Bridging the Gap with BridgeFest

Whether you align with the folk camp or the jazz camp, any music fan can agree that Newport is the place to be at the end of July, with Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival creating a rich, cultural atmosphere. Many make the pilgrimage to this sacred holy land of music, though the week off between the two festivals may make some feel left as high and dry as Thom Yorke of Radiohead.

Luckily, the Newport Festivals Foundation is bringing back the week-long block party that is BridgeFest. Set to take over Newport from Monday, July 31 to Thursday, August 3, BridgeFest will celebrate local art and cuisine. And, of course, music.

In 2016, the Newport Festivals Foundation took over the ownership of BridgeFest from the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County in hopes of establishing the four-day extravaganza as its own full-fledged entity.


In an interview with Motif last year, Jill Davidson, festival director of the Newport Festivals Foundation, said, “The Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival have contributed to Newport’s narrative as an ultimate summer destination throughout the years, and BridgeFest aims to do the same by keeping the festival spirit and excitement going strong during the week between the festivals.”

Returning this year is BridgeFest’s signature Busking @ Bowen’s, which features local music on the Bowen’s Wharf nightly. RI steel drummers Panoramic View will kick off the festivities on the Wharf on Monday night, with appearances throughout the week from jazz duo Impromp2, folk rockers Bubble Visor and rising guitarist Thatcher Harrison.

Can’t get enough music? Wednesday is your slice of heaven with four different venues hosting a hodgepodge of live performances. Aside from Bubble Visor at the Wharf, Judy Hestnes is hosting a musical afternoon at the Aquidneck Grower’s Market while Jo’s American Bistro is hosting an exquisite evening of jazz with Joanne Rodino, John Monllos and more jazz musicians. The best part? All three shows are free.

Looking for more of a festival vibe? BridgeFest is hosting a festival within itself on Thursday called the Live Local Music & Arts Festival at the Great Friends Meeting House. Headlined by Camden Murphy, this festival will showcase local artists, music and food trucks. Be on the lookout for some Motif Food Truck Award winners while you groove to the music.

If music isn’t your thing, The Artful Lodger Inn is hosting a mother of all garden parties on Tuesday with provided refreshments. Attendees are invited to bring their favorite boozy drinks. Wake up Wednesday and head over to the Newport Art Museum for a gallery show of jazz photos featuring a discussion with none other than the executive director (and hero) of the Newport Festivals Foundation, Jay Sweet.

And don’t forget the Newport Jazz extra, “A Bridge Together.” Starting at 6:30pm at Fort Adams State Park, this cultural activity will feature a celebration of music and dance from the American jazz movement to Indian carnatic music, as well as the beats of Africa. The two-part event will feature 17-year old twins, Riya and Sara Kapoor, as they explore the evolution of music and dance from the earliest incarnations of rhythm to the swinging jazz pieces of today.

Whether you’re staying in town for the week, or simply looking to liven up your weekday, BridgeFest has you covered.

To view the full BridgeFest schedule, visit