Saturday, March 28, 2009

George Wein-Festival Network saga continues

As impresario George Wein and his team continue preparing for two festivals under his own name in Newport this summer because of the anticipated demise of Festival Network LLC, the venture that bought out his Festival Productions Inc. operation two years ago and ran things into the ground quite quickly in 2008.

With FN out of the picture, at least as far as the State of Rhode Island is concerned, Wein is preparing for his own events, being called "George Wein's Folk Festival 50" and "George Wein's Jazz Festival 55," since FN bought the rights to the names of his venerable Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival.

While Festival Network hasn’t officially folded it’s tent, the calendar is working against any serious effort for it to produce festivals this year - anywhere.

Wein has made it clear that his focus is Newport, in order to preserve the birthplace of his festival legacy in July 1954. He has said he won’t put on a similar jazz festival in New York this June, telling the New York Times' Ben Sisario this week: “I’m not necessary in New York. New York’s a jazz festival all year long.” Nor has JVC indicated it will sponsor festivals anywhere. Apparently the Japanese economy is as just as bad as ours.

However, Wein is producing two Diana Krall concerts at Carnegie Hall on June 23 and 24 - and according to a news release from his office this week, he will produce a series of additional concerts in New York in June. Publicist Carolyn McClair said New York and Newport artists will be announced in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Festival Network CEO Chris Shields, likely the company’s only remaining “employee,” continues to issue statements thanking Wein for laying the ground for his outfit’s return to Newport. That’s not likely.

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