Festivals, Newport Folk Festival, The Revue — July 27, 2018 at 7:00 am

Newport Folk Festival 2018 – Day One Guide

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Yesterday, we shared our complete guide of the 53rd edition of Newport Folk Festival. To make it easier, we’ll be splitting the guide up into each day, so here is obviously Day One.

Whether this is your 20th NFF or your first, you know there will be conflicts – plenty of conflicts! The Newport Folk Festival 2018 Day One Guide, as such, is intended to help you navigate through the inevitable dilemmas by providing short summaries of the artists performing. The text is blow, but PDF and Microsoft Word versions are also attached below (they are for all three days, however).

Be sure to pick up the NFF 2018 app, as it is still the place to see the entire schedule and get the latest news, which includes weather updates (download options here). In addition, we highly recommend that you connect with the Festival on social media. Enjoy the day, which should be one fine one.

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NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL 2018 – THE FULL GUIDE – Word

NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL 2018 – THE FULL GUIDE – PDF

Each day of the Festival always commences with the Open Mic (10:00 AM, Museum), at which time aspiring artists get to strum a few tunes before the main festivities commence. Could a future NFF headliner be performing in front of our eyes? Or are you one wishing to stand on the Fort or Quad Stages in front of a few thousand music lovers? You’ll have to get to the Festival early either way to discover new talent or showcase what you have. It’s also a good idea to come early…

…to hear the gorgeous harmonies and the indie dreamy genius of Darlingside (11:00, Harbor). Given that the four-piece are from nearby Cambridge, Massachusetts, expect them to put on the best show of their lives. Furthermore, expect to hear something old (they started off as an indie-folk band) to something refreshingly new and inventive (think Vampire Weekend going folk)…

…while singer-songwriter Johnny Irion (11:00, Museum) will deliver some classic folk- and country-rock. Most people will know Irion from his work with his wife Sarah Lee Guthrie, but earlier this year Irion released his debut solo LP, Driving Friend, which featured members of Dawes, Wilco, Nicki Bluhm, and The Gramblers. This alone displays the respect he has earned in his nearly three-decade career, and those who see him will be rewarded with moving and intimate stories…

…but Tuck & Patti ‘s (11:00, Quad) story might be the Festival’s most moving moment. For over four decades, the married couple have been performing together, and to this day they continue to experiment and expand their sound. Folk, blues, R&B, rock, and jazz, they’ve done it all, but they’re mostly known for their innovative take on jazz with William Charles “Tuck” Andress perfecting his soft virtuosity approach and Patricia “Patti” Cathcart Andress serenading audiences with one of the most captivating voices in all of music…

…and captivation will be in order when Fantastic Negrito (11:20, Fort) arrives. The Massachusetts native now Oakland resident rose to indie stardom when he won NPR’s Tiny Desk competition in 2015 and since then Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz has been blowing the minds of concert-goers with his blazing mix of blues, R&B, soul, and rock as well as his politically- and socially-charged lyrics. This show is the Festival’s wake-up call…

…and Courtney Marie Andrews (12:00, Museum) is the first of many artists that people will be talking about long after the Festival concludes. A long-time favorite of ours and a seasoned musician whom Ryan Adams has praised, the 27-year old Andrews has already released six albums! Her latest, May Your Kindness Remain, rekindles the magic of ’70s country and country-rock, and it should be recognized as one of the year’s very best, just like how her previous record, Honest Life, was in 2016. Discover why audiences in Europe have embraced her…

…or alternatively discover the worldly talents of Mali’s Sidi Touré‘s (12:05, Harbor) music. You don’t need to speak nor understand French. All you need is an open mind and be willing to stand, dance, and clap, as the Bamako-based artist and his band deliver their inventive brand of songhaï blues. If you have no idea what this is, then go see the quartet and be mesmerized by exquisite guitar work while shaking your hips to the Afro-beat rhythms…

…but if the fiddle is your thing, then Amanda Shires (12:15, Quad) should be the choice. Don’t expect, however, a classic performance. Instead, prepare for a roots-rock / rock ‘n roll show that will make you think the hour is 10 PM and not just the start of the afternoon. Her fifth album, To The Sunset, is set to be released on August 3rd, and it promises to be a rollicking effort. Don’t be surprised if Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit show up…

