Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Pinegrove


Newport Folk Festival 2017 is just under three months away, so what better time to kick off our annual NFF Spotlight series featuring artists Read More

June Spotify Playlist of the Month


What goes better together than avocados and indie music? Maybe PBRs and a fixed gear bike? Well, we're not here to argue, but we Read More

Making Newport Dangerous Again: Predictions for NFF’s Speak Out Set


On May 4th, Newport Folk quietly announced “Speak Out,” a set scheduled for Sunday evening, just before the headliner. Not much has been officially Read More

Cross Country Songbook: The Ralston Listening Library

Posted on by Eric in Cross Country Songbook | 2 Comments

The Ralston Listening LibraryWhat if I told you there was a place that was designed for the sole purpose of listening to vinyl records and hi-def digital recordings? Not just some hobbyist’s mancave, but a place where every single aspect of the room is designed with acoustics in mind. When I say every aspect I mean that even the way the concrete was poured during construction of the room was done so in a way to make the room more acoustically pleasing. This is a place where not only the chairs themselves, but the position of each chair within the room is meticulously designed and decided upon so as to accommodate the most pristine listening experience. What is this place you ask? Heaven? Nay it is but The William Ralston Listening Library at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennnessee.

As part of my Cross Country Songbook journey I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Ralston Library and basking in all of its audio glory earlier this week. I set up an appointment with one of the library’s curators and experts, a former Sewanee student named Ryan Currie who was incredibly knowledgable about the room, the equipment, and the collection of music housed there. Ryan explained how the collection of over 16,000 vinyl records was donated primarily by two former University English professors– Father William Ralston and Charles Harrison, with the former contributing nearly 80% of the aforementioned 16,000 records and the latter about 15% of the total collection. He also detailed how a current University English professor, Tam Carlson, spearheaded the private fundraising efforts to actually build the room and hire audio and design consultants to create the unrivaled listening experience that Ralston and Harrison dreamed of when they left their respective collections to the school.

After learning about the history of the room it was time to take the equipment for a spin. I was a bit overwhelmed by the selection of music at my disposal, so I asked Ryan if he could make any recommendations for a good starting point. Since the majority of the vinyl collection is classical music, Ryan chose a recording of Mozart’s Requiem to start things off. What I heard as soon as the needle dropped was simply astounding. Even though there were only two stacks of speakers positioned at the front of the room, I could hear the music coming at me from all directions. It was startling at first and a bit of a mind game since I expected the sound to come only from the direction where I saw the actual speakers, but that’s far from the case in a room like the Ralston Library. This sensation was what Ryan described as a “shimmer and dispersion effect” created by the paneling within the room which results in aural waterfall flowing around you from all angles.

Once I adjusted to the auditory experience I discussed the library’s contemporary collection with Ryan and made a few selections of my own to listen to. Here are the songs that we explored:

The Beatles – “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”

I started off my selections with one of my favorite Beatles tunes and the speakers in the Ralston Library breathed a whole new life into the song for me, mostly due to the intensity of Lennon’s lead guitar line and how sinister, and frankly frightening, these speakers made it sound.

James Blake – “The Wilhelm Scream”

The intricacy of this recording, and specifically the panning of its different sounds, was highly intensified through the room’s speakers. It felt almost as if the sounds were bouncing and darting across every crevice of the room and not just existing in the two speakers that were in front of me.

Radiohead – “Bodysnatchers” + “Videotape”

Everyone knows how much care and effort that Radiohead puts into their recording process and when you listen to their music in a million dollar listening room you appreciate the band’s thoughtful approach to the recording process that much more.

Duke Ellington – “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”

Even though this selection was recorded live at Carnegie Hall in the ’40s it still sounded incredible to hear that big band sound on this system even if the original recording wasn’t the greatest quality.

London Symphony Orchestra – “Star Wars Main Theme”

When I saw this vinyl hanging out in the soundtrack section of the collection I just had to do it, and oh am I glad I did. I don’t think that I have ever heard a recorded brass section sound so crisp and so present in my life.

Jimi Hendrix – “Are You Experienced”

Yes Jimi, after sitting in that room for two hours I certainly am.

