Newport Folk Fest 2017: Highlights


Newport Folk and its now-veteran booker Jay Sweet has proven itself to fans year after year. This year, the festival asked us to trust. Read More

August + September 2017 Spotify Playlist of the Month


After a month long hiatus we are back with 75 fresh ones from Covey, Mondo Cozmo, Mr Jukes, Ted Leo, Dwight & Nicole, Grizzly Read More

October 2017 Spotify Playlist of the Month


After a slightly bizarre Indian summer the weather has started to cool off and the leaves have finally started to turn in the Northeast. Read More

August Spotify Playlist of the Month

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M&T Spotify Playlist of the Month August 2016

Somehow it’s already August, but with hot weather comes hot jams, and we’ll certainly take that as a consolation prize. This month our playlist features new songs from 30 artists including M&T favorites like WilcoLocal Natives, Júniús Meyvant, and Tall Heights as well as newcomers like Amy León, Pool Cosby, Gizmo Varillas, and more.

Check out the full playlist below and remember to subscribe for new tunes every month.

Newport Folk Festival 2016 Recap

Posted on by Eric in Newport Folk Festival Recap | Leave a comment

Newport Folk Festival 2016 Recap

Another beautiful Folk Festival weekend at Fort Adams State Park has come and gone, and though we’re sad it’s over, we can still relish all of the incredible performances we were able to see over the course of three days. Check out the highlights below while we start dreaming about next year’s lineup.

Friday July 22

Basia Bulat at Quad Stage

An impressive Newport debut from Basia Bulat included a 101 year old harp that she bought from ebay, rocking a cape on-stage à la (her producer and our hero) Jim James, and a genuine excitement and reverence for being part of the festival. Something tells me this won’t be the last time we see Ms. Bulat at the Fort.

-Eric

The Staves at Fort Stage

The Staves’ impeccable recordings set a high bar, and their live performance clears it handily. Armed with a drummer, synths and vocoders, The Staves dispelled false notions of “folksiness” by nailing highly complex new releases like “Outlaw.” The similarly intricate, yet-to-be-released “Tired as Fuck” was a crowd favorite, though perhaps not for the parents in the crowd – sorry, kidz!

-Caroline

Matthew Logan Vasquez at Quad Stage

It’s no secret that Vasquez, much like his Middle Brother cohorts, gushes with love for this festival and that was certainly on display during his Friday set inside the Fort. Vasquez performed a selection of songs from his debut solo record, Delta Spirit’s catalog and a handful of covers, and was joined at different points throughout the set by Parkington Sisters and Fruit Bats’ Eric D. Johnson. We knew to expect a rollicking family affair from Vasquez, but what made this set extra special was that Vasquez was able to put his stellar guitar playing skills front and center.

-Eric

Violent Femmes at Fort Stage

As longtime fans of Violent Femmes we really couldn’t have asked for much more from this set. The classic xylophone line on “Gone Daddy Gone”, the tongue-in-cheek perfection of “American Music”, most definitely the largest saxophone I have ever seen in my life (that thing had to be at least 10 feet tall), and of course “Blister In The Sun”. Video via YouTube user cstoltze

-Eric

Ray LaMontagne at Fort Stage

Or should we say Ray LaMorning Jacket? The “Jacket Boys”, as Ray called them, were just as much of an attraction for this set as Ray was himself. With a set comprised mostly of tunes from his last two records, LaMontagne was all business and barely spoke between songs, but let his music do the talking instead. An incredible live vocal performance from LaMontagne and ripping solos from the “Jacket Boys” throughout made this set one of the highlights of the weekend.

-Eric

Flight of the Conchords

Though some of the comedy duo’s songs may have pushed the envelope for Newport’s family vibe (see”Too Many Dicks (On The Dance Floor)” and “Business Time”), the majority of the crowd still got their fair share of hearty laughs from the performance. Fans of their HBO show were certainly pleased with song selections like “Bowie In Space” and “Prince of Parties,” but their new tracks and between-songs-banter probably got even more laughs.

-Eric

Saturday July 23

Rayland Baxter at Fort Stage

A perfect way to start Day 2, Rayland has certainly come into his own performing with a full band, and that was prominently on display early Saturday morning. Extended jam sessions on songs like “All In My Head” and set closer “End to Come” were highlights, but what was most impressive was the dynamic setlist and his ability to keep the whole crowd captivated throughout.

