Newport Jazz Festival 2005photos by Philip Greenspun
Wynton Marsalis wins the Best Dressed Award for being the only person at the festival, musician or otherwise, wearing a suit and tie. Brad Mehldau was probably the most surprising musician at the festival. He plays cerebral intricate piano and generally gives the impression that he'd rather be somewhere else. He might become the Glenn Gould of the jazz piano world! Eartha Kitt was the most inspiring performer (evening performance; I didn't bring my camera). She is 78 years old and dances with remarkable grace and energy in a dress slit up to the hip.
Driving down from Boston can take 3 hours on a Friday afternoon with heavy traffic on I-93 and also for the last five miles into Newport. Newport has a nice little airport (KUUU) with a 3000' runway, a slightly shorter crosswind runway, and a localizer approach that will get you down to within 528' of the runway. Thus in theory the festival would make a fine day trip for the small airplane pilot and friends. Newport is subject to a lot of summer haze and fog, however, so you might need to be prepared to go into Quonset State (KOQU; 7500' runway with ILS) or Providence (KPVD; I have had bad luck with Northstar, the FBO there).
If you want to take photos you want to get a ticket in "Reserved Road D". This is four rows back from the stage and almost in the center. Any of the rows A through D is probably okay but it is better to be a little farther back so that you aren't looking up at quite as severe an angle and so that the press photographers don't block your view of the artists. Most of the photos on this page were taken with a Canon 70-200/2.8L image-stablized zoom lens on a cheap Canon digital single-lens reflex camera (20D) with a small sensor that results in an effective magnification at the longest length of a 300mm lens on a standard 35mm film camera. A handful of the Wynton Marsalis photos were taken with a 1.4X teleconverter attached to the 70-200.
If you don't mind somewhat reduced sound quality, a bit of seasickness, and a distant view of the artists you can listen to the main stage acts from a boat rafting offshore (see photo at right).
If you have cash or an ATM card, for that matter, you don't have to bring anything to the festival. There are vendors selling sunscreen, T-shirts, hats, crafts, food, (non-alcoholic) drinks. If you want to get rich rent a booth and sell big buckets of ice for folks to stick their feet into.
You can bring children to the festival and you can smoke cigarettes but
you can't bring dogs. For a dog-friendly music festival try the
Appalachia String Band Music Festival in early August in Clifftop, West