…and expect a few surprises when JD McPherson (12:35, Fort) takes the stage. The celebrated blues-rocker / rockabilly revivalist is no stranger to NFF, and a few of his closest friends will be performing during the three days. As such, anticipate a few guests to show up, but keep your eyes fixated on the Oklahoma native because he and his band will have the audience in a jubilant mood. He’ll also get them fired up with some not-so-light banter, which is another part of NFF’s appeal…

…and Erika Wennerstrom (1:00, Museum) is one to never hold anything back. The Heartless Bastards front woman possesses one of the most unique and incredible voices, which adds to the intensity of her songs that range from intimate, personal tales to observations of the state of the world. Her solo debut album, Sweet Unknown, though, is Wennerstrom’s the most emotional, heartfelt, and uplifting output, where she shares tales of redemption and strength. It’s a bit of a shame that she’s in the Museum because her voice could fill up the entire State Park…

…while Kate Stables and her band This Is The Kit (1:30, Harbor) will leave people hushed with their spellbinding indie-folk. Their last album, Moonshine Freeze, was 40 minutes of attention-grabbing music, where every blissful note and immaculate lyric left listeners in suspended motion. Her presence at Newport Folk Festival is also one of achievement, as it wasn’t until her third album, 2015’s Bashed Out, and after more than a decade of constant touring that brought her into indie limelight…

…which is an experience that outlaw country artist Tyler Childers (1:25, Quad) knows far too well. While Childers is still relatively young (still just 27-years old), he’s been active for nearly a decade and his debut album, Bottles and Bibles, barely registered on music charts and across the blogsphere. Undeterred, he continued to ply his trade, releasing two EPs and constantly touring. Eventually, as predicted, people started to know his name, including Sturgill Simpson, who would produce Childers’ breakthrough sophomore LP, Purgatory. Now, Childers is one of country music’s shining stars…

…standing alongside the incomparable Margo Price (1:50, Fort). The Nashville native has been a mainstay at NFF, having performed or supported artists at the Festival the past two years, including her memorable duet with Kris Kristofferson. This time around, however, fellow performers will be lining up to collaborate with country music’s new queen, the next Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton if you will. Yes, indeed, royalty is in the house…

…and speaking of which, The Autumn Defense (2:05, Museum) features two kings of indie rock and Americana. They are John Stirratt and Pat Sansone, who are known for their work with the great Wilco (Stirratt is an original member and was with Uncle Tupelo). Together, they head west and back into time, recreating the lavish sounds of ’70s LA rock. Their presence at the Museum will make the old brick building feel like Venice Beach or Malibu, where the few dozen patrons inside will think they’re cruising or rollerblading down the grand boardwalks…

…yet nearby a Los Angeles artist will be swooning audiences with his deft instrumentation, sensual voice, and brilliant mix of classic R&B, soul, folk, downtempo, and trip hop. His name is Moses Sumney (2:25, Harbor), who is one of music’s grandest and most respected innovators. Somehow, Sumney continues to fly under the radar with mainstream audiences, but mention his name to Sufjan Stevens or Solange Knowles and they speak glowingly about his talents. We highly expect him to be one of the most talked-about artists when the three days conclude…

…and new supergroup Glorietta (2:40, Quad) will also be in the conversation. Featuring Jason Robert Blum, Noah Gundersen, Adrian Quesada, David Ramirez, Matthew Logan Vasquez, and Kelsey Wilson, this collective would seem to be the genesis of NFF Executive Producer Jay Sweet (and maybe it was). As such, they are a natural fit for the festival, and their rollicking country-rock and Americana will have everyone under the big tent up on their feet. Expect several massive ovations

…which will also be the case for Lucius (3:10, Fort). For the past four NFFs, Jess Wolf and Holly Laessig have been everywhere. We mean everywhere! They’ve performed with the full band, sang with Mavis Staples, and backed up Roger Waters during his incredible performance in 2015. This time around, the entire quartet will be at the Fort, and they likely won’t be alone. We fully anticipate they’ll be joined by several special guests (we suggest starting a pool with your friends) as well as them including some classic folk tunes to go with their upbeat pop fare on their excellent 2016 album, Good Grief...

