Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rhode Island road trip: Newport & Blackstone River

The Blackstone River Theatre is a small place, far up in the north of Rhode Island, which specializes in presenting Irish and Scottish music. The Newport Folk Festival is a major acoustic music festival in the coastal town of Newport. It’ll be celebrating its fifty first season this summer.

Though it is small in area, Rhode Island has a flourishing music scene in styles from folk to Irish to Americana to classical to rock, in larger places like Providence and Newport to smaller towns like Cumberland, where The Blackstone River Theatre is located.

The Blackstone River Theatre just celebrated its ninth year of presenting music related to the ethnic groups who settled the Blackstone River Valley, including music of the peoples of Ireland, Scotland, and Africa. They’ve received recognition from state and federal governments for their work, and many of the artists you’ve met along the music road have played there, including Long Time Courting, Hanneke Cassel, Natalie Haas, Cathie Ryan, and Archie Fisher.

From its first season in 1959 when a teenaged Joan Baez appeared up to present day appearances by top folk artists including Rani Arbo and Caroline Herring, the Newport Folk Festival has been a force in acoustic music. During the folk revival of the 1960s. Vanguard recorded artists in classic live settings at Newport. Here are three of my favorites of these vintage recordings

Joan Baez: Live at Newport

Judy Collins: Live at Newport, 1959-1966

Ian & Sylvia: Live at Newport

What festivals and venues have you explored in your hometown, or on your travels? I’d be interested to know your favorites.

you may also wish to see

Music Road: Road Trip Music visits Connecticut

Music Road: now playing: Hanneke Cassel (video)

Music Road: Lovers' Well: Matt & Shannon Heaton
note: The Heatons will be playing at Blackstone River later in March, sharing the evening with Kimberley Fraser and Troy MacGillivray

This is part of The Great American Road Trip, in which I’m partnering up with A Traveler’s Library to add musical ideas to the book and film suggestions for journeys through the regions of the United States which you’ll find there. This week, the featured book offers a fine way to share what's unique about Rhode Island with the children in your life.

For more about the Great American Road Trip project (and a look at some great road songs) see Great American Road Trip: Music begins

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Blogger Alexandra Grabbe said...

I had never heard of the Blackstone River Theater and will tell music-loving friends who live in Providence.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Anjuli said...

The Blackstone River Theater sounds wonderful. I love live music venues- and festivals which allow for musical talent to be heard.

9:06 PM  

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