If you ever find yourself even remotely near Sewanee, Tennessee I cannot stress enough how highly I recommend setting up an appointment to visit the Ralston Listening Library. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and may well lead to me maxing out a ridiculous amount of credit cards to finance a similar setup for my Brooklyn apartment. A kid can dream right?

Cross Country Songbook: My Morning Jacket Live at BJCC Concert Hall 8/10/2015

Posted on by Eric in Concert Review, Cross Country Songbook | Leave a comment

My Morning Jacket at BJCC Concert Hall 8/10/2015

I’ve been to nearly 30 My Morning Jacket shows, but last night in Birmingham at the BJCC Concert Hall was a new experience for me with it being my first solo MMJ show. Once I arrived in Birmingham after a short drive from Nashville, I headed to the Avondale Brewing Company to get rid of those pre-show jitters. The brewery, who have quite a selection of delicious beers, also sports a pretty amazing backyard concert venue themselves. After downing a few Spring Street Saisons and making friends with fellow MMJ concert-goers at the brewery, I knew I had nothing to worry about for my first solo show.

Once I arrived at the venue, opener Mini Mansions had already taken the stage as the crowd was beginning to filter in. Though there was loud chatter throughout the set as fans were getting settled in their seats, it didn’t phase the band at all. They played their two most well-known songs, “Vertigo” and “Any Emotions”, back-to-back and judging from the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm it was very clear that everyone was strictly there for the main event. Don’t let that give you the wrong idea about Mini Mansions’ set though, they were very clearly pros (frontman Michael Shuman does play in Queens of the Stone Age after all) and in a mid-sized club headlining setting they would kill.

Like I mentioned though, everyone was eagerly anticipating the main event and as soon as the lights went down the crowd exploded into uproarious cheers. We’ve said it a million times before and we’ll say it again, one of the best things about this band is that you never know what you’re going to get from the setlist night after night. Last night’s show was no exception as the band chose “The Dark” as their opener, a move that immediately recalled their Forecastle Festival headlining set back in 2012 where they employed the same tune to kick things off. From there the band led us on a journey through their full discography, hitting on tracks from each of their seven albums over the course of the night. Highlights included Carl Broemel busting out the sax on “First Light”, an incredibly epic version of “Dondante”, pulling out “They Ran” from the depths of The Tennessee Fire, and  At Dawn‘s “Strangulation,” which is one of my personal favorites and is always a treat to hear performed live.

Throughout the evening Jim James was in complete control of the crowd, even interacting with nearly everyone in the first row with some weird ET-esque forefinger touching going on that only James could make look cool. It had been quite sometime since I’d seen MMJ indoors and one redeeming quality about that experience is the band’s light show. Perfectly timed and an element that helps to elevate MMJ’s songs to the next level, if that’s even possible.

The show was a great way to prepare for Friday’s Red Rocks performance and I have to commend the Birmingham crowd for bringing such high levels of energy to a show on a Monday night. Check out the full setlist below from last night’s show until we meet again at Red Rocks on Friday.

1. The Dark

2. Compound Fracture

3. Off The Record

4. First Light

5. Wordless Chorus

6. In Its Infancy

7. They Ran

8. Strangulation

9. Like A River

10. Believe

11. Tropics

12. Circuital

13. Dondante

14. Spring

15. Mahgeeta

Encore

16. Hopefully

17. Touch Me I’m Going To Scream, Pt. 2

18. Victory Dance

19. One Big Holiday

Album Review: Langhorne Slim & The Law – The Spirit Moves

Posted on by Ryan Schmitz in Album Review | Leave a comment

Langhorne Slim & The Law - The Spirit Moves

Fans of Sean Scolnick have waited a long time to read the following words… Langhorne Slim & The Law have finally put out a new album!  It has been years since the last record and now at long last The Spirit Moves has arrived.

The storied foot-stomper from Pennsylvania has waited a very long time since The Way We Move dropped in 2012, but not a lot has changed.  The Spirit Moves brings the same level of raw intensity mixed with the classic vulnerability expected out of one of this generations most dynamic singer-songwriters.  Overall The Spirit Moves may be Slim’s most complete work to date.  There is more than enough movement to be found in the up tempo tunes, but the real soul is found in the lighter tracks.

