Friday July 24, 2015
Strand of Oaks
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.
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.
Saturday July 25, 2015
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.
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.
Sunday July 26, 2015
The Ballroom Thieves
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.
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.