Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals Cancelled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

The nonprofit events have been called off in accordance with Rhode Island state guidance

newport folk jazz festival canceled 2020 coronavirus ben kaye
Newport Folk Festival, photo by Ben Kaye

    For the first time in over a decade, I will not be attending Newport Folk Festival this year — and neither will anyone else. Both Newport Folk and the Newport Jazz Festival have been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Held at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island, the Folk Fest was set for July 31st-August 2nd, with the Jazz Fest following a week later on August 7th-9th.

    Founded respectively in 1954 and 1959, the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals are some of the longest running music events in the world. Run by the non-profit Newport Festivals Foundation, the festivals raise money for music programming across the country. As such, the loss of this year’s events will likely have a deep impact on the community.

    The Newport Festivals Foundation is offering a trio of options for ticket holders. The first is to make a 100% tax deductible donation of all or a portion of the ticket cost directly to the Foundation, which will use the funds to ensure “our festival[s] for 2021 while continuing our support for artists and educators.” Alternatively, the refund can be applied towards a 2021 Revival Membership, a program typically only offered on-site during the festivals. Membership grants fans early, guaranteed access to 2021 festival tickets (which typically sell out almost immediately, before lineups are even revealed), as well as access to special Newport events such as after shows. Remaining memberships will be offered once the refund period ends.


    Finally, ticket holders do have the option to request a 100% refund. The deadline to submit requests for any of the options is Thursday, May 14th 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. More information can be found at the NFF website. You can also donate to the Foundation here.

    Jay Sweet, executive producer of both Newport Folk and Newport Jazz, said in a statement that they’ve “invited ALL the announced artists to join us next year.” He added,

    “As devastating as it is to write those words, it’s balanced with a renewed sense of, well, HOPE. It’s Rhode Island’s motto for good reason and it’s also the feeling you, our festival family, constantly exudes when we come together in good times and perhaps more importantly, in difficult times as well. This community is truly unlike any other in music, and I believe we can emerge from this hardship stronger and more connected than ever before.”

    Newport Folk’s 2020 festival was scheduled to feature appearances by The National, Nathaniel Rateliff, Mandy Moore (with Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith and producer Mike Viola), Brittany Howard, Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien (EOB), Randy Newman, Muzz (Paul Banks, Josh Kaufman, and Matt Barric), Andrew Bird, Big Thief, Waxahatchee, Phoebe Bridgers, Sylvan Esso, Deer Tick, Delta Spirit, Grace Potter, Joseph, and Son Volt playing Trace.


    Newport Jazz, meanwhile, had booked Norah Jones, Jimmy Cliff, Wynton Marsalis, Khruangbin, Angélique Kidjo’s Remain in Light, A Christian McBride Situation, Hiromi, The Soul Rebels, Diana Krall, and “Artist in Residence” Robert Glasper.

    In March, the Newport Festivals Foundation launched its Musicians Relief Fund to support artists affected by the coronavirus crisis via grants.

    Sweet was a guest on the final episode of the Consequence Podcast Network series The Opus: Bridge Over Troubled Water. Revisit that episode below.

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