-Eric

The Texas Gentlemen and Friends at Quad Stage

Led by Beau Bedford, the Texan collective brought some of the more country-leaning folk music to this year’s lineup. Each band member was a stellar player and performer in their own right, but the moment everyone will be talking about was when the “and Friends” portion of the billing turned into Kris Kristofferson and Margo Price performing “Me and Bobby McGee.” One of those hallmark Newport moments that hardly happen anywhere else. Video via YouTube user cstoltze

-Eric

Father John Misty at Quad Stage

I think Caroline put it perfectly when she called Josh Tillman a “trollbadour,” as his solo acoustic set was filled with jabs at fellow festival performers like Brittany Howard and Graham Nash. The former may have been warranted (see this cringeworthy Chipotle ad with Howard and, it pains me to say it, Jim James), but picking on a sweet old man like Graham Nash is another story. All trolling aside Tillman certainly kept the crowd engaged with his one man show of music, social commentary, and comedy. The only thing that was missing was an on-stage boxing match between him and Ryan Adams to settle their 1989 pseud0-fued.

-Eric

Sunday July 24

River Whyless at Quad Stage

The Asheville quartet kicked off the festival’s final day with a bang and I wouldn’t be surprised if it earns them an invite back to the Fort next year. They created epic soundscapes on songs like “Pigeon Feathers” and “Widows Walk” from their 2012 debut LP, and also got the crowd moving with their new single “All Day All Night.” To close out their impressive set they brought out Kam Franklin from The Suffers to perform a cover of Billy Brag & Wilco’s version of Woody Guthrie’s “Airline to Heaven,” bringing everyone to their feet.

-Eric

Glen Hansard at Fort Stage

When the Irishman opened his set with The Swell Season classic “Falling Slowly” we knew we were in for quite the treat. Hansard’s passion is so raw and you can feel the emotion in his voice with every word he sings so that made songs like The Swell Season’s “When Your Minds Made Up” and Woody Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man” all the more powerful. Not to mention guest appearances by Elvis Costello, Jocie Adams, and trombonist Curtis Fowlkes throughout the set. In true Newport fashion Hansard closed out his set by inviting a fellow Irishman up from the crowd to sing a verse of Brendan Behan’s classic Irish drinking tune “The Auld Triangle,” along with Costello, Adams, and Fowlkes. See full video below including said random Irish dude in the plaid shirt and fast forward to 2:20 to see his featured verse. Video via Anthony Mulcahy aka THE DUDE IN THE VIDEO.

-Eric

Middle Brother at Fort Stage

Vasquez, Goldsmith, and McCauley made their triumphant return to the Fort on the five year anniversary of their debut and certainly did not disappoint. Playing their entire self-titled album and joined by guests like Kam Franklin, Shovels & Rope, and Jonny Fritz, their main stage set was certainly a highlight for all of the festival faithful in attendance. “Million Dollar Bill” served to be the perfect ending to a joyous set with each of the three frontmen taking a verse and leaving us hoping for another reunion in the near future.

-Eric

Elvis Costello at Fort Stage

Elvis seemed to pick up where Patti Smith left off: critiquing the establishment, yet through beauty, not hate (best evidenced by new ballad, “American Mirror”). Costello took NFF Producer Jay Sweet’s decree of “love each other” to heart in more ways than one, as he invited about half of Sunday’s performers on stage with him. Flanked by Larkin Poe, the Preservation Jazz Hall Band, Dawes, Villagers, and more, Costello provided us with the cathartic gang’s-all-here singalong we needed to close out the weekend.

-Caroline

Green River Festival 2016 Recap

Posted on by Mark Schafer in Concert Review | Leave a comment
Photo by Mark Schafer

Photo by Mark Schafer

The 2016 edition of the Green River Festival in Greenfield, MA was a triumphant weekend for the festival, this being its 30th anniversary. Having grown from what one festival organizer described as a “half-assed balloon festival” in the 1980s, Green River is now firmly established as one of the top music festivals in New England (and one of the highlights of my summer).

The weather for the weekend looked threatening, and while heading west from Boston to the Pioneer Valley, it seemed like a big part of the weekend might be washed out by thunderstorms. Thankfully, the lightning held off and despite quite a bit of rain throughout the weekend, everything went ahead as scheduled except for the hot air balloon rides, which were the main casualty of the weather.
On Friday, the rains held off for an evening of world music and nostalgic jams from NRBQ and Peter Wolf, while Sunday felt more like a one-day jam band festival featuring the Wheels of Soul Tour lineup Tedeschi Trucks Band, Los Lobos, and the North Mississippi All Stars. For me though, Saturday was very much the centerpiece of the whole weekend.
Starting with a short set from Lula Wiles on the main stage and ending with a blowout of a set by Dawes, every set I saw the entire day was remarkable. Ranging from local favorites like And The Kids, established favorites such as Shakey Graves and up-and-comers like The Suffers, there were more highlights than I could possibly cover in this article. Suffice it to say that a group of people just old enough to be cynical about music festivals with a baby in tow still had a fantastic time despite some dreary weather.
Here are a few of my favorite sets from the weekend:

Oh Pep!

