Music, Newport Folk Festival — July 24, 2015 at 7:30 am

Newport Folk Festival July 24th Guide

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NFF overview shotIt was just on Sunday that the Ottawa Bluesfest finished, but back on the road for another festival. This will mark the 4th consecutive year that my wife and I will attend the Newport Folk Festival. No offence to the many festivals we have attended, but NFF is by far our favorite. It’s an extremely intimate festival, where roughly 10,000 people descend upon Fort Adams Park on the edge of picturesque Newport, Rhode Island. The Newport Harbor surrounds the site, and seafarers in their boats of various sizes float nearby to get a view of the festivities.

Because of the Festival’s location and its intimacy, you’ll see musicians casually walking among the patrons or sitting openly on the side of the stage watching another performer. For instance, Jack White last year headlined the Festival’s second day, yet he arrived early and watched several performances. He even took Polaroid shots of each set he attended and left it for the artists. Beck, meanwhile, had his boat docked nearby and invited some lucky fans on board. At what festivals do you see these things occurring?

Then there are the unexpected collaborations, which often involves some of the biggest names in the business. Last year, for instance, the incomparable Mavis Staples was showing up everywhere, sharing the stage with the likes of Lucius and Lake Street Dive. Of course, Jeff Tweedy showed up during her headlining set. So what are the possibilities this year? We had one idea on last week’s Mundo list, but time will only tell.

This year also is an extra special one because it marks the 50th anniversary since Bob Dylan went electric (July 25th to be exact). The move was controversial at the time with fans yelling and jeering at Dylan. Writer and Grammy Award-winning musician Elijah Wald has chronicled the event, and he’ll be on site to share his observations on how that one act would forever change music. Here’s an excerpt from his book, Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night that Split the Sixties. We’re expecting a number of performances to pay tribute to Dylan.

The only negatives about NFF are the conflicts. The lineup gets better and better each year, making it difficult to see everyone on your wishlist. My suggestions are below, but really you can’t go wrong. For the overall lineup, you can check out the Newport Folk Festival page or view the schedule online or download the app (iTunes / Google Play). For those not attending, you can stream the Festival live via Newport Folk Radio Station.

Without further ado, here is the Newport Folk Festival July 24th Guide in chronological order. I apologies for not listing all the performers.

NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL JULY 24TH GUIDE

One of the early acts is local musician HAUNT THE HOUSE (11:00 AM, Harbor Stage). The project of Will Houlihan, Haunt the House’s music is almost hymnal in nature with his whispery voice, traditional folk approach, and repentant lyrics. It surely will be a a spiritual affair, which is…

…what should also be expected for the THE GOODBYE GIRLS‘ set (11:15 AM, Quad Stage). The quartet are an international group, composed of Americans Molly Tuttle (guitar, vocals) and Brittany Karlson (bass, vocals), Canadian Allison de Groot (banjo, vocals), and Swede Lena Jonsson (fiddle, vocals). Their folk and bluegrass mix will have the Quad Stage in a joyous mood, creating the perfect opening for…

BAHAMAS (12:25, Quad Stage), the project of Toronto’s Afie Jurvanen. One of the few artists to play both Ottawa Bluesfest and NFF, Bahamas will get the opportunity to share songs from his latest album, Bahamas is Afie, which is a riveting affair that should get those at the Quad Stage in a rocking mood. Meanwhile, those waiting…

…to see ANGEL OLSEN (1:10 PM, Harbor Stage) will be moved by her amazing, haunting voice and poignant lyricism. Her 2014 album, Burn Your Fire For No Witness, was among our favorites of that year. She’s been playing solo and with a band for the past 18 months, and in either format her shows have left audiences wanting more. It’s disappointing, however, that her set conflicts with…

LEON BRIDGES (1:35, Quad Stage), who has become one of 2015’s fastest rising acts and for good reason. On his awesome debut album, Coming Home, his throwback, retro style channels legends like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Curtis Mayfield. Bridges’ show might end up being the talk of the Festival…

…but HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER (2:25, Harbor Stage) might be the act that people say was their “discovery of the weekend”. Despite appearing on Late Night with David Letterman and releasing one of the finest albums of 2014 with Lateness of Dancers, MC Taylor and Scott Hirsch continue to fly under the radar. However, that may not be for long once the Festival ends, similar to…

…what happened to THE LONE BELLOW (2:30, Fort Stage), whose star exploded in 2013 following a successful tour that included a stop at NFF. The Brooklyn-based band, however, hasn’t rested on their laurels. Instead, under the guidance of The National’s Aaron Dessner, they released Then Came the Morning earlier this year that saw The Lone Bellow further stretch themselves musically, and paying tribute to the likes of Led Zeppelin and The National. We expect them to pay homage to other greats during their set, which…

…will definitely be the case at the three-hour extravaganza, WILDWOOD REVIVAL (2:30, Museum). Started outside of Athens, Georgia, this boutique festival will make its debut in the New England area, featuring the likes of Daniel Romano, Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons, John Moreland, Margo Price, Aaron Lee Tasjan, J.P. Harris & The Tough Choices, Ian Fitzgerald, and 14-year old Sammy Brue. A little bit of folk, a touch of soul, a sprinkling of honkeytonk, and a dash of country will add to one memorable event…

…which is always the case when Calexico perform (2:50, Quad Stage). The multi-instrumental, multi-national band based out of Tuscon, Arizona has been creating some of the most innovative, cross-cultural music for nearly 20 years. Whether it’s Latin-inspired rhythms, southern roots music, songs with an Eastern European flair, or old-fashion folk, Calexico’s music is mesmerizing. Another reason to be at this stage – this show has collaboration written all over it…

…and hopefully someone like Leon Bridges joins Timothy Showalter – a.k.a. Strand of Oaks (3:45, Harbor Stage) – when he performs. One of the most affable and humble individuals you’ll meet, Showalter has battled internal and external troubles and overcome them, which he revealed on his resounding Heal, another great album from 2014. On stage, he holds nothing back, playing with an energy and flair like it’s his last show, but at the end of the day he’s the one thanking you for seeing him…

…which is also the personality of Kristian Matsson, or better known as The Tallest Man on Earth (4:00, Fort Stage). The Swedish folk giant has been compared to Dylan, but his latest album, Dark Bird Is Home, sees Matsson tackle new soundscapes without compromising the indie folk that has won him a legion of fans worldwide. It is an approach that…

…Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) and Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses) have utilized for years on their respective, successful projects. Their collaboration  (4:10, Quad Stage), while already known due to the release of their breathtaking covers album, Sing Into My Mouth, is likely to be one of the most highly sought-after shows of the Festival…

…while it’ll be standing room only at the Heartless Bastards‘ set (5:05, Harbor Stage). The rockers from Cincinnati have quietly been blowing audiences’ minds for nearly 10 years, and the open-air surroundings of Fort Adams may not be able to contain their arena rock sound that was once again on full display on Restless Ones. This show should be, in typical Heartless Bastards’ form, a cathartic one, whereas…

…the show with the Unannounced Artist(s) (5:30, Fort Stage) will likely lead to a surprise or two. There have been rumors flying and just far out guesses, although there has been some solid evidence on who will be playing during this time. But to truly find out, we’ll have to wait until 5:30, but one thing is for certain – the announced artist(s) will make for a dynamic collaboration with…

…the venerable and legendary Roger Waters (6:30, Fort Stage). The former Pink Floyd co-mastermind headlines the first day of Newport Folkfest. Maybe Waters will “unplug”? Whatever happens during the Festival’s final hour will surely be mind-blowing and memorable.

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