Festivals, Newport Folk Festival, The Revue — July 28, 2017 at 1:15 am

Newport Folk Festival 2017: Friday Guide

by

We have arrived at our favorite time of year and one of our top two festivals. There is nothing like Newport Folk Festival, now in its 58th year! The Festival’s longevity is a testament to its influence and impact on music, such as when Bob Dylan went electric in 1966 or as recently as last year when Kris Kristofferson made two surprise appearances. That is the magic of this wonderful and intimate event that sees 10,000 people descend on the Fort Adams State Park grounds to share their love for music.

Like every year, the lineup is incredible. And like every year, the schedule is full of conflicts. We’re not talking about 1 or 2 time slots – we’re talking all day long! Some people opt to “stage hop,” catching 10 to 15 minutes of one performer before moving on to the next one. Others may decide to camp out at one of the stages, particularly the Quad and Harbor Stages, where there is limited seating under the tents. Playing musical chairs is actually an experience everyone should encounter once. Trust us; for some of us, this year represents year six of heading to the granddaddy of all music festivals.

To assist with your planning, we’ve drafted our annual Newport Folk Festival 2017 Guide. We’ve done one for each day, and we hope you enjoy them.

Also, follow the Festival online to get updates on special guests, surprise collaborations, and latest news (like who is playing at the cave). The best way is to get the app (download options here) or connect with them on social media:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 

Newport Folk Festival 2017: Friday Guide

A longtime NFF tradition is the Open Mic (10:00 AM, Museum), at which aspiring artists get to strum a few tunes before the festival. Could a future NFF headliner be performing in front of our eyes? You’ll have to get to the Festival early to find out. It’s also a good idea to come early…

…to see Kevin Locke (11:00 AM, Museum), an indigenous education and hoop dancer, perform. It’s a unique and respectful way to kick off the Festival and a great opportunity to learn about the arts and culture of America’s First Peoples. These small but inspiring gestures are what make NFF extremely unique…

…as well as their habit of inviting talented but overlooked singer-songwriters like Matt Sever, who is better known as Matt the Electrician (11:00 AM, Harbor). The Austin-based artist is one of the most gifted storytellers, taking personal experiences and turning them into imaginative vignettes for all to appreciate. He’s a throwback to folk’s origins…

…much like Joshua Hedley (11:15 AM, Quad) hearkens back to country music’s golden era of the ’60s and ’70s. He’s a little bit like Waylon Jennings with plenty of Roy Orbison to go along with his southern charm. While Hedley takes us to the past…

Aaron Lee Tasjan (11:30 AM, Fort) is giving us a taste of the future in alt-country, blues, and folk. His sophomore album, Silver Tears, revealed a witty songwriter whose songs ranged from the dreamy imagery to wry and biting. He’s one of music’s rising stars, and he’s on the verge of a major breakthrough…

…like what Joe Purdy (11:45 AM, Museum) experienced last year. One of the hardest working artists on the planet (he’s released 14 albums in 16 years!) and a favorite of the folk and folk-rock scene, his Who Will Be Next? album was one of the most critically acclaimed LPs of 2016. It was a masterful piece of songwriting, but more importantly a powerful symbol of protest. As such, expect to be emotionally and physically moved…

…by the The Wild Reeds (12:00 PM, Harbor) who will also being doing that with their combination of classic and dream folk. Their 2014 album, Blind and Brave, was a euphoric, gorgeous album that had us predicting they would eventually perform at NFF. This year, they released The World We Built, which showed a surprisingly edgy side to their folk music. Now everyone will get to see why they have long been a favorite of ours …

…and speaking of favorites, Seratones (12:25 PM, Quad) are another band we’ve been gushing over for a few years. The soulful indie-rock band from Louisiana will have people on their feet in a joyous mood. Their music is energetic, and AJ Haynes is one of the great frontwomen in the business. Her energy and presence is akin to Sharon Jones, so you won’t be able to keep your eyes off her…

…while the Ben Miller Band (12:30 PM, Museum) will pique your interest with their blend of politically-charged social commentary and imaginative storytelling. The quartet from the city of Joplin, Missouri, are in many ways a classic folk band, and for folk purists, the name Woody Guthrie will likely echo in your mind while they perform…

…whereas there is no mistaking Blind Pilot (12:40 PM, Fort) as one of the more creative forces in the business. Never one to be pigeon-holed, the Portland (Oregon) super-troop merges folk, alt-country, indie rock, and even splashes of orchestral art-rock to create their unique sound. On a warm Friday afternoon, their set will be the perfect tonic to cool things down…

…but if you’re looking for some sizzle, then L.A. Salami (1:10 PM, Harbor) is the choice. The project of Lookman Adekunle Salami, the London-based artist is turning blues-rock on its head and making it more theatrical, gritty, and hard-hitting. Meanwhile, his songwriting style is reminiscent of one Bob Dylan, and we’re not exaggerating. He’s one of our picks to be the Festival’s biggest surprises, where everyone mentions his name as the one artist they “discovered”…

…although Baskery (1:20 PM, Museum) could give him a run for his money. Comprised of sisters Greta, Stella and Sunniva Bondesson, the Swedish Americana/folk-pop-rock trio are one part HAIM and another part First Aid Kit, which means they’ll immediately become a Festival highlight for those who get to see them. The Museum Stage won’t be able to contain them…

