We sat down with Jay Sweet, the curator/producer of the wildly popular Newport Folk Festival as well as Paste Magazine’s Editor-At-Large. A man of many hats, a storied career in music, Jay is the father of two boys.
Tell us about your kids, what’s it like being a father?
Being a father is constant reminder that you can gain equally as much wisdom from a child as you can impart. I have two boys 10 & 7 and while it feels like my wife and I are running a boarding house for a pair of bear cubs, at least they make me get off my ass and engage the real world instead of living in front of a glowing screen.
Talk to us about your parenting style.
We are fairly hands off in many ways, such as opening the back door and encouraging them to roam free until sundown and letting them self police their brotherly bond. However, on the flip side, the one thing my wife and I continuously pound into them is manners. It may seem like a small trivial thing, but looking others in the eye, speaking up, shaking hands, offering genuine pleases and thank you’s are essential building blocks in gaining entry into the greater world outside of their nuclear family and better soaking up the experiences that encourage growth.
What’s the one thing you cannot live without as a Dad?
Beside my wife who does most of the heavy lifting? I would say my surfboard or even better the ocean. It’s my sanctuary and I enjoy it when I’m alone or with my kids equally.
What’s on tap for this year’s Newport Folk Festival?
A smorgasbord for the musical omnivore. We’re actually a bit nervous because each year we don’t think it’s possible to bring more of our favorite artists to the Fort. I honestly don’t think we could fit more music into the weekend. We’re gluttons for punishment on the production side but watching the fan’s faces makes it all worth it.
Favorite music venues/festivals that are kid and family friendly?
For family outings I’d say Newport Folk, Newport Jazz, Telluride Bluegrass and Oregon Country Fair. In short I like day time festivals that don’t try and overcrowd themselves but also don’t play down to children.
How do you manage the duties of fatherhood with the demands of running a large music Festival and a pretty cool Paste Magazine?
A lot of help. Seriously though, learning how to let people you work with do their jobs and stay out of their way is half the battle. The other important factor, no matter how trite it sounds is to put family first. I’m fortunate in that my family knows that there are times when I cannot dedicate much time to them, as long as I make up for it on the flipside. With everything it’s all about balance. You just can’t be afraid to walk away from the desk and go play when the moment calls for it. All work and no play makes Jay a dull boy.
What the perfect Father’s Day gift?
Shoulder high swell with off shore winds, some pulled pork and sweet potato hash, a six pack of hard cider, my Newport 2014 playlist, peace on earth and a fire in the outdoor firepit.
photo credit : Giles Clement