Remembering the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals

Sad news this year in September 2021 on the passing of George Wein, the Newport Jazz and Folk Festival promoter. It brought back a memory from a time in 1968 when I met him while played a gig with my band, Albi and The Spellbinders at Leo’s, a local music venue that was located in Newport’s harbor district. He came to listen to Judy Kay, a young and upcoming singer who sang with us with whom he was acquainted back in New York City. George invited me to the backstage area at the festival field where I met Junior Wells and Buddy Guy. I was just about 17 years old at the time and I was playing harmonica. Naturally, I was drawn to Junior Wells who was my favorite harp player. He took me under his wing and gave me some tips and tricks on the harmonica. He told me they would be going to a party after the show and invited me to go with them. Later that night as promised a limo showed up and we all piled in for the ride up on Ocean Avenue where we ended up in one of the mansion houses there. A lot of the performers who played the festival that day were there. I was hanging with Janis Joplin and her guitarist. Taj Mahal was there too! It wasn’t long before Junior jumped up on top of a dinner table, sang and played harmonica for us. What a night! All thanks to George Wein, rest in peace.

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Author: Ed Vallee

What key are we doing this in? Pi R not square. cornbread R square. Pi R round