The album opens up strong and fast with the title track “Spirit Moves.” Scolnick reminds us right away exactly the kind of musician he is, brining the same heartfelt Americana flavor that has permeated his career from the first second of the record.  From there he moves seamlessly from low tempo ballads to foot stompers.  All of which come with the usual sincerity and intensity that one can expect with a Langhorne Slim original.

The album hits a high point at track six with “Life’s a Bell,” an R&B ballad with a horn lead crescendo reminiscent of the conclusion to “Hey Jude.”  From there the album moves to “Wolves,” a folksier tune carried by a strong beat and some of the most personal lyrics of the album.  The song is a conversation, where Slim opens up and describes himself in vulnerable detail.  While there are a few folk ballads the rhythm and blues vibes don’t ever really stop.  Right after “Wolves” comes “Bring You My Love,” and with it, a return to the bluesier feel from earlier.  Fueled by electric piano, there is a classic R&B tone accompanied by Selnick’s haunting vocals.

The Spirit Moves is full of twists and turns, constantly toeing the line between folk, the blues, and up-tempo Americana.  It’s that sort of genre-bending melting pot music that Langhorne Slim & The Law have built up a reputation for, but really needs to be listened to before it can be properly understood.  Just when you think you have a feel for the direction the record is going they change it on you in the next track.  At the end, what you’re left with is an absolutely complete album, all the sound you expect to hear is there, but with plenty of growth and maturity included.  The themes of honesty and vulnerability throughout the album are complimented perfectly by the sonic ambiguity.  The music can come off light and fun or heavy and brooding, and one can never really be sure when the shifts will happen.

Langhorne Slim & The Law are currently on a cross country tour and will return to the North East in mid-September for dates at The Sinclair in Cambridge [Tickets] and The Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn [Tickets].

Cross Country Songbook: Setting Out

Posted on by Eric in Cross Country Songbook, Playlists | Leave a comment

Cross Country Songbook: Setting Out

As we drive from Brooklyn to Nashville on the initial leg of this journey, we bring you our first M&T curated playlist for the Cross Country Songbook. This playlist, entitled Setting Out, aims to capture the swirl of reflective, yet hopeful emotions we’re feeling as we hit the road, along with a handful of tunes that are perfect companions for a long highway drive. Read on below to find out why each song was included and make sure to listen/subscribe to the full playlist via Spotify at the bottom of the page.

The Decemberists – “A Beginning Song”

When I started thinking about leaving everything behind and hitting the road for 7 weeks, this is the first song that came to mind, and it doesn’t hurt either that the title is quite fitting.

Built to Spill – “Strange”

“This strange plan is random at best,” is what I imagine everyone is thinking when I tell them about this project.

Peter Bjorn and John – “Objects Of My Affection”

The chorus is a perfect reflection of the apprehension and subsequent reassurance I’ve felt about this trip over the past few weeks.

Rogue Wave – “Harmonium”

This song has been by my side on so many road trips over the years that it wouldn’t have felt right without it making an appearance on this playlist.

Tall Heights – “Eastern Standard Time”

An ode to the time zone I’ll be missing for the next 7 weeks.

New Order – “Age of Consent”

This one is not only a classic, but it’s also dying to be in the opening credits of an angsty road trip flick, amiright?

Delta Spirit – “Bushwick Blues”

Because it’s sad to be leaving Brooklyn behind, but also because it’s a damn good driving song.

Good Times Cocaine – “Back To You”

Another damn good driving song with a Brooklyn connection.

Doves – “Pounding”

The pulsating beat sets the driving pace on the highway, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they wrote the lyrics for this one in the midst of a long road trip.

Futurebirds – “Wild Heart”

This version from the Athens, GA rockers basically trims Stevie Nicks’ original down to just its chorus, which is the perfect fit for a long drive with the windows down.

Need Music?

