THE NEXT CHAPTER: THE NEWPORT BLUES PROJECT
Summer 2022 was a season of many transitions, and one of the biggest was the launch of our new musical venture, The Newport Blues Project. The Project is a spinoff of The Newports, started by Bill, Jumpin' Gene Halton, and Jeff. Summer 2023 you'll find us, with special guest artists, popping up at venues in the area, performing roots blues along with some originals. Bill and Jeff, who are in Tucson from late fall through April, will be starting a version of the band to perform out there as well.
THE NEWPORT BLUES PROJECT SEEKS AN INSTRUMENTALIST/VOCALIST AND A PERCUSSIONIST FOR THE TUCSON VERSION OF THE BAND.
The High Desert branch of the Newport Blues Project is moving right along. Jeff and Bill have taken on Tom Albanese, a terrific blues harmonica player and vocalist as a bandmate. The three of us have been working this spring on developing up a playlist, and it's coming together nicely. Bill and Jeff are about head back to the Chicago area, but we're now ready to bring on a percussionist and either a keyboard player or guitarist to perform with us when we get up and running next October. We're looking for at least one of the two new members to share lead vocal duties with Tom.
The Newports Blues Project is a roots-blues ensemble aiming to perform seasonally in Tucson in smaller, more intimate venues around town. We're seeking performers with a passion for roots blues and with an instrumental approach that keep a blues groove going with a softer touch appropriate for small venues.
Music by blues artists who have inspired us can be found at this Spotify play list. Captured live last summer in Michigan are recordings of us performing blues classics “Bring it on Home,” “Rock Me Baby,” and “Catfish Blues.” Music from our nine-piece blues/rock/soul band, including a number blues classics, can be found at the music and videos tabs here, with much more at The Newports YouTube channel.
We welcome inquiries from musicians interested in possibly joining The Newport Blues Project. The band is indeed an ongoing “project,” with a musical direction that will evolve, based on the musical interests, tastes, and talents of its members and the reactions of the audiences with whom we engage. We anticipate members of the Michigan version of the band sitting in with us occasionally, as well as other blues artists from the Tucson area. In our 9-piece band The Newports, most of the members were also performing regularly with other bands. We are open to doing the same with musicians who join the Tucson version of The Newport Blues Project.
Interested musicians can contact Bill Bielby via email at NPTBLU@gmail.com.
THE NEWPORTS LAST DANCE
The Newports' show at The Acorn on June 24, 2022 was indeed our Last Dance as a full-blown, horn-based, blues rock soul ensemble. It's was a decision we made in joy, not sadness, and with the upmost respect and love for one another and for all of you who have been with us on our musical journey. Some of you have followed us since our debut at Roosevelt Junior High, and others since we reconvened the band on The Acorn stage eight years ago. While "The Last Dance" was our last live performance as a group, we will continue to distribute our music through our Cherry Ridge Records label. Three singles drop and album dropped in May and June. More singles and another album will be released in the fall and our fourth album comes out in 2023.
The nine of us continue to make music. Mark, Terry, and Gene Nourie perform regularly with Scamp, and Mark has returned to The Nick Danger Band and other ensembles in the region too numerous to mention. Terry has the Calumet Band, Saxophones, and other musical projects. Jumpin' Gene, Jeff, and Bill will be introducing The Newport Blues Project at Three Oaks Music in the Park on Labor Day Weekend. Ralph continues with his awesome horn-based KGB Band, while Eddie and Darryl are emersed in the south suburban jazz scene. Music is our lives, and our lives are music. This always has been, and it always will be. We are fortunate to have been able to share with you, and we will continue to do so, in many ways. Our love to all of you. The Newports.
Audio, videos, and photos from the Last Dance performance will be posted here later this summer, and a documentary film is in the works for release in 2023. Our best to you all...
THE NEWPORTS STORY
The Newports' roots are in Chicago's industrial south suburbs, and their playlist of soul, rock and blues has that distinctive Chicago vibe. The band's sound features a tight, soulful four-piece horn section under the direction of Sonny Lee Tritt, the harmonica magic of Jumpin' Gene Halton, R&B keyboard and vocal stylings of Eddie Beard, and the high-energy guitar and vocals of wild man Mark Rongers. The band performed in the greater Chicago area, northwest Indiana, and southwest Michigan since reconvening in the summer of 2014, through the summer of 2022. From community festivals to roadhouse bars to corporate gigs to their high-energy stage show, they delivered a memorable performance of blues, rock, and soul music.
The Newports' debut album, The Newports Live! At the Acorn, was released in July 2019 on Cherry Ridge Records. Recorded at The Acorn Theater in Three Oaks Michigan last November, the ten tracks on the album range from reggae (Bob Marley’s “Is This Love”) to soul (“Low Rider,” “Knock on Wood”), to Hendrix (“All Along the Watchtower”) to blues (Gary Clark Jr.'s "When My Train Pulls In"). The album is available at all major online music services, as is our follow-up album, Let's Dance Again, and all of our singles.
The Newports are: Mark Rongers (vocal, lead guitar), Terry "Sonny Lee" Tritt (tenor sax and musical director), Ralph Whipple (trumpet), Darryl Neil X (baritone sax), Jeff Sachs (trombone, guitar), Ed Beard (keyboards, vocals), Gene Nourie (drums), Jumpin' Gene Halton (harmonica), and Bill Bielby (bass and business manager). The horn guys -- Terry, Darryl, Ralph, and Jeff -- along with Eddie on keyboards got their musical start with the Thorntoneers jazz ensemble at Thornton Township High School in Harvey Illinois. Terry and Bill are from our original lineup. Bryan Salvage, our original vocalist/guitarist, joined tem from time to time.
Listen to Bill talk about The Newports' early days and musical journey when interviewed by Jonny LaSalle on his WRHC Radio Harbor Country show Jonny's Secret Stash.
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