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

July Spotify Playlist of the Month


Coming back at you in July with another big-time playlist. This month features 65 fresh jams from the likes of Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Read More

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

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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.

Bellwire Premiere New Video For “Time Out”

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Bellwire "Time Out" Video

Boston based powerpop quartet Bellwire have released a brand new video for their single “Time Out.” The video, directed by Ben Bocko (who also snapped the lovely photo of the band above), was filmed in Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, MA. The song will be included on the band’s upcoming full-length produced by Elio DeLuca who has previously worked with acts like Titus Andronicus and Hallelujah the Hills. After watching the video for “Time Out” it’s no surprise that DeLuca and Bellwire fit perfectly together given the tongue-in-cheek approach we have seen Titus and HTH take on some of their previous work as well.

The band will be on tour across New England this October and will follow up with a more extensive run of dates next Spring to support the release of the new album. Keep your eyes peeled to the band’s website for tour updates. Until then check out the video for ‘Time Out” and let its sweet summery vibes put a smile back on your face on this rainy Wednesday.

5 Undercard Acts To Keep Your Eye on at Newport Folk Festival

Posted on by Ryan Schmitz in Newport Folk Festival Spotlight | 1 Comment

The schedule for this year’s Newport Folk Festival was just released on their app and though there might be a few scheduling conflicts, we’ve got you covered if you’re not quite sure who to devote your time to. In addition to our most anticipated acts of this year’s fest here are 5 more acts who are not quite near the top of the bill, but very much worth checking out.

The Barr Brothers – 12:10pm Saturday July 25 @ Fort Stage

Rhode Island natives Andrew and Brad Barr return to their home state to play the hallowed grounds of Fort Adams along with their full folk ensemble.  With the drop of their newest EP, Alta Falls, happening only a few months ago, The Barr Brothers will have plenty of quality material to bring to the stage.  For the uninitiated, one can expect a haunting blend of traditional folk, delta blues, and a remarkably unique use of ambient sound to create a sound that can only be classified as The Barr Brothers.

Leon Bridges – 1:35pm Friday July 24 @ Quad Stage

The 26 year old out of Fort Worth, Texas may be new on the scene but his sound is distinctly classic.  With his debut album, Coming Home, less than a month old, Bridges is still picking up steam and will no doubt bring some youthful energy to the stages of the Newport Folk Fest.  More importantly, with him comes a taste of 60s rhythm and blues.  His sound is a harkening to the genre’s heyday when the likes of Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett, and Otis Redding were at their heights. Well now, in the year 2015, Leon Bridges is coming up North to show us all that Soul music is alive and well.

Joe Pug – 12:00pm Friday July 24 @ Harbor Stage

Joe Pug is no stranger to the folk scene, the veteran finger picker just released his third album titled Windfall earlier this year and will no doubt bring plenty of fresh folksy material up to Newport.  Pug is one of the leaders of the modern day singer-songwriter movement, melding his gripping acoustic guitar playing with some of the most vivid and thought provoking lyrics of this generation.  Pug is an absolute must see for any appreciator of the singer-songwriter.

Elephant Revival – 1:00pm Friday July 24 @ Fort Stage

This folk quintet out of Colorado brings a taste of the West with them wherever they go.  They have cultivated a sound that I have eloquently dubbed “prairie music,” bringing all familiar Americana ingredients together with a sort of romantic style of songwriting that really can bring you right to the foot of the Rockies if you let it.  Of course, Fort Adams is a solid 5 hour flight to Colorado but Elephant Revival is guaranteed to make you forget that for at least a minute (no easy task given the view you get in the grounds).

Spirit Family Reunion – 11:10am Saturday July 25 @ Quad Stage

Feeling a craving to stomp your feet?  Look no further than to whichever stage is tasked with holding up Spirit Family Reunion.  This New York roots group brings high energy Americana everywhere they go and is sure to bring out the hillbilly in anyone.  SFR just released their newest album Hands Together earlier this year so some exciting fresh material should be in the lineup.

Exclusive Premiere: Hayley Sabella – “Speak To Me Loud (Anchour Remix)”

Posted on by Eric in M&T Favorites | 2 Comments

Last year one of our favorite Massachusetts based songwriters, Hayley Sabella, released her full-length album King Solomon, which featured the beautifully minimalist track “Speak To Me Loud.” Now the fine folks at Anchour Studio in Windham, Maine have given “Speak To Me Loud” a remix treatment that turns the solitary and contemplative original into a bona fide summer jam. Take a listen to the original and then try not to get out of your seat and dance while you stream the remix below.

If you’re in Boston make sure to catch Hayley opening for Jason Myles Goss’ album release at Club Passim this weekend on July 11.

July Spotify Playlist of the Month

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July 2015 Spotify Playlist of the Month

Does everyone else think there is there a lot of great music coming out in 2015 or is is just us? Once again we’ve got an expanded playlist for you in July, totaling 40 brand new songs for your listening pleasure. This month features fresh jams from newcomers like Wolf Alice and Pavo Pavo as well as tracks off potential album-of-the-year contenders by indie vets like The Vaccines and Desaparecidos. Check out all those artists and more on the full playlist below and remember to subscribe for new tunes every month.

Most Anticipated Acts at Newport Folk Festival 2015

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Newport Folk Fest 2015

Friday July 24, 2015

Strand of Oaks – 3:45pm @ Harbor Stage

After seeing Timothy Showalter and the rest of Strand of Oaks put on a rousing set at Sasquatch earlier this summer, they were an easy pick for my most anticipated act of Friday at NFF. I know that the Roger Waters performance will certainly be something special and unique, but Strand of Oaks is an act that will feed off of the emotional connection that Newport fans forge during inspiring sets. Not to mention that “JM”, Showalter’s ode to the late Jason Molina, might be one of the best set closers on the festival circuit this summer.

