Festivals, Newport Folk Festival, The Revue — July 30, 2017 at 5:45 am

Newport Folk Festival 2017: Sunday Guide

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Like the first two days, the final day of Newport Folk Festival is loaded with marquee-worthy performers. There are several collaborations officially on the bill. To make things even more interesting, there is one time slot that features an unnannounced artist. Who could it be? Hmm…

To assist with your planning, the Newport Folk Festival 2017: Sunday Guide is your answer. We’ve provided a quick synopsis on each artist and band. The list is in chronological order.

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Newport Folk Festival 2017: Sunday Guide

Another day and another Open Mic (10:00 AM, Museum) to kick off the festivities. There are some talented musicians to check out here, so stop by and let these “newcomers” be your musical wake-up before…

…heading to see folk and gospel legends Kim & Reggie Harris (11:00 AM, Museum). The duo from upstate New York have been performing to live audiences for 43 years! They shared the stage with the likes of Pete Seeger and Harry Belafonte, so you know they have plenty of stories to share. This will be a nice way to ease into the day…

…unless you’re looking for something more boisterous, then the choice becomes CHOIR! CHOIR! CHOIR! (11:00 AM, Harbor). The brainchild of Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman, the Toronto-based collective reinterpret popular songs into gospel renditions. On this occasion, though, we’re hoping to hear songs by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Chuck Berry completely reimagined. Regardless of what they sing, the occasion is guaranteed to be a fun time…

…while behind the Fort, the Berklee Gospel & Roots Choir (11:05 AM, Quad) will once again have audience raising their hands to the sky and yelling, “Hallelujah!” A mainstay at Newport Folk Festival for the past five years, the group of teachers and students will turn Sunday morning hymns into euphoric anthems while adding their own original material to the morning’s festivities. It’s unfortunate, however, we won’t get to see the Choir joined this year by…

Preservation Hall Jazz Band (11:15 AM, Fort), the long-time fan favorites and part-time NFF house band. This time around, they’ve been tasked with electrifying the congregation. However, they likely won’t be alone, as a parade of surprise performers could very well join them on stage. Even if they will be conducting the sermon on their own, watching Charlie Gabriel play the saxophone and clarinet while dancing on stage is well worth the price of admission…

…and just coming to the Festival to see Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge (12:00 PM, Museum) collaborate will be a highlight. Lage and Eldridge are simply two of the great guitarists around today. Combine their interests in jazz, folk, and bluegrass, and the tightly-packed Museum will be a cacophony of delightful sounds. They’re also known for improvising on the spot, so who knows what they’ll play. It is NFF, after all, where the spectacular happens…

…especially when an artist like C.W. Stoneking (12:05 PM, Harbor) is invited to play on a very intimate stage. The Australian artist is first and foremost a great storyteller, often taking lighthearted jabs at his own country and its history. He also has a self-deprecating sense of humor, which, along with his excellent banjo skills, should liven up the Sunday afternoon crowd…

…and no one will be seen napping at another of the day’s awesome collaborations – this one involving Steelism with vocalist extraordinaires Ruby Amanfu and Nicole Atkins (12:25 PM, Quad). Arrive at this set with an open mind and popcorn, because Jeremy Fetzer and Spencer Cullum (who are Steelism) are creating music scores for ’60s espionage and film-noir movies. Is there a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than imaging a spy thriller? Well…

…then there’s something about a great banjo player, which definitely describes Punch Brothers member Noam Pikelny (12:30 PM, Museum). His third solo album, Universal Favorite, was released earlier this year and showcases how the banjo can be a diverse and complex instrument. Only in the hands of a master could something familiar sound so unique…

…which is what Chuck Berry did during his time when he turned the electric guitar into a sonic weapon and made rock ‘n roll into the most exhilarating genre of the ’50s and ’60s. To celebrate the legacy of this music giant who died in March, NFF is presenting a tribute called CHUCK! (12:30 PM, Fort). Performers are unknown at this time, but we’re guessing some of the great guitarists already at the Festival – such as Jim James and Carl Broemel – will be on hand. This show could go down as one of the Festival’s historical highlights, matching the tribute to Dylan going electric…

…and that moment back in 1965 helped paved the way for bands like Pinegrove (1:10 PM, Harbor) to be at NFF. The New Jersey indie rockers have emerged as favorites among tastemakers and the twentysomething crowd with their confessional songwriting and mood-swaying sound. It’s hard to believe that just two years ago they were a hidden gem, but a couple of successful LPs (and emerging alongside Half Waif and Frankie Cosmos), and the great NYC collective sure have changed their fortunes…

…and likewise Olivia Chaney‘s (1:20 PM, Museum) career took a turn after a conversation with Colin Meloy led her to open for The Decemberists. She’s still a hidden gem, but her next big break could very well be on this day at the Festival. In listening to her music and stories, one names come to mind: Joni Mitchell. Indeed, she could very well be the heir to one of the greats…