August Spotify Playlist of the Month

Posted on by Eric in Playlists | Leave a comment

Maimed & Tamed August 2015 Spotify Playlist

It might feel like summer is slipping away, but fear not, we’ve got 40 new tunes to keep your spirits up as the warm weather winds down. This month’s playlist features plenty of familiar faces like Ben Folds, City and Colour, and Diet Cig along with fresh faces such as Bad Bad Hats, Gordi, and Vince Staples. Not to mention plenty of Boston love from Darlingside, These Wild Plains, Philadelphia Collins, Caspian, Funeral Advantage, and Vundabar. Check out all those artists and more on the full playlist below and remember to subscribe for new tunes every month.

Maimed & Tamed Presents: Cross Country Songbook

Posted on by Eric in Cross Country Songbook | Leave a comment
Artwork by Paul Rollinger

Artwork by Paul Rollinger

After years of covering our beloved Boston, and now Brooklyn music scenes, we decided it was time to take Maimed & Tamed on the road. During August and September we will be traveling across these great United States to bring you the Cross Country Songbook. Now you’re probably thinking, what’s a Cross Country Songbook? Glad you asked. As we travel from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and back we’ll be stopping in various cities along the way to learn more about local music scenes. In addition to presenting playlists and travel recommendations from our local liaisons in each city, the M&T crew will also be curating a series of playlists inspired by the landscape and scenery we pass through as we drive between each stop.

In each city we’ll be asking our local liaisons to provide two things for our readers:

  1. Curate a playlist that embodies their local indie music scene. The songs could be by bands who are currently playing the local circuit, legacy acts who helped to shape what the scene is today, or a mix of both. We want you, the readers, to experience the city through the eyes (or ears) of a local.
  2. Tell our readers about their favorite spots in town, music related or otherwise. It could be their favorite record store, the DIY venue where everyone in the know goes for shows, the go-to late-night eatery, the new art gallery everyone is talking about, etc. This project is intended to appeal to everyone out there on the internet who is interested in both music and travel. For each location we visit we want to leave you the readers with some ideas for unique places to check out if you’re ever in that city.

We’ll be documenting our journey here and on social media so make sure you subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And since hashtags are so in these days you’ll be able to find all of our posts with #CrossCountrySongbook too. While you’re at it give a follow to the one and only Mr. Paul Rollinger who created the wonderful artwork above.

If you or anyone you know would like to get involved in the project send an email to yours truly at eric[at]maimedandtamed.com with ‘Cross Country Songbook’ in the subject. We’ll be stopping in all the cities below and would be willing to make a detour if you promise us cool bands and a couch to crash on.

Nashville

Birmingham

Dallas

Santa Fe

Denver

Salt Lake City

Seattle

Portland

San Francisco

Los Angeles

The Scene at Newport Folk Festival

Posted on by Ryan Schmitz in Newport Folk Festival Recap | Leave a comment
Photo by Tess O'Connor

Photo by Tess O’Connor

There ain’t no doubt in no one’s mind that the Newport Folk Festival is first and foremost about the music.  The 56 year old festival has seen some historic things, one of which celebrated its 50 year anniversary this past Sunday, as seemingly every performer ever took the stage to “go electric,” excluding Dylan of course.  The music is not the only palpable force at play when one enters the old sailing town positioned right at the Southern tip of Aquidneck Island.  Any festival goer can attest, Newport is not just a festival, it is a scene.

You can see it as you cross over the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge, the Fort, the old fashioned town, and of course the harbor.  From the second you first catch that view, you know that a good time lies ahead.  Every year in late July music fans from around the world flock to the town’s inns, hotels, and in my case, family members’ couches in order to take part in the time honored tradition that is the folk festival.  And while it’s easy to get caught up in the party, sometimes it’s nice to try and take in the surroundings that you’ve somehow found yourself in.

If you didn’t manage to get yourself a ticket to get into Fort Adams, all is not lost, find yourself a friend or family member with a boat and you’re golden.  This is where the party truly lies, anchored just off the rocky beach of the fort.  Because while the lucky ticket holders may be taking in the sights or traveling from stage to stage, the boat goers are doing just about whatever the hell they want.  From rafting up 7 boats deep to paddle-boarding with a beer stocked cooler as a lawn chair, the water crowd at the festival were having almost too good of a time.

