Monday-Friday
6A        Morning Edition
9A        Music
3P        Fresh Air
4P        All Things Considered
6:30P  The Daily

7P        Eclectic After Dark
banner101 3

According to a statement from his family, Wein died peacefully in his sleep early Monday morning.

Wein co-founded the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and the Newport Folk Festival in 1959. Newport was the first and largest event of its kind in the U.S., setting the standard for outdoor music festivals to come.

Jazz Night in AmericaYouTube

Wein, who was also a musician himself, lived a life most jazz fans dream about. He knew the giants and innovators by their first names. At the very first Newport Jazz Festival, Wein arranged a reunion between saxophonist Lester Young and singer Billie Holiday. The two former collaborators hadn't spoken for years. He told a private Newport audience in 2003 that Young hesitated in the wings.

"This is one of the most poignant memories of my life," Wein said. "'Cause there was this magnificent saxophonist — one of the great figures in the history of the music — standing there and wasn't going on the stage. Billie sang about three choruses of the first song, and the next thing you know, he says, 'I guess I'll have to go up and help the Lady out."

Their reunion wasn't recorded, but the festival next year was. Wein booked Miles Davis to play at a time when the trumpeter was on the ropes.

YouTube

The performance jump started Davis' career. But NPR contributor and former New York Times jazz critic Nate Chinen, the director of editorial content for Member station WBGO, says that Wein's goal was much bigger than lending a hand to individual artists.

"I know that he was especially passionate early on about winning a kind of respect for jazz in sort of mainstream culture," says Chinen, who also co-wrote Wein's memoir, Myself Among Others.

Chinen says Wein was proud of having a hand in making jazz the accepted American art form it is now. But Wein's relationship to the artists was just as important.

"He understood the musician mindset," Chinen observes, "and he really really cared about how musicians were doing. He wanted to support them as promoter and producer and also just as a friend to the music."

He was a musician, a child prodigy. And in his teens, he played jazz piano professionally around Boston. As an adult, he managed Storyville, one of the city's clubs, and took notice of the folk music revival embraced by Boston college students in the 1950s.

He booked the likes of Odetta and guitarist Josh White into his club. And the reception they got convinced him to launch a folk festival.

"Well, as I remember it, it was pretty big deal for me," says Joan Baez. At that time, Baez had a steady coffee shop presence around Harvard Square. But she says Newport was something else.

"I don't think there had been a place where there was one tent full of say, Shaker white singers, and the next tent full of black blind blues singers from Mississippi, you know? And they began that they were all taking for granted that they were all making music."

And Newport made history. In 1963, Baez introduced a young Bob Dylan to his largest national audience at the time. And just two years later, Dylan broke with folk purists and went electric — at Newport.

YouTube

Newport's popularity led Wein to start a production company. He took his approach to New Orleans, where he boosted the city's Jazz and Heritage Festival, and eventually exported his concept around the world.

In 2007, Wein sold his company, and tried to enjoy semi-retirement. But two years later, the festivals he founded had gone bankrupt, and at age 82, Wein set up a non-profit foundation to the protect Newport's future, as he told NPR in 2011.

"The only chance we have of keeping the festival alive after I'm gone," he said, "is to have a foundation and people that want to keep to it alive."

Speaking on the occasion of Newport's 50th anniversary in 2004, George Wein told the public radio show American Routes there was a very basic reason for his success: "My real talent was making things happen."

And he did — for more than half a century — for fans and musicians alike.

  • SoCo Calendar
  • Talk To Me
  • Hiding Places
  • Birdwatch
  • Stickers!
  • KRCB-Me
  • Living Downstream
 
Be on KRCB 104.9...answer this month's "Talk to Me" question: With fire season upon us, are you having second thoughts about Sonoma County?
 
You can do a recording right from your computer or smartphone, but please use an external microphone (ear buds are good enough). Don't worry, you can try as many times you like until you get a "good take." We won’t hear any of the bad ones. After you finish, the page will give you a chance to listen and decide if you like it. Once you get a good one, you'll be asked for your name and email address. Then hit "Send.” (Click "reset" if you would rather try again.)
 
Go to the recorder page
 
Each week, Santa Rosa-based travel writer Dana Rebmann introduces us to great local spots to visit. Listen on-air for the latest. Or click here:
 
Crane Creek Regional Park
Marijke's Sculpture Grove
Read More

Listen to the Sonoma County Birdwatch!

fullerThroughout the week, we play short segments about what birds are out in Sonoma County and what they sound like, from Harry Fuller. Here's what we've aired so far. Harry spent his working career as a TV and Internet newsman in the Bay Area.  He’s been leading bird trips and writing about birds for thirty years.  He has written three natural history books: Freeway Birding, I-5 San Francisco to Seattle; San Francisco’s Natural History, Sand Dunes to Streetcars; Great Gray Owl in California, Oregon & Washington. He blogs regularly about birds: atowhee.blog.  And he frequently leads birding trips on the Pacific Coast. Check him out at http://www.towhee.net/.

window stickerGet Your Free KRCB 104.9 Window Sticker
 
Get yours today at these friends of KRCB:
 
-Stanroy Music, Santa Rosa
-The Next Record Store, Santa Rosa
-All 10 SoCo Mary's Pizzas
-Acre Coffee (SR, Petaluma, Sebastopol)
-Wolf House Brewing, Cloverdale
 
They might look like bumper stickers, but they're meant to stick to the inside surface of glass.

We've got a new thing: text KRCB to (707) 606-0911. Or just add your cell number below. We'll text you back when we have something special on the radio--so you can listen live or with a link to listen later. No spam! Not more than once a week or so. Try KRCB-Me.

Our podcast "Living Downstream" has been named by the Global Center for Climate Justice as one of "Five Climate Justice Podcasts You Need to Follow." Wow: https://bit.ly/2Xkbs0D

Listen to some recent episodes! Generations in Houston's Fifth Ward Contend with Contamination, Cancer Clusters will break your heart, and perhaps solidify your resolve to make change. The Sea Next Door is told in true partnership with the community living near California's Salton Sea, an environmental powder keg, where the state has no idea how to avoid a coming health disaster.

Get them here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.