Booked on the third stage, overlapping with The Suffers and The Felice Brothers, and performing during a downpour, Oh Pep! didn’t have the most advantageous spot of the weekend. Despite the challenging circumstances, there was a small but rapt crowd gathered for the duration of their set. They weren’t on my radar going in, but I was super glad to make their set and I put their new album Stadium Cake in my rotation as soon as I got back from the festival. A four-piece anchored by original members Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs, they play poppy indie rock with a bit of folk influence thrown in (Emmerichs plays fiddle and mandolin). I currently can’t get the “I know what I want and it’s not what I need” chorus from their song “Doctor Doctor” out of my head, but I’m not sure I want to.

Shovels & Rope

Shovels & Rope came on just after Oh Pep! during the rainiest part of the day. The covered main stage seemed to provide little shelter for the husband-and-wife duo of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, who were singing at the top of their lungs with water flying out of their wet hair. The driving rain changed from a nuisance to a positive, only adding to the intensity of an already intense set. While I’ve been a fan of Shovels & Rope for a long time now, this set really cemented my respect for them as performers and they have jumped up several spots on my list of favorite bands.

Birds of Chicago

Coming off 12 hours in the rain on Saturday, it was a bit challenging to gather the energy for another day with rain in the forecast. But with a sunny start to the day and a short, packed schedule it was pretty easy to get excited once we arrived back on the grounds on Sunday. I caught Birds of Chicago on the second stage early in the afternoon, and they seemed to hold off the rain through sheer joy and revived everyone out of their soggy stupor with their gospel-inspired sound. Clarinet, hand claps and foot stomps accented singer Allison Russel’s soulful vocals, keeping me glued to the second stage despite competition from the North Mississippi All Stars.

July Spotify Playlist of the Month

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Maimed & Tamed Spotify Playlist of the Month July 2016

It’s hot as hell in New York City today, so what better way to take you into the weekend than with a fresh batch of hot new jams straight out of the oven. This month our playlist features new songs from 35 artists including Wye Oak, Band of Horses, My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel, The Low Anthem, Flume and even a little treat for all of you Game of Thrones fans out there (that finale though).

Check out the full playlist below and remember to subscribe for new tunes every month.

Green River Festival Preview

Posted on by Mark Schafer in Concert Preview | Leave a comment

Green River Festival 2016

Somehow festival season is now upon us and we’re getting ready to head out to central Massachusetts this weekend for the Green River Festival in Greenfield, MA. Last year was my very first time at Green River, and it was one of the highlights of my summer.

With this year’s lineup the Green River Festival certainly punches above its weight with acts like Dawes, Shakey Graves, The Felice Brothers, Los Lobos, Peter Wolf (of the J. Geils Band) and Tedeschi Trucks Band topping the bill. What’s great about Green River is it’s got more than enough talent and star power to make your friends jealous of your weekend, but it’s small and laid-back enough that you can actually enjoy yourself. And somehow there are still tickets left if this post is making you want to come join in on the fun this weekend.

Beyond the obvious highlights of the weekend (you’re going to catch Shovels & Rope RIGHT?) here are a few acts slightly lower on the lineup that we’re especially excited to check out:

The Suffers

In just the last two years, the Suffers have gone from local bar band playing gigs around Houston to playing one of David Letterman’s last episodes of The Late Show and Newport Folk Festival. I recently had the opportunity to see them open for Lake Street Dive, and the Suffers basically stole the show. That’s no small feat, because L.S.D. are one of the very best live bands out there. The ten-piece bands churns out tight and funky “gulf coast soul”, and lead singer Kam Franklin was clearly born to be a star. It’s infectious, and you can’t help but having a hell of a good time. Do not miss this set under any circumstances.

Lula Wiles

It’s so tempting to overlook the bands playing the first sets at music festivals and show up later on in the afternoon. Lula Wiles, playing first thing on Saturday, are a perfect example of why you’re completely blowing it by sleeping in. Well-known to aficionados of Boston’s sprawling folk scene, Lula Wiles picks from bluegrass, old-time and country without being a niche folk act. Seriously, if you’re into gorgeous tunes and harmonies in any genre, it’s well worth your while to arrive a bit early and catch this set.