Some people may be saying, “Ryan I came for the groovy tunes man, not some loud annoying party.”  Well anonymous music snob, I am equally pretentious and I thought that people yelling and chugging beer would get in the way of my spiritual connection with whoever was up on stage.  Luckily for me any sort of passive aggressive retaliatory response was never needed because once the music got started everyone remembered exactly why they were there.  This was never more apparent then when James Taylor took the stage, and this is not the biased ramblings of the self-proclaimed “world’s most dedicated James Taylor fan.”  When he sat down and played the opening notes to “Sweet Baby James” the people of the Aqua-Squad not only shut up, but actually clamored for the best spot to watch JT do his thing, it was truly an awe inspiring moment.

Photo by Tess O'Connor

Photo by Tess O’Connor

One of the coolest parts about the festival is that once the day was technically over, you could go to one of the local bars and find yourself watching one of the performers step up and jam.  Every second of that weekend was about the music, the party was always secondary, though it was still very easy to find.  Walking down Lower Thames was like walking through the festival all over again.  You could find old hippies in tie-dye shirts with bald heads and pony-tails chatting up frat boys about how good The Barr Brothers sounded, and make no mistake they sounded AMAZING.  The point is Newport is not just for the folkies or fans of the indie scene.  You don’t need to be a card carrying hipster or a hippie who can’t stop talking about “the good old days” to enjoy it.  Really, all you need is a love of music and the good time will be had for you.

Newport Folk Festival 2015 Recap

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

Photo by Andrew Cleak

The M&T crew had a wild and wonderful weekend at Fort Adams and we’ve chosen some of our favorite sets from this year’s Newport Folk Festival to share with you. Once again Newport proved why it’s such a magical place with once-in-a-lifetime performances from My Morning Jacket and Lucius backing Roger Waters to everyone who is anyone paying tribute to Bob Dylan in the hullabaloo that was ’65 Revisited. Now we begin counting down the days until next July and wondering what special surprises Newport will have in store for us in 2016.

Friday July 24

Hiss Golden Messenger @ Harbor Stage

A great example of stumbling upon a set you didn’t intend to see and having that band blow your mind. Hiss Golden Messenger’s bluesy jam vibes were perfect for a sunny Newport afternoon.

-Eric

Strand of Oaks @ Harbor Stage

We billed them as one of our most anticipated acts of the weekend and they did not disappoint. Timothy Showalter and co. knew exactly how to get the Newport crowd going and clearly understood the essence of the festival by expressing some very heartfelt sentiments to the crowd before launching into the slow burning ballad “Plymouth” from the band’s breakthrough album HEAL.

-Eric

Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell @ Quad Stage

A magical friendship reignited after 15 years. Iron & Wine (Sam Beam) and Ben Bridwell took control of the Quad Stage a little after 4 on Friday. The two musicians knew each other well during their formative years in South Carolina and they have kept in touch through letters and cassettes ever since. Although their careers took off on opposite sides of the country they haven’t forgot the songs that bound them together over so many miles. Inside the fort, Bridwell and Beam delighted the crowd with an entrancing rendition of Pete Seeger’s “Coyote, My Little Brother” from their new all-covers LP,Sing Into My Mouth. The set also included versions of Band of Horses classics “General Specific” and “No One’s Gonna Love You.”

-Kyle

My Morning Jacket/Roger Waters @ Fort Stage

We don’t even know what to say that could possibly explain how magical this set was. Look at the combined setlist and then try to pick your jaw up off the floor. Newport has gained a reputation as a hotbed for on-stage collaborations, but this was even more special since MMJ performed their own set and then backed Waters for all of his, which effectively made them dual headliners for the evening. For Waters Newport was a logical launching point for an upcoming tour due to its historic roots as a hub for protest and a platform for artists to speak their mind. Guiding the crowd through a stunning setlist of Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan and John Prine hits, Waters commanded the stage while being joined by additional stars such as G.E. Smith, Lucius, Sara Watkins and Amy Helm. We’re not gonna lie, we may have shed a few tears during the “Forever Young” finale.