…as could the great Margaret Glaspy (1:25 PM, Quad), whose star exploded last year. Her album, Emotions and Math, was a critical darling due in large part to Glaspy’s tremendous songwriting and the fiery, gritty style that percolated beneath the old-school folk-rock and indie-rock approach. Not surprisingly, the LP was named to several year-end lists (including ours), and the words “the next great singer-songwriter” were etched beside her name. Fiona Apple, Liz Phair, and Patti Smith are some of the greats with whom she’s been compared…

…while Michael Kiwanuka (1:45 PM, Fort) has been anointed the next Bill Withers, Otis Redding, and Terry Callier. The British soul singer is a throwback to the days when songs simultaneously moved us with their hard-hitting lyrics while easing our minds with a sound that defined cool and grace. Like Glaspy, his 2016 album, Love & Hate, was among the very best, almost unanimously being listed on “Best of” lists (on our own and was Hollie’s #1 album of the year). It was an instant classic by a man who is now the living standard of soul music. His set promises to be one of the most highly anticipated and memorable…

…and at the Jalopy Theatre Presents event (2:00 PM, Museum) memories will be created throughout the four-hour event. There is not one single band performing. Heck, there aren’t two nor three. Instead, six bands and artists will occupy the Museum, taking turns to share their music and stories. The performers include The Four o’clock Flowers, Piedmont Bluz Acoustic Duo, Feral Foster, Spirit Family Reunion, Eva Salina, and The Horse-Eyed Men. Given the large number of groups, expect one or two collaborations, if not more. For those looking for the next breakout NFF star, this is the one show to catch because one day they could be…

…the Unannounced performer (2:25 PM, Harbor). This is Newport Folk Festival, so you know whomever they’ve lined up at this time slot will be a marquee. Last year, it was Kris Kristofferson, so who could it be this year? We have a good idea who it is, but all we can say is grab a spot early and be thrilled about the person making a return appearance…

…but if you don’t like surprises and want some classic soft-rock to spend a Sunday afternoon, then Whitney (2:35 PM, Quad) are the perfect choice. Another band whose 2016 LP made our 50 Favorite Albums list, the duo of Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich have emerged from the shadows of their former band (the Smith Westerns) and established themselves firmly within the indie landscape. They’ve done this by being straight-ahead and groovy while not overplaying their hand or overstepping their stylistic guidelines. They have, in other words, paid homage to the ’70s and ’80s music they’ve re-imagined…

…much like what Rhiannon Giddens (3:10 PM, Fort) has achieved over a decade in the business. Her music is genre-defying, although at its foundation is country-folk-blues. Hearing her music is often a spiritual experience, which her previous two albums – this year’s Freedom Highway and 2015’s Tomorrow Is My Turn – were. Her songs, though, are powerful anthems of perseverance, resilience, and, more importantly, humanity…

…while at the heart of John Paul White‘s music (3:40 PM, Harbor) is the vulnerability of the human condition. Whether solo or through his former project (The Civil Wars), White has established a career of making listeners weak in the knees and reflecting on our own situations, both good and bad. It is the hallmark of an artist who is able to make us look both introspectively and ahead at what is to come…

…though Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog (4:10 PM, Quad) have never been ones to look in the rearview mirror. Instead, the indie-rock quintet have constantly evolved and experimented. Their new album, The Psychedelic Swamp, is a microcosm of the band’s nearly two-decade career, as the LP features pop, psychedelic, folk-rock, and alt-rock elements. It is a wild, whimsical, yet wonderful album, which are also three adjectives that define Dr. Dog…

…and the history of Newport Folk Festival. If you’re keen to learn more about NFF’s 58 years, Rick Massimo will present his new book, I Got A Song: A History of Newport Folk Festival (5:00 PM, Museum). The session will be an opportunity to ask Massimo questions about the Festival’s early beginnings to the measures taken to bring NFF into the 21st Century. One thing that hasn’t changed is that NFF remains an occasion for artists to make a statement…

…and this artistic freedom is the focus of Speak Out (4:40 PM, Fort), which is a special set focused on how music can be a powerful means of protest. Given these times, music is a vital medium to express oneself and to rally people behind a cause…

…which Suzanne Vega (5:05 PM, Harbor) has been doing for the majority of her 35 years in the business. While most will remember her for her hits like “Tom’s Diner” and “Luka,” the themes in her music often touch upon difficult issues. For instance, “Luka” is about the abuse of a young boy. Her vivid mind and cinematic compositions, however, often overshadowed her messages. On this day, though, her stories will grab hold even more…

…while the star power at the American Acoustic show (5:20 PM, Quad) will have people streaming to the Quad. This event features Punch Brothers, Julian Lage, and the newly formed super-trio I’m With Her (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan). This set has the makings of being a truly remarkable, jaw-dropping affair. It’s safe to assume the seven performers will sing their own songs, but the collaborative opportunities are beyond imagination. We wonder what they’ll cover…

…but we clearly know what John Prine (6:15 PM, Fort) will do when he closes out the Festival. He will blow us away with tremendous stories, his strong voice, and the energy he exudes on stage. And still on the subject of collaborations, this set will likely feature plenty. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to be on stage with one of the all-time greats? Plus, it’s the only way to end the weekend – a living legend surrounded by his adoring peers and a gushing audience. This is what defines and separates Newport Folk Festival from the rest.

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