Winterpills

This was a new discovery for me as I’ve been getting ready for the summer with a Green River playlist on Spotify. Made up of veterans of the Northampton, MA music scene, Winterpills stand out as straightforward radio-ready pop rock band in the jam/funk-heavy Sunday lineup. I’ve had “Celia Johnson” running through my head on and off for days, and so you will after you throw it on once. Definitely a set that shouldn’t be missed this weekend.

The Balloons

Okay fine, this isn’t a band, but it’s one of the cooler features of the fest. Green River began as a hot air balloon festival 30 years ago, and while it’s easy to dismiss the balloons as something “just for the kids”, there’s nothing quite like watching gigantic glowing orbs rising into the sky shortly after dusk during an outdoor musical performance. You kind of just have to be there to get it.

Keeping Newport Weird: Three Folk Fest Acts We Can’t Wait For

Posted on by Caroline in Newport Folk Festival Spotlight | Leave a comment

Father John Misty

Newport Folk Fest has a history of perfectly curating its weirdness. The weekend is always punctuated with truly unique, unexpected acts, and they’re often the ones we remember the most. We’ve been entranced by world acts like Bombino, awed by the DIY polyrhythms of tUnE-yArDs, and kinda terrified by Reignwolf’s primal shredding. Below are a few acts likely to join these rare ranks at Newport Folk this year.

Raury on Friday July 22

On Twitter, Raury identifies himself as “coconut oil papi ☯.” Please take a moment with that. We are working with a quintessential bb of the internet here, and them youngsters are all about embracing their strange. The twenty-year-old’s two albums pull from a grab bag of genres, ranging from rap to trap to soul to folk, naturally. This chaotic blend of influences mixed with Raury’s self-assured star power guarantees an unmissable set. Based on Raury’s prior shows, prepare for: crowdsurfing, his pausing the show for ten minutes to hand out free vinyl, social justice rants, and just maybe a cameo from collaborator and NFF alum, Tom Morello.

Basia Bulat on Friday July 22

Basia Bulat’s instrument of choice has long been the autoharp, which is definitely up there in terms of indie cred (especially ever since the ukulele jumped the shark). But on her latest album, Good Advice, she dresses up her harp and other folksy sensibilities with a new experimental energy and sound. Bulat’s latest now sports resonant drums and electro-pop synths, providing a startling freshness that had me quickly committed to stopping by her set. Let it not be a surprise that the otherworldly yet precise production on Good Advice was helmed by none other than Jim James of My Morning Jacket, which gives us all the more reason to A. listen to her new tunes B. plan for some magical guest appearances on stage.

Father John Misty on Saturday July 23

I’d give FJM the freak folk crown right now if I had to declare its fearless leader. Father John Misty a.k.a. Josh Tillman has already blessed us with a set at Newport in 2013, which was charged and awkward and beautiful and featured much mom dancing. Since then, Tillman has only doubled down on his flamboyant troubadour stage act, one that won’t fit in at the Fort as much as it will stand out. Tillman is billed to perform solo this year, which has me both curious and wary (were we not promised a mariachi band?), but given his reputation as one of today’s best songwriters and biggest liabilities, I’ll be there to witness his singular presence, no questions asked.

There are many exciting, unusual acts to look forward to at the Fort this year. Your time is precious, so I only wrote about three. Who did I miss? Let us know in the comments.

May/June Spotify Megamix

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Maimed & Tamed Spotify Playlist of the Month May/June 2016

So you’re going to judge us for not putting out a May playlist? Take it up with the cow. Don’t fret, since we still love all of you we’re back in business with our biggest playlist yet, the 70-track May/June Megamix. We had to fit so many incredible jams into one playlist so you’ll hear new ones from M&T mainstays like Har Mar Superstar, You Won’t, Frightened Rabbit, and Grey Season, mixed in with newcomers like Baba Sonya, Japanese Breakfast, The Wild Reeds and many more. There’s even a previously unreleased b-side from My Morning Jacket’s deluxe reissue of It Still Moves, so it’s safe to say there’s a little something for everyone.

Check out the full playlist below and remember to subscribe for new tunes every month.

Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: The 5 Most Intriguing Sets From the 2016 Lineup

Posted on by Eric in Newport Folk Festival Spotlight | Leave a comment

Newport Folk Festival 2016

With the lineup set for this year’s festival we take a look at the 5 most intriguing sets and raise a lot of questions that will hopefully be answered next month at the Fort.

