Newport Folk Festival 2011 Highlights–More to Come!!

This weekend’s Newport Folk Festival was a whirlwind of music, interviews, backstage beers and just general folkin’ around that is far too much to cover in just one post. Below the three of us who were in attendance selected one highlight of the weekend to hold you all over until we bring on more coverage.

We were lucky enough to speak with members of Delta Spirit, Middle Brother, Dawes, Decemberists, David Wax Museum, Freelance Whales, Tegan and Sara, Trampled By Turtles and festival producers Jay Sweet and the legendary George Wein. We will be posting these interviews as well as photos from the festival throughout the week so make sure to choose Maimed and Tamed as your destination for your Newport Folk Festival 2011 recap.

Eric- Trampled By Turtles on Sunday 7/31 at 1:40pm Quad Stage

One of the highlights of this tremendous weekend for me was Trampled By Turtles’ set at the Quad stage on Sunday. We knew that the boys from Duluth were going to come ready to rock since they are preceded by their impeccable live performance reputation, but I don’t think we really had a clear idea as to what we were getting ourselves into. Dave Simonett and the rest of the TBT crew stormed through a set of some of the most progressive bluegrass music you will ever hear at Newport, highlighted by feverish solos from Erik Berry on the mandolin and Ryan Young on the fiddle.

I was surprised to see that the crowd stayed in their seats up until the last song, but at that point it was clear that everyone wanted to dance. Closing out their set with fan favorite “Wait So Long” turned the Quad stage into a full-on hoedown. The ovation was so immense when the band had finished that festival producer Jay Sweet took the stage and remarked “Do I even have to ask?” before inviting the band on for one more song. And oh was it a treat.

TBT delivered an incredible rendition of Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind,” with Simonett referring to the fellow Newport vets as one of the band’s biggest influences. Although this was my first time seeing TBT, I can most certainly say that it will not be my last.

Caroline- Middle Brother/Dawes on Sunday 7/31 at 4:20pm Quad Stage

Expectations were high for Middle Brother’s Sunday set at the Newport Folk Fest.  The super-group was scheduled to perform at 4:20, at the same time as  both The Head and the Heart, and the legendary Elvis Costello.  Regardless of the tug-of-war-like conflict, the Quad Stage was bursting with hungry Middle Bro fans.  In addition to the project’s frontmen (Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit and John McCauley of Deer Tick), we also spotted members of their respective bands in the wings.  All of Dawes was accounted for, ready to back up both Middle Brother and M. Ward, as well as Jon Jameson and Kelly Winrich of Delta Spirit.  With all of the boys lined up, ready to play the final (official) show of the Middle Brother tour, yeah, you could say expectations were high.

So Middle Bro grabbed their beers and guitars and took the stage, blasting through almost every track from their album with explosive energy to spare.  From Vasquez’s chain smoking to drummer Griffin Goldsmith’s bizarro facial expressions (they put John Mayer’s to shame), each player contributed to Middle Brother’s charming and unique stage presence.  We captured a great moment during Taylor’s solo “Wilderness,” where he earnestly confessed that he hadn’t played the song in months and had forgotten the last verse.  As Goldsmith stood strumming the chords, racking his brain, Vasquez ran out from backstage, screaming the lyrics out to Taylor, and ultimately joining him on stage to finish the song.  It was a classic moment that certainly captured the fraternal spirit of the Middle Brother crew.  Fittingly, the band closed with “Middle Brother,” packing all of the Delta Spirit and Dawes boys, as well as honorary Mid Bro member Jonny Corndawg, on stage.  While the set would have been one of Newport’s finest if it had ended here, it didn’t.

As we suspected, the unstoppable Dawes was ready and willing to slip in a few of their own tracks.  They kicked off with the epic buildup of “Fire Away.”  The track from their new album, Nothing is Wrong, was a fun nod to Newport veterans, considering it was tested out for the audience at last year’s festival.  The song has ripened with age, coming to a huge crescendo outfitted with spot-on guitar solos.  It was easily one of our most memorable tracks of the weekend.  Next was “When My Time Comes,” which was turned up a notch thanks to the Middle Brother boys: McCauley took on a verse and lent his microphone out to singing fans, and Vasquez kept the energy high by running through the aisles in the crowd.  As of today, there are no future tour dates set for Middle Brother.  While it’s disheartening to see them to go their separate ways, the boys of Delta Spirit, Dawes, and Deer Tick have proven that anytime they reunite in the future, be it in two weeks or in a year, an irreplaceable musical brotherhood and bond will still remain.

Trevor- River City Extension on Saturday 7/30 at 12:35pm Quad Stage

I knew that it was going to be one of the best weekends of my summer right when River City Extension walked onto the Quad Stage. First they picked up their instruments. Second, they took the crowd from their seats in Newport to folking heaven in a matter of seconds. Joe Michelini led the band in a transcendent performance by belting out hits from the group’s 2010 album, The Unmistakeable Man. The most notable performances being, “South for the Winter” (about 10 minutes into the set) and the obvious crowd favorite, “Something Salty, Something Sweet” (32 minutes) won the Folkies over.

To honor the momentous occasion of playing at their first Newport Folk Festival, Joe led the band off the stage and into the aisles to play a well deserved acoustic encore. As the band formed a circle around Joe, the unsuspecting crowd quickly started to clamber over their chairs for the best view of these rising stars from Toms River, New Jersey. Fortunately, Maimed and Tamed was able to get an exclusive interview with the members of the band after show. Check back soon for that interview and many more from this weekend’s festival.

Posted on by Eric in Newport Folk Festival Spotlight

Add a Comment