Newport has seen its share of legendary performers over the years, and some of the most historic events in music history.  When Bob Dylan picked up an electric guitar one day in 1965 a seismic shift took place that was felt the world over.  Newport is known for all genres of music, Rock, Jazz and Blues are still predominant music forms here in the city.   One of our Newport neighbors, James Montgomery, is an American blues legend, and also happens to be one of the greatest harmonica players of all time.  Born in Detroit Michigan, James knew early on he would be spending his life on-stage.  He got his James Montgomery Blues Band started up while in college at Boston University in 1970 and has kept it going for more than 50 years.  Montgomery fell in love with New England after spending time at BU and always wanted to return to the area to live, but was perpetually on the road touring with the Allman Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, and The Blues Brothers among other famous acts.  Love brought James back to the area about 30 years ago, and after a brief time in Jamestown, he eventually made his home in Newport.   He’s never left and loves the diversity and excitement that Newport offers “Nothing like spending time in my courtyard during warm spring days” said James during a recent interview.  “It’s so cool that sometimes I can actually WALK over to the gig, like when we perform at the Jane Pickens…” he continued.

 

As a performer and person, James is incredibly giving of his time, using his talents to help countless individuals and organizations over his long career.  He’s been raising funds for so many causes, one can’t even begin to list them all.  James also has a special interest in veterans issues and has raised money over the years for the American Legion, and Boots on the Ground among others.  More recently he’s been associated with our own great annual Broadway Street Fair.  

 

In fact, over the past year, James has actually designed his Newport events at Jane Pickens to help the 2 groups that are most dear to him right now.  For his annual December show, James donates funds to the Broadway Street Fair and the net donation from December was over $3000.  Around Memorial Day, James sets his mind to helping Veterans.  This year he is donating part of the net proceeds from the event to Operation Stand Down RI which had a local office here on Broadway. 

 

 

1. What motivated you to start helping Veterans?

 

In the early 70’s a Viet Nam Vet came to a show of mine at The Orpheum in Boston and asked if I would be willing to help homeless Veterans from that war.  He took me down Tremont Street the length of The Commons from the theater to Boylston and there were at least a dozen Vets on the sidewalk on that street alone.

 

It was impossible not to be moved.  That’s what started a life-long commitment to Vets and at one point I was awarded a “medal” by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald on the 60 Minutes program.

 

3.  What makes you give so much time to help others? What drives you to help after so many events and so many years – you seem to never stop helping?

 

I’m able to make my living by playing music, one of the things I like best in life, due to the support I’ve gotten over the years by fans and music lovers.  It’s only fitting that I should want to give back to others in society to thank them for enabling me to pursue my career in music. 

 

4. What do you love most about living in Newport?

 

Newport is one of the best “cities” in America.  I had a second home in Manhattan for years and of course lived in Boston for many years also.  Every time I play one of those towns I say “Ya know, maybe I’ll move back to a big city”.  Instantly I think about Newport and say “Nah. I don’t think so”.  It has so much to offer in terms of culture, restaurants, and Natural beauty, not to mention the amazing architectural elements from the Colonial period and the Gilded Age, that make Newport the perfect small city. But it is possibly the strong sense of community and the friendliness of the citizenry that attracts me most to our City By The Sea.

 

The Legendary James Montgomery Band returns to the JPT Event Center with The Uptown Horns on Friday, May 24th at 7:30pm

The organizers of Newport’s beloved Broadway Street Fair are thrilled to once again be partnering with the legendary James Montgomery Band for a very special “Memorial Day Kick Off Party” at the historic Jane Pickens Theater and Event Center.  After an incredible sold-out Holiday Extravaganza at the venue in December, American Blues Legend and longtime Newport resident James Montgomery returns with his exciting All-Star Blues Band to the JPT on Friday May 24th at 7:30PM for another rocking event to kick off Memorial Day Weekend. Joining James for this show are the world-famous Uptown Horns, who have recorded with everyone from James Brown, The B-52’s and Tom Waits to Joan Jett and Iggy Pop, and have toured with the J. Geils Band and The Rolling Stones. More recently, they recorded with Montgomery on his album “From Detroit to the Delta”.  James Montgomery and his band have toured with every major artist on the circuit including The Allman Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Steve Miller and countless other rock and blues bands. Montgomery has been a member of The Blues Brothers, Commander Cody, and spent 6 years with Blues/Rock Legend Johnny Winter. During his stint with Winter, Montgomery earned a Grammy nomination for Johnny’s “Bluesman” CD.

Now in its 55th year, the current line-up for the JMB is as hot as ever, featuring bassist David Hull from The Joe Perry Project (and 4 tours with Aerosmith), drummer Marty Richards (J. Geils Band) and guitarist George McCann (The Blues Brothers). The band is known for their high energy performances, unparalleled musicianship, and Montgomery’s uncanny ability to engage and electrify any crowd. Montgomery is always pushing boundaries and blazing new territory on the harmonica.  During his sold-out show at The JPT in December, James and his star-studded ensemble created a night of musical magic with on-stage camaraderie that thrilled the entire audience. This upcoming show in May with the Uptown Horns promises to exceed expectations and deliver another unforgettable evening of entertainment for all in attendance.  Opening the evening at 7:30 will be regional favorites Dopey Lopes and the Up All Night Bandfollowed by the James Montgomery Band at 8:20.  Dopey Lopes and The Up All Night Band features RI Music Hall of Famer Drummer/Vocalist Stumpy Nation, Peter Breen on Bass Guitar and Vocals, and Sir Rockingham on Lead Guitar.  Their high energy rock and roll stage show has songs from David Bowie, The Neighborhoods, Lou Reed, and Mark Cutler and mixes in some original songs from the Dopey Lopes songbook.

 The JPT is excited to kick off Memorial Day Weekend 2024 with this incredible event.  Net proceeds from this show will benefit Newport’s beloved Broadway Street Fair and Operation Stand Down RI.  As it did in December, this show will sell out, so patrons are encouraged to secure their tickets early. General admission tickets are $40 with a limited offering of VIP Meet & Greet packages for $70.  Ticket purchases and additional information are available online at www.janepickens.com.





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