Saturday, July 26, 2014
When George Wein asked me to come aboard I immediately compiled my list of every artist that for some reason or another has not played Newport Folk but should. It’s always a pleasure to cross off a name, especially as there are so few left on the original list. In fact the elusive handful remaining have become known around the office as the “White Whales”.
During that same first meeting, George also asked me what we could do to help bring the blues back to Newport in a meaningful and explosive way, something that would tie Newport’s history with Bukka White, Mississippi John Hurt, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Skip James and of course Son House to the present. I circled a name atop the list and answered, “Jack White”.
It was an easy answer as I had just seen the great film “It Might Get Loud” in which Mr. White sits alone listening to a Son House record.
Listening to the haunting “Grinnin’ In Your Face”, Mr. White muses, “By the time I was about 18 somebody played me Son House, that was it for me. This spoke to me in 1,000 different ways. I didn’t know that you could do that just singing and clapping and it meant everything, it meant everything about rock and roll, everything about expression, creativity and art. One man against the world, and one song. That’s my favorite song, still is too. I heard everything disappearing, it didn’t matter that he was clapping off time, it didn’t matter that there was no instruments being played, all that mattered was the attitude of the song.”
I knew right then he was the answer and he had to come to Newport Folk.
It’s only taken six years, but it is my distinct pleasure to cross another “White Whale” off our list. In 1967 at Newport, Son House brought his version of the B-L-U-S-E; now 47 years later, we can’t wait to bring some explosive blues back to the festival. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Jack White.
– Jay Sweet
Producer, Newport Folk Festival