It’s festival season! Are you ready for the deafening, sweaty crush that is Lollapalooza? Perhaps next year. This month we present you with two opportunities to be transported by live music, both in beautiful, chaos-free settings: Salzburg, Austria, and Newport, Rhode Island. You can almost flip a coin. Both are repositories of musical history, epicenters of musical innovation, and hosts to well-organized festivals famous for landmark performances. And the settings couldn’t be more picturesque: Newport, a Colonial gem, may soon join Salzburg as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, Rhode Island
The Newport Jazz Festival’s 1954 beginnings were auspicious. The program was short, but populated by the likes of Billie Holiday, Dizzie Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, and Ella Fitzgerald. This year’s lineup boasts more than 50 acts, including Cassandra Wilson, Dr. John, Bill Frisell, and John Hollenbeck. The atmosphere is vibrant, relaxed and friendly, and the attendees never seem frazzled. Probably because at this music festival one can do the unthinkable: Stroll to a breezy spot on the small peninsula, pick a patch of grass, and stretch out on a picnic blanket with a glass of wine. You’re guaranteed an unobstructed view of the stage, and a harbor dotted with sailboats behind. When the music is over you can turn your eye to Newport itself. This small corner of pre-revolutionary New England has been well-tended over the centuries. Snug and trim clapboard houses are painted cheerful colors, there are lighthouses and shop-lined wharves, and the church steeples look freshly scrubbed. A three-day festival pass is $170; visit newportjazzfest.org for more information.