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Newport Folk Festival Spotlight

Most Anticipated Acts at Newport Folk Festival 2015

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Newport Folk Fest 2015

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.

-Eric

Heartless Bastards

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Passes Still Available for Newport Folk Festival

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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

Newport Folk Festival 2015 Predictions/Wishlist

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Newport Folk Festival 2015

Now that tickets have gone on sale for this year’s Newport Folk Festival (get yours here before they sell out because they most definitely will) the lineup rumor mill has inevitably started turning. In years past our predictions/wishlist have been both hits and misses, but that’s not going to stop us from making another list this year. Here’s to hoping we get ‘em all right in 2015.

My Morning Jacket

This one just makes too much sense. Jim James and co. are back hitting the festival circuit hard this summer with appearances at Bonnaroo, Governors Ball, Boston Calling, and Hangout already confirmed. Plus Mr. James also resides on the festival’s Board of Advisors, and not to mention their epic set at the 2012 festival that was cut short by torrential rain. If ever there was a lock for this year’s lineup, this would be it.

-Eric

Natalie Prass and/or Courtney Barnett

About a minute into Natalie Prass’ brand new album, that oh-so-familiar feeling hit: “God, she’d be great at Newport.”  Prass’ vocals float precariously on top of her brassy backing band, creating one of the most unique female folk albums we’ve heard in a while. Another powerhouse we’d love to see at Folk ’15 is Courtney Barnett (of Australia, naturally). Her 2013 album was a veritable indie hit, thanks especially to her raw, sardonic songwriting. Much like Newport veterans like Sharon Van Etten and Jenny Lewis, Prass and Bartnett have found new ways to juxtapose hard and soft in their music. We’re crossing our fingers to see both in July.

-Caroline

Laura Marling

After a rather lengthy hiatus, Ms. Marling has returned to her tales of love, self-reflection, womanhood and all the rest in her full-length album, Short Movie.

-Woody

Eyelids

Members of the Decemberists + The Minus 5 + Guided By Voices = Eyelids. Need we say more?

-Caroline

Jessica Pratt

Having recently been picked up by Drag Records, Jessica Pratt and her ’60s sentimentalities have the folk and indie audiences caught somewhere between nostalgia and a breath of fresh-folk air.

-Woody

Will Dailey

What would a Newport Wishlist be without a little local love? Of all the Boston folk rock artists who put out an album in 2014, Dailey might be the most deserving of a slot at the historic festival. National Throat was one of our favorite records from last year and we could totally see it translating to a killer set at The Fort this year.

-Eric

Little May

The M&T team will always rep Boston, no questions asked… but there’s something in the water down under, so we’ve got toss some serious love towards Aussie bands as well. Little May, a new group of Sydney, offers three-part harmonies and stunning melodies that would attract an insta-crowd at Newport.

-Caroline

The Decemberists

With a new album out, Colin Meloy on the aforementioned festival Board of Advisors, and a bunch of festival dates already announced, this one is a close second in the mortal lock category.

-Eric

Jose Gonzalez

The Swede returns. Years after tattooing his sound on the arm of the post-Nick Drake revival, Gonzalez finds himself anew on his highly anticipated full-length, Vestiges and Claws.

-Woody

Júníus Meyvant

This one is definitely our sleeper pick for 2015. The Icelandic singer Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson, who performs under the name Júníus Meyvant, hasn’t made a ton of noise stateside, but as we’ve seen in years past that hasn’t stopped producer Jay Sweet from booking acts that on are the cusp. Just imagine this performance of “Color Decay” (which also appeared on our Best Songs of 2014 list) at the Fort and you’ll understand what we mean.

-Eric

Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Ryan Adams

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[Editor’s note: Many thanks to our friend and guest contributor, Jamie McKillop, for writing this wonderful piece]

Mixing the country twang of Gram Parson, the heartfelt lyrics of Neil Young and the brashness of Hüsker Dü, Ryan Adams began his solo career shortly after the dissolution of his band Whiskeytown in 2000 with the album Heartbreaker.  Powered by songs like “Winding Wheel”, “Oh My Sweet Carolina”, and “Come Pick Me Up” the album received critical acclaim and prompted major labels to come calling. Signing with Lost Highway Records, Adams released Gold in 2001. The album, by far the most “accessible” in his catalog, was also his most commercially successful and its lead single “New York, New York” quickly became a favorite on MTV and other outlets following the September 11 attacks.

After the release of Gold, Adams quickly recorded four albums worth of material within a year. In a sign of some mutual acrimony to follow, Lost Highway opted to whittle the robust output down to thirteen songs and release the collection as “Demolition” in 2002.  While his label chose not to release the entire collection, some of these “lost” albums are available online if you are willing to look hard enough.

For his proper follow up to “Gold”, Adams recorded a haunting, dark collection of songs entitled “Love is Hell” that many hardcore Adams fans believe to be his finest work. Not happy with the album and claiming it to be not “rock and roll” enough, Lost Highway refused to release the album and pressed Adams to return to the studio. He did, quickly recording a new album of jarring, punk infused songs entitled Rock’n’Roll which was released in 2003. While definitely the black sheep in Adams catalogue, the recording process for Rock’n’Roll seemed to be cathartic for the singer/songwriter and he has described it as being “fun as fuck”. Love is Hell was relegated to being released as two separate EPs although a full version of the record was released in 2004.

