Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Newport Effect Stars America's Greatest Folk Festival

It premieres tonight at Blumenthal Performing ArtsMcGlohon Theatre in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Then the documentary The Newport Effect is set to charm a larger set of area locals during the Thanksgiving holiday week, showing November 21st and 28th on WTVI PBS. Beyond that, the makers of the movie aren't exactly sure yet, but they hope to bring it in the near future to cities like New Orleans and Los Angeles, where their voice-over narrators live.

And... what would a premiere of a doc about The Newport Folk Festival be without a little music? Playing tonight beforehand and in-between the movie's truncated two halves is the band Carolina Gator Gumbo. The members of the group are also doing a Q&A after the screening.

The origins of the documentary date back to the mid-1990s. As reported by Charlotte Observer culture writer Lawrence Toppman, producers Beverly Penninger and Alyson Young went to the festival in 1996 to see Joan Armatrading. They would become regular return visitors and the following year, this happened:

"We’re sitting with the regulars in 1997, talking about our idea for a film, and a woman tells us, ‘You know whom you need to talk to? That guy right there.’” The guy was Bob Jones, who’d been assisting festival founder George Wein for decades as a producer. A friendship sprang up over the years, with Jones providing backstage passes in 1999. In 2001, he suggested they interview Joyce Wein, who helped her husband organize the first fest in 1959.

The producers and director Murray Lerner were unable to get an interview with the festival's most famous performer, Bob Dylan. But there is footage of the singer in there. Along with a long list of other featured performers and interview subjects.

No date is officially set yet for the film to show in Newport, Rhode Island, but when that happens, it should be a very memorable screening as well.

[The Newport Effect]

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