-Eric

Heartless Bastards – 5:05pm @ Harbor Stage

The first moment you hear Erika Wennerstrom’s voice is a reality check: it’s instantly clear she’s lived a lot more life than you, but if you listen up, you might just learn something. Weathered but not weary, Wennerstorm and her band share epic road stories set to anthemic blues rock. With all their gritty charm and grunge-y guitars, Heartless Bastards’ huge sound will fill the Fort and then some on Friday night.

-Caroline

Saturday July 25, 2015

Tommy Stinson – 3:40pm @ Harbor Stage

Clearly Tommy Stinson is known as the bass player of alt-rock pioneers The Replacements, but he’s had a pretty solid solo career to boot. 2004’s Village Gorilla Head is an album that is filled with the same nostalgic aura that can be found in many of the best ‘Mats recordings and 2011’s One Man Mutiny is a rollicking rock ‘n roll album through and through. Newport is known for its outside-the-box programming, but I’d like to give an extra special tip of the cap to the NFF team for bringing in a rock veteran that plenty of other artists on the lineup look up to and hope to collaborate with come festival weekend.

-Eric

Andy Shauf – 11:05am @ Harbor Stage

Newport Folk is a listener’s music festival. You’ll hear lots of music of course, and you can dance, sing, party, and all those other festy verbs, but thanks to NFF’s deeply rooted reverence for songwriting, the festival is designed for listening. And thus, there’s no better place to see Andy Shauf, a folk singer who will have you leaning in and lingering on every single word and note. Shauf crafts delicate songs built on intricate stories. It’s a model beloved by so many great Newport alums before him, and chances are you’ll fall in love with it too.

-Caroline

Sunday July 26, 2015

The Ballroom Thieves – 11:10am at Quad Stage

What can we say on this blog that we haven’t already about The Ballroom Thieves? We’ve been to Milwaukee and back with the band for a special Summerfest set, and shared so many other memories in Boston, New York, and beyond. To see The Thieves added to this year’s lineup is a win for the Boston indie music scene as a whole, and man did we need one after the recent news of TT The Bear’s closing. For years we’ve been saying that a set from The Thieves would be one to get the Newport faithful on their feet and dancing in the aisles, and we’re not backing down from that claim whatsoever. So do yourself a couple favors and grab a copy of A Wolf in the Doorway and carve out some time in your Sunday schedule to catch what is sure to be an incredible set.

-Eric

Rodrigo Amarante – 1:15pm @ Harbor Stage

Question: Are shamans still a thing? Follow-up question: Is Rodrigo Amarante one? The healing nature of Amarante’s soul-stirring Brazilian folk makes me seriously wonder if the dude has supernatural powers. Amarante’s catalog ranges from spare and wandering to a full-band tropicalia groove. It’s strange, transfixing, and always gorgeous – and the set will surely be a can’t-miss moment at the Fort.

-Caroline

June Spotify Playlist of the Month

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Maimed & Tamed Spotify Playlist of the Month June 2015

Since the weather has been gloomy and rainy in both Brooklyn and Boston this week, we’ve compiled the perfect set of fresh tunes to fix your summertime blues. This month’s playlist boasts 10 bonus tracks (30 songs in total because we love you) from newcomers and M&T faves alike. Hop Along returns with what might be an album-of-the-year contender, Holly Miranda has released her first full-length since we saw her absolutely destroy Terminal 5 opening for My Morning Jacket 5 years ago, and Júníus Meyvant is back after bringing us one of our favorite tracks from 2014. Check out all those artists and more on the full 30-track playlist below and remember to subscribe for new tuneage every month.

Friday Passes Still Available for Newport Folk Festival

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

With Newport Folk Festival’s staggered announcement of this year’s lineup, one can tend to forget how incredible the overall lineup already is. After the most recent announcement of Tallest Man on Earth, I revisited the lineup page and had to rub my eyes a bit after staring at the screen since I had clearly missed some of the individual announcements.  Sufjan Stevens. The Decemberists. Lord Huron. The Lone Bellow. J freakin Mascis. And that’s only about 10% of the portion of the lineup that has been announced to this point.

What struck me as curious though is that how in the hell are there still tickets available for Friday? One of the things that makes Newport Folk Festival so special is the collaboration between artists on the lineup and Friday is primed for plenty of that. Some of the scheduled acts are already collaborations of sorts (i.e. Watkins Family Hour, Iron & Wine + Ben Bridwell, Wildwood Revival) and plenty of other artists have common ties. Remember that beautiful EP that Calexico and Iron & Wine made together? How about when Blake Mills (Sunday performer) and Fiona Apple (part of Watkins Family Hour) were all over each other’s recordings and tours? The list goes on and so we hope the on-stage collaborations go as well.

Check out the full lineup as it stands at the moment, and make sure to grab your tickets for Friday at the link below before they announce another monster addition.

NFF Friday Tickets

May Spotify Playlist of the Month

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May 2015 Spotify Playlist

With temperatures up over 70 degrees here in Brooklyn today, it’s fair to say that spring has arrived. Maybe it’s because we’re so excited about the weather, but once again we’ve got a playlist loaded with bonus tracks this month. Instead of our normal 20 songs we’ve created our longest playlist to date with 50 fresh jams for you to check out during the month of May. Highlights include new tunes from Blur, Titus Andronicus, The Barr Brothers, The Ballroom Thieves, Only RealMiniboone, and even X-Files star David Duchovny. Yea, he made a record, and it’s surprisingly good. Not to mention a beautiful new track from our friends in The Western Den, who are also in the midst of an Indiegogo campaign to fund their upcoming tour. Check out the full 50-track playlist below and remember to subscribe for new tuneage every month.