like Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Nina Simone and many others.
Among this year’s impressive line-up of artists scheduled to perform on four stages within Fort Adams State Park are Norah Jones, Tierney Sutton, Bad Plus, Angélique Kidjo, Nels Cline, Charles Lloyd New Quartet, Galactic, Kamasi Washington, Kneebody, and Donny McCaslin Group. View the full festival line-up here.
One set you certainly won’t want to miss is Joey Alexander Trio playing on Saturday, July 30th. Joey Alexander is a 12-year-old jazz sensation from Bali, Indonesia. The child prodigy has been playing jazz since age 6, and has performed for Herbie Hancock, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. This will be his second time at Newport, here’s a clip from his 2015 performance:
In addition to the three days of music at Fort Adams, Gregory Porter and Chick Corea Trilogy with Christian McBride and Brian Blade are scheduled to play at Newport’s newly renovated International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum at Newport Casino on Friday the 29th. Don’t miss a chance to walk around the grounds for a multimedia learning experience about the history of tennis before you get your jazz fix.
Download the official Newport Jazz Festival app for complete schedules and festival map.
For the best food in town and a romantic date spot, get a reservation at Bouchard, a small French fine dining restaurant on Lower Thames Street owned by acclaimed chef Albert Bouchard and his wife Sarah. The Homard et St. Jacques Cardinal Gratinés (Re-stuffed Roasted Lobster and Scallops with Truffle, Gruyere Cheese and Lobster Sauce) will not disappoint, and be sure to save room for Soufflé Grand Marnier. For something different, go next door to try Albert & Sarah’s other restaurant Revolving Door where they host a rotating cast of international chefs and new menus each month. As an added bonus, here you can sip craft cocktails designed by Jason Kindness, the most celebrated mixologist on Aquidneck Island. If you’re in the mood for steak and hearty American fare, do not pass up 22 Bowen’s, which was recently voted the best steakhouse in Rhode Island by Business Insider.
In Newport, there’s no shortage of places to sip and sunset gaze, outdoors or indoors. If it’s fair weather, the Lawn at Castle Hill Inn is the place to be. Lounge in Adirondack chairs with gorgeous views of Narragansett Bay and Jamestown. Friendly waitstaff will come by to take your cocktail order, and if you’re lucky, you might see a pod of dolphins swim through the bay. Closer to the heart of town, the Spiced Pear at Cliff Walk is another excellent outdoor cocktail bar option, located at the five star Chanler Inn, voted the 5th Best Hotel in the US this year by Travel & Leisure. Head to the water’s edge for a great sunset view while yachts come and go at Bannister’s Wharf. Upstairs at Fluke Wine Bar, choose from a large selection of craft cocktails and artisanal wines while the setting sun lights up the intimate bar area. If you forgot your shades, don’t worry, the bartender will give you a spare pair. For some open air and a bit more of a boisterous scene, head up to the Sky Bar at Clark Cooke House, just steps away from Fluke.
Several of Aquidneck Island’s beaches are a short drive from town, and would be worth a visit before or after the Jazz Festival. Most visitors head down Memorial Drive to Easton’s Beach or First Beach as the locals call it, but most locals prefer Second Beach (Sachuest Beach) further down the road in Middletown. Here you’ll find surfers, and if you go early enough, plenty of parking. Have the kids with you? Third Beach on the bay side is a great option. Continue down the road from Second Beach to Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge for a short, manageable 1-2mi hike with scenic views of the Sakonnett River and interesting flora and fauna.