2015-07-23 / Front Page

BridgeFest Groups to Rock Around the Clock

By James Merolla


BridgeFest's Aaron Abrahamson Cote and Joe Sabourin of My Mother's Moustache at Bowen's Wharf. BridgeFest's Aaron Abrahamson Cote and Joe Sabourin of My Mother's Moustache at Bowen's Wharf. Among the 50-plus musical headliners who will play at this year’s expanded BridgeFest, many have tolled for decades to achieve recognition.

On the flip side, there’s Joe Sabourin, of My Mother’s Moustache, who eight months ago placed a call to Aaron Cote, and asked him how to be a professional musician. “He quit his job and did literally everything I suggested. Now he’s got a music career. That’s the quickest turnaround I’ve ever seen,” Cote told Newport This Week. “It’s how MMM got started.” (If you want to see a passion for music, he suggests checking out Joe’s original material at the Art Fair at Trinity Church on Wednesday, July 29, at 1 p.m.)

BridgeFest is an amalgamation of such colorful musical stories from the community, which makes the event “a lot bigger than me or any other artists on the roster,” said Cote.


Vienna Group Vienna Group A large part of the festival’s appeal is the diversity of musicians and their paths. “BridgeFest represents artists from all walks of life,” Cote says, “some young, some old, some hobbyist musicians, and some professional; some educated by an institution and others through experience, soul, life, and feeling.” Live performance, he adds, “is a portrayal of your experience up to a point in time. You have a single chance to represent the past, present and future in a sonic representation of your mind, body and soul.”

The music and art festival that was started in 2008 as the “bridge” between the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals has evolved into something bigger, bolder, and more brilliant than ever. One of the more impressive aspects of this year’s lineup is that it will feature 14 hours of nonstop music from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. for four days straight. Add the 8 a.m. yoga and music workshops, and it represents 60 hours of entertainment, with something for everyone.


Guitarist Chris Pacileo and vocalist Madeline Roznos met accidentally on Craigslist and Keeping Company was born. Guitarist Chris Pacileo and vocalist Madeline Roznos met accidentally on Craigslist and Keeping Company was born. While most of what is being offered is a tried and true array from previous years, Cote highlights some of the program’s “biggest changes”:

New this year will be the classical music stage at St. Matthew’s Church in Jamestown, including a celebration of the 330th anniversary of J. S. Bach’s birth. Artists will discuss the pieces they choose and the instruments they play, and will introduce each piece so that the audience will know what to listen for.

Year two of the rock stage, moved to Jimmy’s Saloon on Memorial Blvd. This year’s rock stage will feature Motif Magazine’s Music Award nominees and winners.


Vienna Group Vienna Group The Arts and Fine Crafts Fair at Trinity Church returns with a fully scheduled music stage, with soloists and small groups from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. The art fair continues until 7 p.m., while “Celebrating Jazz on Queen Anne Square” will commence at 6 and

Cote said it was hard for him to pinpoint “who rocks the house. “In general,” he said, the musicians get my endorsement or they wouldn’t be playing BridgeFest. I do have a team of booking agents who weigh in at certain venues. Sometimes, it’s simply based on a trusting relationship; I let their input trump mine,” he added.

Cote has some suggestions on artists to watch:

The Viennagram — “I saw them put on a show at the Motif Music Awards, and they had a certain element of theatric mischief that caught my eye.” Unusual Business – “We played with this band in Providence. They love the music and play it well. The energy level in the park that night is going to ignite Newport.”

The Four Agreements — “They sent me a demo, and I couldn’t stop listening to it. Those dudes know music, and are expressing their thoughts in a way that just reached out to me.”

Keeping Company — “They transcend into another universe. They have harmonies that make my eyes water. Their music is mesmerizing, like when all the little Disney creatures listen to Snow White or Cinderella. I wouldn’t doubt that you’ll catch birds singing along when Chris and Maddy hit the stage.”

Matt, from The Troubles — “That kid sings like an angel. I worked with him in The Copacetics, and he’s a rock star at bass. But recently he picked up a guitar and started putting his spin on a lot of cool reggae/ska covers. His voice melts my heart.”

The founding father of Bridge- Fest is looking forward to another year for this gathering of kindred spirits, whether on the stage or seated in front of it. “They all have something to bring,” he said. “I don’t always know what it will be. But it’s why we put a community event together.”

BridgeFest kicks off with its annual Sunset Soiree at Sanford-Covell Villa Marina on Monday, July 27 at 6 p.m. Visit NewportBridgeFest.com for a complete schedule, reservations, tickets and more information.

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