So You're Going To Play Newport 2023 ....

Newport Stage (photo by Laura Fedele for WFUV)
by Kara Manning | 08/30/2023 | 6:46am

Newport Stage (photo by Laura Fedele for WFUV)

Are you heading to either the sold-out Newport Folk Festival (July 28-30) or the nearly sold-out Newport Jazz Festival (August 4-6) — or both? If you're primed to see emerging and legendary musicians play those storied stages (and eager to catch some surprise collaborations and history happening), know that the artists who are Rhode Island-bound are just as eager to dive headlong into this marvelous mix of music magic as you are.

Last year, we asked an assortment of artists and bands about what playing Newport means to them and we're continuing that tradition with the Class of 2023. Newport is a feather in any musician's touring cap, but it's also a meeting ground, giving folks a chance to meet up with old friends, connect with new ones, and forge a network of creative camaraderie. Like the performers, the audience is a panoply of multiple generations, and as the jazz festival nears its 70th anniversary in 2024 (founded in 1954) and the folk festival its 65th (founded in 1959), the breezy summertime bliss of the Newport experience has never been more potent.

Team FUV was at the Newport Folk Festival too — read all about that, and check out our photo album via FUV's Flickr. Below, videos of last year's festival highlights.

Bring along a hat and plenty of sunscreen, drink lots of water, and get ready for never-ending good vibes — which the musicians below are already feeling as their Newport moment fast approaches:

Durand Jones
"I was gonna play the Folk Festival last year, but my stepmom of 28 years passed away unexpectedly. She was a huge part of shaping me as a musician, and ironically her funeral was the same day I was going to perform at the festival. This time around feels totally new, and freeing in so many ways. To get the opportunity to come back and this time getting to Jazz Fest — it feels like an amazing chance to express myself in a new light."

"Playing Newport Folk feels very special to me. I played once before with my band (Of Monsters and Men) years ago, so I’m expecting a lot of nostalgia. I’m just excited to return on stage, see people, hopefully catch a lot of the shows by the many great artists playing, and to be part of the unique experience that is Newport Folk."

Danielle Ponder
"Newport Folk Fest is a legendary festival I've always wanted to play. The artists I admire have played at this festival, and I love the sense of the community they have built and their commitment to authentic voices and authentic artistry."

Madison Cunningham
"I think those who get to perform and attend Newport Folk Festival hold reverence for the history and what it stands for, and for the music it represents in the present. For me, it’s connecting with the people that light up over the same things. Music, art, and oysters. I’ve been looking forward to this for months."

Abraham Alexander
"The most meaningful thing about playing Newport Folk Festival is the legacy. For me to be added on to the incredible legacy that has graced the stage is absolutely surreal. I used to watch festival performances and learn as much history as I could on YouTube, and to actually be playing something that I used to seek out to be inspired by is truly a blessing."

The Beths' Elizabeth Stokes
"We are looking forward to playing such an iconic festival and hopefully leaving with a new favorite artist!"

Alice Phoebe Lou
"All the music I grew up on, all the powerful songwriters of my parents’ youth that I fell in love with and have been inspired by, have played at Newport and it feels surreal to join them in song and spirit. To have my second US festival be such a monumental one feels like a real blessing and I'm so looking forward to being a part of a festival I have long revered, and playing to an audience that really cares."

Remi Wolf
"I have heard the most overwhelmingly positive things about Newport Folk and the experience of playing the festival. It feels profoundly unique compared to a lot of festivals out there. I look forward to being able to play alongside so many musicians who I admire so much — and lobster rolls in Newport."

Thee Sacred Souls's Josh Lane
"It’s an amazing honor to play the stage that so many legends before us have poured their souls onto! To be added to the 63-year-old roster is a priceless achievement."

Harlem Gospel Travelers' Ifedayo Gatling
"Every tour has an apex — that one show both the artist and the fans look forward to. And for this tour, Newport is definitely that. We have been planning and looking forward to Newport all year. When the entire team gets excited, you get excited. To be able to play this stage that has played such a role in music history. It’s an honor and we are ready to be a part of that history!"

Alfa Mist
"I used to watch videos of Newport Jazz Festival live performances online. It's crazy that I’ll actually get to be there, playing my own music. Looking forward to it!"

Indigo De Souza
"I am super excited and nervous about collaborating with other artists live. I don't often get to challenge myself in that way, and I am interested to see how it goes!"

Gregory Alan Isakov
"I always leave Newport Folk Festival so inspired. I think I’ve discovered some of my favorite bands there. I'm going with an open mind, excited to hear what’s happening."

Big Freedia
"I’m so excited for Newport Jazz Festival. It's a chance to share a huge part of New Orleans musical history and culture to fans everywhere! We are bringing New Orleans to the fans."

Butcher Brown's Andrew Randazzo
"As an arranger for big bands, Duke Ellington is one of my biggest influences. His album Ellington at Newport was recorded in 1956 at the third ever Newport Jazz Festival, and is a desert island record for me personally. Nearly 70 years later, I’m beyond honored to be playing at the same festival as one of my all-time heroes."

Jupiter Bokondji of Jupiter & Okwess
"It's an honor to participate in a festival like Newport, it's not just another festival, it's one of the first big festivals where people buy tickets knowing that they will discover beautiful music and surprises. For me, it makes sense because the Newport Festival is committed to civil rights, but also from the beginning on the climate and other social issues. My fight has always been injustice, thinking about [what I'm] passing on to future generations. In Newport, we feel in the right places!"

Adi Oasis
"The Newport Jazz Festival was one of my dream festivals to play this year so when I got the call I almost had to pinch myself. The lineup is always so prestigious, and to be amongst these names is such an honor. It’s also more confirmation that my new album is being received well and I’ve been loving playing it live."

Orchestra Gold's guitarist and bandleader Erich Huffaker
"This is the first time we've played at a festival that has this much history. The Newport Festivals have taken a strong stance in addressing social issues such as racial injustice and climate change. So it feels good to align with such an intentional, meaningful, and impactful musical community."

- July 2023

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