…just like how the Quad Stage is too small for fast-rising indie group Big Thief (1:35 PM, Quad). A huge favorite of ours, the Brooklyn-based quartet have achieved a rarity in the past 12 months: releasing two albums that simply were among the very best of their respective years. Their 2016 debut, Masterpiece, was exactly that, and this year’s follow-up, Capacity, is even more remarkable. Big Thief are one of the most exciting bands to arrive in the past decade…

…while Alynda Segarra – a.k.a. Hurray For The Riff Raff (1:55 PM, Fort) – remains one of the most important singer-songwriters of our time. In an era where protest music has become received a new life, Segarra’s latest album, Navigator, may be the standard by which all will be judged. It just wasn’t a searing attack on those in power, but a call for all to rise up and regain control while also celebrating our cultures and communities. Her return to NFF will also be one to celebrate and behold…

…because not every year an artist is asked to return time and time again, but Carl Broemel (2:25 PM, Harbor) is one of the rare exceptions. This year marks Broemel’s third consecutive visit to NFF, although the previous two years he and his My Morning Jacket bandmates were backing Roger Waters and Ray Lamontagne, respectively. As he told us last year, he hoped to return to play songs from his new album, 4th of July. Now that his wish has been granted, Broemel’s gig is a rare opportunity to see one of music’s great guitarists turn down the volume to showcase his warm, intimate side…

…and speaking of rare opportunities, the Alone and Together (2:50 PM, Quad) set best defines what NFF is about. Alone and Together is not a band per se, but a unique collaboration that brings together five brilliant artists. Kevin Morby (who released one of the year’s best albums in City Music), Sam Cohen, Eric D. Johnson (of the Fruit Bats), Joe Russo, and Josh Kaufman will be the musicians on hand. They’ll be performing their own songs, tackling a few covers, and possibly offer a surprise single…

…which is what we’re expecting to hear during The Ballroom Thieves “Beantown Throwdown” (3:00 PM, Museum). The Ballroom Thieves have quickly become one of New England’s best Americana/folk groups, and their performance at last year’s NFF was legendary. This year, they’re bringing along their friends Tall Heights and Ryan Montbleau to showcase why Boston is developing a reputation as America’s next great music city. In the years to come, we fully expect all three groups to graduate to the bigger stages and ascend to the heights…

…that wife-and-husband duo Shovels and Rope (3:10 PM, Fort) have achieved in their nearly 10 years together. One of the bands at the forefront of the Americana revival earlier this decade, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent have become staples of Billboard charts. Despite their popularity, they haven’t succumbed to the pitfalls of mainstream popularity, but instead have remained true to their roots…

…while down-to-earth and honest are also perfect adjectives to describe Brent Cobb (3:45 PM, Harbor). The Nashville-based artist is, in our minds, like a young Ryan Adams, just without the pinball machines and giant stuffed bear and a bit more twang. But similar to the alt-country superstar, Cobb writes music straight from the heart, never shy to share his emotions with listeners…

…like Ben Gibbard (4:10 PM, Quad), who has carved out a twenty-year career by writing emotive songs with his band Death Cab for Cutie. His solo performance at NFF is one of the great curiosities. Will he perform new songs or transform DCFC’s indie pop-rock flair for a folk festival? Gibbard’s set is the most unpredictable of the day, which makes it a really intriguing one…

…but on the other side of the festival grounds The Head and the Heart (4:40 PM, Fort) will offer their usual recipe of euphoric Americana/folk-pop fare. Expect lots of “ooh ooh ooh” singalong moments, upbeat numbers, and just a good old time. This is the one show during the day where a party atmosphere will break out. So grab a beverage, put on the sunscreen, and have a grand old time dancing the hour away…

…or grab a seat and get ready to laugh when Nancy and Beth take to the Harbor Stage (5:05 PM, Harbor). Comprised of actresses Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt, the duo describe themselves as a punk-Vaudeville band. In other words, expect light-hearted fare played to some serious music. Although given this is NFF and anything can happen, especially with Parks and Recreation‘s Nick Offerman joining them, this set will likely be full of surprises and memorable moments…

..while we fully expect Regina Spektor (5:35 PM, Quad) to leave us in awe like she did in March while performing in Montreal. The Russian-born, New York-based singer-songwriter is a chameleon. Smoky jazz numbers, elegant piano-driven ballads, cunning “anti-folk” songs, and even the occasional foray into punk and rock, Spektor’s boundaries are borderless. Given her range, this is the one show we think is most likely to yield several, unexpected collaborations…

…but we’re not expecting the same for the night’s headliners since Fleet Foxes (6:15 PM, Fort) reforming after six years away is a collaboration in itself. Despite the lengthy hiatus, Fleet Foxes’s third album, Crack Up, revealed a band still at the top of the game and eager to challenge how we experience music. At long last, for thousands of people on Friday, this will be their first chance to be consumed by the brilliance of Robin Pecknold, Skyler Skjelset, Casey Wescott, Christian Wargo, and Morgan Henderson. This will be an evening to remember.

Share This Article On...

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblr

Follow The Revue On...

FacebooktwitteryoutubetumblrinstagramFacebooktwitteryoutubetumblrinstagram

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *