From start to finish, the 65th edition of the Newport Jazz Festival put the spotlight on young, new, up-and-coming, and Rhode Island musicians.

Musicians of all ages and from all across Rhode Island got the opportunity to shine this weekend, and took full advantage of it.

With a 2011 Newport Folk Festival appearance with Emmylou Harris already under his belt, Barrington native Phil Madeira crossed Newport Jazz Festival off of his list when he brought his trio to the Storyville stage on Sunday morning. The full house was enthusiastic and enjoyed his passionate performance.

Photo by Rick Farrell for What’sUpNewp and What’sUpRhodeIsland

“It was great to host so many bands with Rhode Island connections this  year. Barrington native Phil Madeira, who has written songs that have been recorded by Garth Brooks, Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krause, Keb Mo’, Bruce Hornsby and many others, made his festival debut this year,” Deborah Ross, Director of Education for Newport Festivals Foundation told What’sUpNewp.

The URI Jazz Big Band got things rolling on Saturday morning on the Harbor Stage.

Photo by Rick Farrell for What’sUpNewp and What’sUpRhodeIsland

Under the direction of Joe Parillo and Emmett Goods, the band included the following student musicians;

  • Erin McGowan, vocals
  • Jacob Brunelle, alto saxophone
  • Samantha Terlaga, alto saxophone
  • Fernando Marzan, tenor saxophone
  • Tyler Tashdjian, tenor saxophone
  • Timothy Hecker, baritone saxophone
  • Michael Robinson, trumpet
  • Benjamin Allendorf, trumpet
  • Robin Hall, trumpet
  • Jason Taylor, trumpet
  • Ryan Sullivan, trombone
  • Nicholas Casey, trombone
  • Alyssa Oates, trombone
  • Victoria Sutherland, trombone
  • James Himmelmann, piano
  • Ryan Tremblay, guitar
  • Jeremy Klepacki, bass
  • Remy Besson, drums
  • Thomas Oldfield, drums

“The URI Big Band has kicked off the festival for a number of years, and at some point in their concert, you know people will be up dancing and swinging to the music,” Ross said.

On Sunday, local students once again kicked off the day on the Harbor State as the Rhode Island Music Education Association Sr. All-State Jazz Band.

Photo by Rick Farrell for What’sUpNewp and What’sUpRhodeIsland

Under the direction of Douglas Olson, the band included;

  • ALTO SAXOPHONE: Michael Ethier, Medeski Dow
  • TENOR SAXOPHONE:, Eric Fornaro, Danny Elomaa
  • TRUMPET: Luca Simeone, Dante Lopes, Patrick Shenefield, Sam DeLong, Emily Redmond
  • TROMBONE: Stephen Landry, David Canavan, Aidan O’Neill, Lauren Boss
  • PIANO: Daniel Ventura
  • BASS: Ian Banno
  • GUITAR: Max Riley
  • DRUMS: Sam McCarthy, Zachary Malian

“With musicians from high schools all across the state, the RI Music Education Association (RIMEA) Senior All-State Jazz Band returned and delivered a fantastic set. It’s a pleasure to see so many talented students showcasing their craft, and we hope to one day see some of them headline their own sets on a Newport Jazz stage,” Ross concluded.

Zachary Malian, a drummer for the RIMEA Senior All-State Jazz Band, was at the festival as a musician and as a reporter, covering the event for his high school newspaper.

A big moment came for Eric Wurzelbacher this weekend as well. For years his family has been responsible for constructing the stages at the Newport Jazz Festival (and other festivals). When Jay Sweet, Executive Producer of Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival, introduced the Eric Wurzelbacher Quartet on Sunday on the Storyville stage he shared that Eric has provided free entertainment to the crowds lining up at the gates for both the Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival over the last few years and was very deserving of this spot in the lineup.

Another Rhode Island tie included when Natixis Investment Managers (Natixis), presenting sponsor of the Newport Jazz Festival, announced on Saturday that Luca Simeone, a Kingstown High School Graduated, was among two students that had been awarded the 2019 George Wein Jazz Ambassador Scholarship, a $5,000 scholarship.

Also proudly representing Rhode Island at the 2019 Newport Jazz Festival were Dell’s Lemonade, Binge BBQ, Rhode Island Reef, and Matunuck Oyster Bar.

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.