2016-07-14 / Around Town


Music at The Shops at Long Wharf
By Mark Gorman

While this column typically highlights local musicians who perform in local venues, we occasionally like to feature some of those venues that support live music. This week, we want to tell you a little about The Shops at Long Wharf.

Once referred to by locals as Long Wharf Mall, The Shops at Long Wharf has become a destination for both tourists and native islanders alike. And, from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, you’ll be treated to a free outdoor concert every Saturday – and on Sundays during holiday weekends.

Newport This Week recently sat down with The Shops’ owner Steve Lewinstein to find out how music wound up at his stores.

“Back in 2012, we booked eight Saturday concerts as a test. The stores are all enclosed, so they don’t get lots of exposure. We wanted to find a way to get people to come for 15 minutes to shop and listen,” Lewinstein said.

The test run was a big success, so he decided to grow the music series. “The following year, we expanded to 12 Saturday concerts and it really took off. It has gotten bigger every year. In 2015, we had 18 shows, and this year there are 22 scheduled,” he continued.

Live music at The Shops at Long Wharf is a win-win for everybody, according to Lewinstein. “The shop owners love it and it’s a selling point to attract new tenants. And I’m getting calls from bands from all over New England who want to get on the schedule.”

One of the local bands anchoring this summer’s concert series is Abbey Rhode. AR bassist Ray Davis had nothing but praise for his group’s Long Wharf gigs. “It’s really nice that Steve [Lewinstein] does this. We get to meet so many people who aren’t locals and who’ve never heard our band before. We’re interacting with folks from all over the world. And seeing the little kids dancing to the music of The Beatles is terrific,” Davis said.

The concert series is made possible, in part, by a grant from BankNewport. “BankNewport is our presenting sponsor. Bank president Sandra Pattie has been instrumental in helping us support local music, and we are grateful for that,” Lewinstein commented.

The quality and variety of the music offered at these weekend concerts is impressive. The lineup includes groups who perform Japanese drums, oldies, rock, Aztec music, folk, and the music of The Beatles. There truly is something for everyone.

Be sure to catch some of the free Saturday concerts from 1-5 p.m. at The Shops at Long Wharf in downtown Newport. For a complete schedule, check the many posters hanging around town.

Mark Gorman is a retired high school guidance counselor and guitarist-vocalist who performs locally each week.

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