-Eric + Trev

Saturday July 25

Traveller @ Quad Stage

We’ve been huge fans of Jonny Fritz aka Jonny Corndawg aka @dadcountry since his legendary stint with Middle Brother at Newport ‘11, so we had high hopes for his new project, Traveller. It didn’t disappoint (despite the fact that the band had only begun rehearsing together two weeks ago). Fritz was ever the entertainer (guy really needs his own variety show) while Robert Ellis made his electric guitar sing, but most importantly, we discovered their track “Hummingbird.” It’s basically “Meet Virginia” for the internet age, and it’s the best music discovery I made all weekend. (Evidenced by some moderately disturbing search results, it’s not yet available online, but we’ll link to it as soon as it is.)

-Caroline

The Barr Brothers @ Fort Stage

These brothers and their band from Montreal via Rhode Island were another act we told readers to keep an eye on heading into the festival. The band blew everyone away with back-to-back epic jam sections on “Come In The Water” and “Half Crazy,” but the best moment may have been when frontman Brad Barr told the story of his parents’ first date where they snuck into Newport Folk Festival to see Arlo Guthrie. Another perfect example of how Newport is so much more than just a music festival.

-Eric

Photo by Tess O'Connor

Photo by Tess O’Connor

Langhorne Slim @ Quad Stage

Having seen Langhorne Slim before, I knew he put on a good show, but there’s something about Newport that brings out the best in artists. The appreciation and respect that the musicians have for the festival is apparent, and Langhorne did that sentiment justice with the raw energy and emotion he brought to this set. As he himself said of Newport, “This shit feels good.”

-Tess

Colin Meloy @ Museum Stage (Solo Set)

Ever since the festival added this indoor venue as a fourth stage a few years back it has produced some of our favorite moments at Newport (see Jeff Tweedy solo set from last year). Meloy performed a handful of songs totally acoustic and without any amplification, which added even more intimacy to the small room. Along with two old British folk ballads, Meloy also performed The Decemberists’ “June Hymn” and “Blues Run The Game,” a song that has been covered many a time over the years and most famously by Simon & Garfunkel.

-Eric

Photo by Tess O'Connor

Photo by Tess O’Connor

Courtney Barnett @ Quad Stage

Courtney Barnett’s sound might seem out of place on a Newport lineup, but Barnett has established herself as an entertaining lyricist who can paint a picture that encapsulates both the mundane and extraordinary. It was impossible not to enjoy this set, not just because of the excellent music, but also because Barnett was so clearly enjoying herself, breaking out in smiles between head-banging solos.

-Trev + Tess

Photo by Tess O'Connor

Photo by Tess O’Connor

James Taylor @ Fort Stage

Saturday’s unannounced appearance by James Taylor had the crowd in a buzz all morning. Taylor, returning to complete his 1969 set, played staples such as “Fire and Rain” and “Sweet Baby James” all while bantering with the crowd. A special moment for those in attendance.

-Trev

Sufjan Stevens @ Fort Stage

All of us at Maimed & Tamed are still talking about Sufjan Steven’s brilliant and haunting full-band set. His synth-heavy rearrangements of Carrie & Lowell tracks challenged our expectations, yet still retained – even magnified – the beauty of his work. He even turned “All of Me Wants All of You” into a “sexy slow jam” – his words, not mine. It was a stunning reimagining of a song we thought we knew (but let’s be clear, you haven’t felt weird inside until you’ve watched a man bodyroll while singing about his deceased mother). In addition to that new new, Sufjan’s rare take on old tunes like “The Dress Looks Nice On You” and “Come On! Feel The Illinoise!” was the cherry on top of a very strange, delicious cake.

-Caroline

The Decemberists @ Fort Stage

The 3-time Newport vets had a tough task following both James Taylor and Sufjan Stevens, but The Decemberists took it all in stride and delivered a signature headlining set to the Newport crowd. Their set was heavy on material from this year’s What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, but they also worked in old standbys like “16 Military Wives” and of course, “The Mariner’s Revenge Song.” The icing on the cake though was their singalong finale on “This Land Is Your Land” where they were joined by the Lucius ladies, Bela Fleck, Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch, and more.