…and these two words likely will be uttered by those who stay for the three-hour musical treat, Hotel Song Swap (3:30 to 6:30, Museum). Six extremely talented bands and artists will take the stage for between 20 to 30 minutes, sharing stories and songs related to their lives as touring musicians. Oh, expect them to cover some Townes Van Zandt plus collaborating together on a few numbers. The guests include rock ‘n roll outfit The Band Heathens (3:30); award-winning country artist Jack Ingram (4:00); indie chameleon Butch Walker (4:30); living guitar legend and country-rock artist Paul Cauthen (5:00); rising Americana / country-folk singer-songwriter John Fullbright (5:30); and the firebrand rock ‘n roll of Jonathan Tyler (6:30). The collaboration potential is off-the-charts and maybe a new supergroup could form out of this…

…which is what Rachael & Vilray (3:45, Harbor) are. Featuring Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive and composer and songwriter Vilray, the longtime friends first met at the New England Conservatory of Music 2003. While their main projects have long been retro-inspired, they’re turning the clocks further back and reinterpreting the blues, jazz, and pop of the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s. As such, expect several audience members to utter the names Gershwin, Billie Holiday, Etta James, and Frank Sinatra and deservedly so because the duo’s songs are as timeless…

…as the beautiful music (and magic) created by Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite (4:10, Quad). The duo first collaborated in 2013 and released the Grammy-winning Get Up! Five years later, they returned with another record, No Mercy In This Land, that will surely garner Grammy attention in 2019. While the two bridge classic folk arrangements with contemporary blues-rock, they’ve kept the one characteristic common to both genres – capturing today’s history through fearless storytelling…

…and this trait explains why Sturgill Simpson (4:40, Fort) has become a living legend within the country scene, especially after he unexpectedly took home the 2017 Grammy for Album of the Year with the transcendent A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. His music is unlike anything in music let alone country. He can get gritty and dirty and belt out roaring outlaw country tunes. He can dial back the noise and serenade with an intimate and personal story. Then he’ll add some doo-wop, orchestral pop, soul, and Motown. And he does all of this within one song let alone an entire LP. He’ll go down as one of music’s great artists…

…which is a title that should be bestowed upon The Wood Brothers (5:10, Harbor). Like some of their contemporaries, they have avoided using boiler plates and tackling the same old topics. They’ve instead merged roots, blues, and folk into one unique and evocative sound. Think of a concert at Levon Helm’s farm, where any number of artists from across many genres come together for one night to perform. At the end of the evening, they’re jamming together and creating something new and refreshing. That’s the power and brilliance of Oliver Wood, Chris Wood, and Jano Rix…

…and in the case of Annie Clark – a.k.a. St. Vincent (5:40, Quad) – everyone acknowledges her genius, including David Byrne. Clark is everything in the proverbial musical kitchen sink – guitar god, songwriter extraordinaire, incomparable composer, and stunning vocalist. She’s also no one-trick pony, as exhibited by her synth-driven, latest album, MASSEDUCATION. Oh, she’s also a talented choreographer, who scripts her concerts right to the finest detail. What she will have in store at Newport is unknown, but given the setting and environment expect her to change things up and possibly ad lib it a bit. No matter how she approaches the performance, she will most likely leave people completely captivated and talking about her show for a very long time…

…just like what Jason Isbell did back in 2013 and again in 2015. Since those shows, many people have clamored for the former Drive-by Truckers member to headline one of the Festival’s days, and he’ll get that opportunity with his band The 400 Unit (6:15, Fort). While they will likely play plenty from their last album, The Nashville Sound, don’t be surprised if Isbell and company go off the board and cover some politically- and socially-charged numbers. This is Newport Folk Festival after all – it’s not merely another music festival but a gathering of the like-minded who wish to positively change the world. There isn’t a better artist to end Day 1 than one of America’s most gifted songwriters.

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