When you hear the name Tom Perrotti you probably often think about the great work he does with Common Fence Music, you should also think or know of him as a great musician, interesting man and an asset to our community.

We caught up with the man that we’ve been a fan of for many years to chat about music, Newport and much more before his gig with The Golden Bantams during the upcoming Newport BridgeFest.

What’sUpNewp’s 2016 Newport BridgeFest Coverage is brought to you by Midtown Oyster Bar
What’sUpNewp’s 2016 Newport BridgeFest Coverage is brought to you by Midtown Oyster Bar

RB: What got you into music?

TP: “The Newport Kiwanis Club had the concession to sell the burgers and beer from the first days of the early Jazz and Folk Festivals. My grandfather and father were Kiwanians. We grew up at Freebody Park and Festival Field. My sister Jeanne was in the Rogers High School Orchestra and performed in the yearly musical – at the time a big event in Newport.”

RB: What was your first cd, record or album?

TP: “I remember having an early album by Herbie Mann. It could have been mine or one borrrowed, and never returned, to my sister.”

RB: What was the first concert that you went to?

TP: “Jazz Festival  at Freebody Park, 1957. Could have been earlier but I don’t remember.”

RB: What performance/concert has most inspired you in your life?

TP: “I met Neil Young at Toad’s Place in New Haven in the Fall of 1968.”

RB: How long have you been performing?

TP: “I was the sheep’s bleet in the St. Joseph’s Christmas pageant in 4th grade.”

RB:. What musician or band (yes you can pick any) would you love to see perform in Newport?

TP: “Caetano Veloso or Paulo Conti but I’ll settle for the an appearance by Neil Young”

RB: Favorite thing about being a musician in Newport?

TP: “The busking. Hah!”

RB: Describe the arts, live music and cultural scene in Newport?

“Looking over the big picture of the last 50 years or so, I’d say conflicted. There is a great energy that has emerged in the last number of years with many new Newporters contributing to the mix. Groups offering social outings featuring the arts have also had a great influence on the community. Newport Film is fabulous. City supported events at First Beach in the summer are great for building community. NIMFEST on summer Sunday afternoons. And I love the Newport String Project offerings of violin lessons, string quartet concerts and barndances with Common Fence Music. Newport could learn from other towns that do more with public funding to support the arts but things are changing.”

RB: Tell me about the one performance in Newport that you’ll never forget, why was it so special?

TP: “Too many to choose from. As a Kiwanis Club volunteer I was on the field in the afternoon of July 25, 1965 for Dylan’s rehearsal of Like a Rolling Stone. What a thrill!”

RB: Why did you pick the instrument (s) that you play?

TP: “Folk music got me into the guitar. I picked up the mandolin to play Celtic and Old Time tunes”

RB: Who is the greatest musical influence in your life?

TP: “I can’t answer that but I am the self-proclaimed president of the local Brian Eno fan club.”

RB: Who is your favorite local musician to watch/listen to in Newport?

TP: “Mike Warner has been doing a bang up job of dragging his drum set around town for centuries.”

RB: Finish this sentence, the local musician to keep you eye on is ___….

TP: “Chris Vallaincourt is a great player with an interest in teaching and community engagement”

RB: Who has had the greatest musical impact in history of Newport?

TP: “Elaine Lorillard, George Wein and the post war New York to Philly Jazz scene.”

RB: Your favorite or what you think is the best band/artist to make it from Newport?

TP: “The Cowsills and Throwing Muses”

Catch Tom Perrotti and The Golden Bantams during Newport BridgeFest here;

2:00 – 6:00 pm | FREE
at Aquidneck Growers Market outdoors on Memorial Boulevard, Newport
Enjoy a lively folk fiddle duo while exploring the farmers market
(401) 932-9007

Newport Festivals Foundation will continue the tradition of Newport BridgeFest in 2016, over the four days the festival will aim to celebrate folk, jazz, and the musical heritage of Newport.

Newport BridgeFest was founded in 2009 by the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County to “bridge” the days between the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals. Earlier this year, the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County transferred the rights to the event to the Newport Festival Foundation.

Bridgefest 2016 will take place in and around Newport from July 25th to July 28th, and will include free and paid concerts, music related films, educational programs and other music related activities.  In addition, Newport Festivals Foundation, Inc, will produce a free family concert at Fort Adams on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. For more information, visit www.newportbridgefest.com.

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp, LLC. Belmore has led What's Up Newp since December 2012. Belmore also serves as the Sr. Editor - North America for Mountain News - publisher of OnTheSnow. In his spare time, Belmore serves as the Vice President for the Board of Directors at Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors at Lucy's Hearth. Belmore is also a member and supporter of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.