-Eric

Sunday July 26

The Ballroom Thieves @ Quad Stage

This was a real proud papa moment for us after watching this band grow from an opening act at Great Scott, to tagging along for their journey to Summerfest, and now seeing them release an incredible debut record and realize their dreams by gracing the Newport stage with their wonderfully epic folk ballads. We couldn’t be happier for these guys, and it’s only a matter of time before they move up to that Fort Stage headlining slot.

-Eric

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats @ Quad Stage

Anyone who covers “The Shape I’m In” and gets J Mascis on stage to rip a scorching solo during said cover is OK in my book. This band is already doing big things and if their crowd-pleasing set at Newport is any indication I expect these guys to be hitting the festival circuit even harder next summer.

-Eric

Blake Mills @ Harbor Stage

Much like Sufjan Stevens, Blake Mills makes sure you get a vastly different experience from his live show compared to listening to his records. Mills put interesting twists on songs like “Hey Lover” and “Seven” putting his guitar virtuosity front and center. Throw in an epic, guitar-driven cover of Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece” and you’ve got yourself one of our favorite sets of the weekend.

-Eric

Hozier @ Fort Stage

Hozier performed his stacked catalog on the main stage, and it was celebratory, soulful, and surprisingly loud. Despite the dance party at his Sunday set, we also saw him pay homage to the festival’s roots when he and his cellist played traditional Irish folk songs to a reverent Museum Stage crowd. Hozier showed incredible range at NFF this year, proving – if there was any doubt – that he deserves every bit of fame he’s received.

-Caroline

’65 Revisited @ Fort Stage

Everyone halfway knew what to expect from this set, but I don’t think anyone out there predicted the set that was actually delivered. With a core backing band featuring Dawes, Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, and Dylan’s collaborator and keys player Al Kooper, an all-star cast of Newport artists ripped through songs made famous by Mr. Zimmerman. Nearly every artist who hit the stage got a chance to play the very guitar that Dylan used in his (in)famous 1965 set and it was clear how happy each of them was to get their hands on it. Only at Newport will you see names like those mentioned above plus Deer Tick, Robyn Hitchcock, Willie Watson, Hozier, Blake Mills, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and more all in one set.

-Eric

Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Leon Bridges’ Coming Home

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

Leon Bridges

In a musical climate with a high premium for nostalgia, Leon Bridges manages to bring an old school flavor to his music while offering something undeniably fresh at the same time.

It has been a few months since the release of his first single “Coming Home,” which immediately grabbed the attention of indie fans around the country. The Fort Worth, Texas native has begun to pick up steam and attention playing shows from Sofar Dallas to the upcoming Newport Folk Festival. His first taste of the Newport stage comes on the heels of the release of his debut album Coming Home and any soul music fans should rejoice, for the second coming has finally arrived.

The album begins with the title track “Coming Home” and right from the start the listener is transported to (insert early 60’s location of your choice here).  Bridges does not make any attempt to disguise his influences but at no point does it feel insincere or forced.  The soul that erupts from the speakers even during the first line is enough to prove that this man feels his music.  Every word, syllable, and inflection is sung with passion, every sentiment is delivered as though he is speaking directly to the listener.  Listening to this album is not a passive experience, it is not meant to be background music while you focus on something else.  If you put on Coming Home prepare to participate in the experience.  Each note and beat are played with unmistakable purpose, carried on the back of arguably the finest Rhythm and Blues voice of this generation.  The melodies on this album could make you want to dance, cry, or apologize to your ex, maybe even all of the above.  Essentially, if you play this record you’re going to feel it, trust me on that.

Once you get past listening to the opening track over and over again, the album begins to expand musically and thematically.  The second track titled, “Better Man” ups the tempo slightly and explores who Bridges is as a person.  The song is a cry to a lost love about regretting the past and wanting her back, all set over doo-wop music to continue the Classic Soul nature of the album.  There is a clear Southern influence permeating every facet of this record, from the style to the lyrics, the music can transport you straight to the banks of the Mississippi River in New Orleans or to some blues club in Nashville.  Even Bridges’ voice has a distinct Southern quality, not in drawl or accent, but the way he sings has that unmistakable Southern feel, reminiscent of  Otis Redding or Sam Cooke.