Ryan Adams with The Infamous Stringdusters featuring Nicki Bluhm on Saturday July 23

Adams makes his triumphant return to the Fort, but this time with The Infamous Stringdusters and Nicki Bluhm in tow. This is sure to be an interesting set mainly because Adams can be so unpredictable when it comes to song selection on any given night, but pair that with a brand new backing band and it’s anybody’s guess. The collaboration with the Stringdusters and Bluhm suggests he’ll be exploring the twangier side of his catalog, but here’s one far-out theory– Heartbreaker. Adams put out a deluxe reissue of his seminal album this year and this backing band would be a perfect fit on tracks like “Come Pick Me Up”, “To Be Young”, and “My Winding Wheel” among others.

Middle Brother on Sunday July 24

First let me say that I hope and pray that this set will be at the Quad Stage for old time’s sake. Knowing Newport and their reverence for even recent history, I think it would be quite fitting to put the Middle Bro boys back where it all started in 2011. Everyone loves a good reunion, a supergroup reunion especially, but what makes this set most intriguing to us is the potential of new Middle Brother music. Could there be a follow-up to their 5-year old eponymous debut on the horizon?

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats on Saturday July 23

At the 2015 festival Rateliff and co. seamlessly transformed their now mega-hit “S.O.B.” into a cover of The Band’s “The Shape I’m In” featuring a ripping guitar solo from J Mascis and we proclaimed that big things would be coming from the band after a performance like that. Last year the band seemed immediately at home at the Fort and we’re interested to see what collaborations they might have up their sleeves during their second year as part of the Newport fam.

Matthew Logan Vasquez on Friday July 22

Of course the focus will be on his impressive debut solo LP, Solicitor Returns, but think of all the potential for collaborations from this lineup. McCauley and Goldsmith are shoe-ins to make an appearance, and knowing Vasquez’s flair for delivering one-of-a-kind performances I’d say it’s a safe bet to expect at least a few other faces from the lineup to make an appearance.

Elvis Costello on Sunday July 24

With Taylor Goldsmith scheduled to make an appearance with Middle Brother on Sunday, might we see him join Costello on stage to perform some material from The New Basement Tapes? Will Elvis put in a call to Jim James to join in on the Dylan revival? Could that lead to another unannounced My Morning Jacket set with the rest of the MMJ boys already scheduled to appear with Ray LaMontagne? So many questions, not enough answers.

Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Villagers

Posted on by Eric in Newport Folk Festival Spotlight | 1 Comment

Newport Folk Festival Spotlight - Villagers

Back in 2010, while on a study abroad trip, I became slightly obsessed with Later… with Jools Holland. Instead of doing what little work was required of me during that semester (sorry Mom and Dad), I spent most of my downtime scouring the internet for videos from the late-night BBC Two show. It was during one of these trips down a YouTube rabbit hole that I discovered an unassuming, boyish solo performer who went by the name Villagers. To this day I distinctly remember sitting in my tiny London apartment, clicking onto the video for his performance of “Becoming A Jackal,” and immediately being drawn in. I was absolutely floored and in awe of how one man could command an audience with such a performance. His wild-eyed gaze was locked into the camera for nearly the whole song and his delivery of each word was so precise and deliberate that it made me feel like he was singing directly to me each time he repeated the song’s refrain, “I’m selling you my fears.” Of course now that Villagers has been added to the Newport Folk Festival lineup, and I have an excuse to blog about this 6 year-old video, it seemingly no longer exists on the internet…WHY ARE YOU SO CRUEL INTERNET?!

Since that fateful performance O’Brien has released two studio albums and another live record under the Villagers moniker. 2013’s {Awayland} saw O’Brien experiment with different sounds and arrangements whereas its follow-up, 2015’s Darling Arithmetic, was back to basics with most songs featuring only an acoustic guitar, piano, and O’Brien’s beautifully breathy vocals. Villagers is certainly an under the radar addition to this year’s lineup, but not one that should be under-appreciated. If anyone can find that video from Later… please, please, please post it in the comments, but until then the performance below will just have to do.

April Spotify Playlist of the Month

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M&T Spotify Playlist of the Month April 2016

Another 50 song playlist comin’ at ya this month featuring plenty of new music to be excited about from Har Mar Superstar, Peter Bjorn and John, Deep Sea Diver, You Won’t, Soft Fangs, Great Caesar, and many many more.

Check out all those artists and more on the full playlist below and remember to subscribe for new tunes every month.