It was a picture-perfect summer day Friday at Fort Adams State Park, where “Newport Jazz Presents,” the 2021 version of the Newport Jazz Festival, kicked off in style. The Festival was downsized this year due to the pandemic – approximately half the usual number of tickets were sold and music was heard on only two stages instead of the usual four.

That didn’t dampen the spirit of the Festival. It was clear to artists and fans that the 2021 event was something special. In fact, several performers mentioned it was their first live gig since the pandemic. The sell-out crowd, with fans spanning several generations, was equally thrilled to be there.

Avery*Sunshine opened the Quad Stage with an upbeat set of tunes, including her hit “I Got Sunshine.” As always, there was a variety of music at the Festival from the more traditional jazz of artists like the Robert Glasper Acoustic Trio to the Latin influenced beat of Arturo O”Farrill. Artistic Director Christian McBride was there, leading his band A Christian McBride Situation through a set that included some beats and more from DJ Logic.

R&B sensation Yola returned to the Fort with an inspiring set, less than a week after playing the Folk Festival. And sax great Kamasi Washington was triumphant in his return to the Newport, leading his nine-piece band through a rousing set of music. The hard-to-categorize (Thai Funk?) band Khruangbin blew away those in attendance, even returning to the stage for a late-day encore. No doubt, this was one of the best line-ups in years. Kudos NJF!

Our photographer Rick Farrell, fresh off the injured reserve list, was there to document the occasion. Check out his photos below.

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Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.

Rick Farrell

​Rick Farrell of Mojo Photography has been drawn to music his entire life. Maybe it was growing up in Newport, RI, host to the venerable Newport Jazz and Folk festivals. Or maybe it was the countless hours listening to his older siblings' classic LP's and 45's on the stereo in the 1960's. Whatever the reason, there has always been a strong connection.

He had originally taken up photography as a hobby, eventually gravitating towards shooting professionally in 2007. Never knowing what his true passion or niche was, proved to be very frustrating to say the least. Then in 2009 he shot a concert, and everything seemed to click. He had discovered his passion! Concert photography!

He considers himself fortunate to have photographed shows at some of the premier venues in New England, including Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium. He has literally photographed hundreds of shows, including some of the biggest acts in today’s music industry. He has photographed many esteemed festivals including the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Newport Folk Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, and Farm Aid. His work has been published in numerous outlets locally, regionally, and nationally.

Musically, he loves everything from rock to country, jazz, R&B, pop, and classical. There is no greater feeling for him than capturing a moment on stage for others to enjoy for posterity. Whatever your taste, his goal is to provide "music for your eyes."