The record continues to climb and fall in tempo as Bridges takes you through his life, from women who have come and gone, to regrets from his youth, to celebrations.  The music is eclectic, Bridges seamlessly transitions between Soul, R&B, Rock and Roll, the Blues, and Gospel, to create a sound that, while rooted in the classic days of Soul music, is fresh and new.  Each song brings its own unique flavor while being delivered by the sweet yet soulful sound of Bridges’ voice.  In spite of his obvious influences, he manages to avoid being stuck to one type of song or style, Bridges is not just a soul singer, he is a story teller.  In “Lisa Sawyer” we get the story of a woman’s life, from her lineage to her transgressions.  The song is both moving and compelling, and if the story somehow doesn’t keep you interested his voice certainly will.

After nine remarkably well crafted songs, Coming Home finds its conclusion with the track “River.”  Putting this song at the closing spot on the album is genius in itself.  The album is one long story, it has told us who Bridges is, who he has loved, how he celebrates and how he mourns.  “River” is the closing paragraph to that story, it is the final summation of who Bridges truly is. The song is the closest link to the gospel tradition on the album, it is a confession where Bridges can wash away his sins and we as the listeners act as witnesses.  The slow moving ballad carries more emotion and power than any other song on the record.  “River” is the perfect closing point to what is a remarkable debut record and hopefully the start of a very long successful career.

Here is Leon playing “River” live.

Unannounced Newport Folk Festival Acts

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

Newport Folk Festival 2015 Unannounced SlotsWith the M&T crew already posted up in a vacation rental in Newport (yea, we’re pros at this), all of our conversations this week have eventually turned to speculation as to who will be filling the two “unannounced” slots on Friday and Saturday of the festival. We won’t know for sure until we show up at the Fort, but here are a few (somewhat) educated guesses at who will be playing in those two slots and why.

Friday July 24: 530-630pm  @ The Fort Stage

My Morning Jacket

The Case For: We’ve been pining for MMJ to make their NFF comeback ever since their headlining set was cut short by rain three years ago, and their tour to support The Waterfall seems like it is perfectly routed for a performance on Friday. Another possible indicator of an MMJ set is that there is literally no changeover time on the schedule between the unannounced slot and Roger Waters’ set so it could be someone who has collaborated with Waters in the past and would potentially join him during his set. Well, remember that time Waters and MMJ rocked out on “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” at the Love for Levon concert?

The Case Against: As we mentioned, MMJ has headlined Newport Folk Festival before so it would be a bit odd for them to return in a non-headlining capacity.

Jeff Beck

The Case For: Earlier this year Roger Waters re-released his 1992 concept album Amused to Death, an album that featured a host of collaborators and special guests. One guest who featured prominently was English guitar god Jeff Beck who could certainly hold down an hour long set as well as join Mr. Waters onstage during his.

The Case Against: Beck’s tour schedule is becoming more and more sparse as he gets older in age and he recently wrapped a North American tour earlier this spring. With no upcoming Stateside shows on the schedule it’s tough to think he’d come to Newport for a one-off performance in an hour long time slot.

Saturday July 25: 350-420pm @ The Fort Stage

Eyelids

The Case For: We predicted this Decemberists/Guided By Voices/The Minus 5 supergroup would be on this year’s lineup and it would make sense that they perform the same day that The Decemberists are headlining.

The Case Against: They haven’t played many shows recently as a group and their website indicates that there are no dates scheduled for the future. Much like Jeff Beck, it wouldn’t make too much sense for them to play a one-off gig in a 30 minute time slot.

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott

The Case For: Ramblin’ Jack is the wise old folk sage on NFF’s board of advisors and this year’s lineup is lacking a representative from Elliott’s generation. Not to mention Colin Meloy being the only member of the aforementioned board who is scheduled to appear this weekend, it would only make sense for at least one more (and possibly Jim James??) advisor to join the lineup.

The Case Against: Like Beck, touring for Elliott has become less frequent in recent years and with a short tour scheduled in August and September it would be a bit of a stretch for him to add any new dates and deviate from that course.