2005 proved to be the most prolific of Adams’ high-volume career, during which he released three albums. Two of the albums Cold Roses (a double album) and Jacksonville City Nights, were recorded with his new backing band, The Cardinals while the third, 29 was a solo record. While it might seem Adams could use work in the editorial department, many of the songs from these albums have become staples of his live sets, including “Let it Ride”, “If I am Stranger” and a collaboration with Norah Jones (another performer at this years festival) titled “Dear John”.

After battling and conquering some personal demons, Adams returned with 2007’s Easy Tiger. While billed as a solo record, the album was recorded with the latest iteration of the Cardinals and Adams has credited the band with being heavily involved in the creation of the albums material. Easy Tiger was more focused than his recent output and contains notable tracks like “Goodnight Rose”, “Everybody Knows” and “Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.” Adams and the Cardinals followed up with Cardinology in 2008.  Despite being tightly produced and the inclusion of solid tracks like “Cobwebs” and “Evergreen”, something about the album and the band seemed tired. Given this, it wasn’t surprising when Adams disbanded the Cardinals shortly after Cardinology and went into a self-imposed hiatus.

Adams returned to the musical fold in 2011 with a new outlook, a new label, new album, Ashes and Fire. During his time off, Adams moved from New York to LA and the relocation is evident in the albums relaxed, laid back material. Working with famed producer Glynn Johns, who also happens to be the father of frequent Adams collaborator Ethan Johns, Adams put together a solid collection of sparse, acoustic tracks, including, “Dirty Rain”, “Invisible Riverside” and the beautiful “Lucky Now”.

After taking another extended (at least by his standards) break, during which Adams helped produce material for Ethan Johns, Jenny Lewis (another festival performer) and Fall Out Boy, Adams dropped his latest single “Gimme Something Good” and announced that his latest, self-titled album will be released in September. “Gimme Something Good” is reminiscent of early 80’s Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers mixed with Adams usual flair for a chorus, leaving this author hotly anticipating his forthcoming album and his performance tomorrow night!

5 Must- See Acts at Newport Folk Festival 2014

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The best and worst thing about the Newport Folk Festival lineup each year is that it is always stacked with talent. The amazing abilities of the festival curators to bring unique lineups to Newport year after year is what keeps people coming back, but with only so much time in the weekend there are tough decisions that have to be made when it comes to scheduling. That’s why we’re here. If you’re debilitated by indecision to choose between all of the incredible artists performing this weekend then take our advice and make sure that, above all else, you check out these 5 acts.

Tall Tall Trees (Friday 12:45-1:25 @Harbor Stage) – Though Mike Savino aka Tall Tall Trees has not released an album since 2012’s Moment, he’s still certain to turn heads with his unconventional approach to the banjo, a style which has conjured words like ‘banjotron’ and ‘space banjo.’ Don’t act like you’re not intrigued.

Deer Tick (Saturday 3:15-4:15pm @ Fort Stage) – It’s clear to see that John McCauley and co. have become the kings of Newport Folk Festival, and you’d be silly to think they don’t have at least a few tricks up their sleeves as they hold court over the main stage for the first time ever.

Nickel Creek (Saturday 4:40-5:45pm @ Fort Stage) – This reunion tour was destined to make a stop at the hallowed grounds of Fort Adams and something tells us that the crowd’s energy at this set will be beyond infectious.

Conor Oberst (Sunday 3:20-4:20pm @ Fort Stage) – We know for sure that Dawes will be joining the Bright Eyes frontman on stage to perform tracks from his stellar solo release Upside Down Mountain, but we have a hunch that a few other Folk friends will be joining in on the fun as well.

Jeff Tweedy (Sunday 4:45-5:50pm @ Fort Stage) –  Or shall we say simply Tweedy…Regardless of the name that Jeff Tweedy is using to brand his solo debut, the man is a legend and we fully expect the Folk to pay their regards as he dazzles the festival’s main stage on Sunday afternoon.

Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Lake Street Dive

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[Editor’s Note: Guest blog post by contributor Ryan Bach]

Lake Street Dive released their second album earlier this year, and since has been gaining attention from press and music lovers alike. Founded in Boston, MA in 2004, the band was formed while the members were enrolled in New England Conservatory of Music. LSD derives its unique sound from its various influences, which include country, bluegrass, jazz, and of course, The Beatles. The video that may have sparked all the buzz though was a cover of The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back,” filmed on a sidewalk in Brighton, MA.

The band’s original songs seem to pay homage to its influences by carrying the ’60s and ’70s sound to its newest and second official release Bad Self Portraits. LSD’s debut album In This Episode came out back in 2006; however, the band was temporarily unable to release any work with lead singer Rachel Price due to her restrictions with a previous record label contract. While the legal issues were being settled, the band used the time to tour and write extensively. As soon as the contract issues were resolved, the band was more than ready to get back into the studio to record their second album.

The time that the band put into Bad Self Portraits doesn’t disappoint, with highlights including the swinging tune “You Go Down Smooth” and the title track. Lake Street Dive did a great job of incorporating old-style tunes to a modern setting in their latest album, and the band’s summer plans will surely grab your attention. Highlights of their summer tour include:

7/25/14                      Newport Folk Festival                     Newport, RI

7/27/14                      Xponential Music Festival              Camden, NJ

9/7/14                         Boston Calling                                 Boston, MA

About the Author

Ryan Bach was raised in Glenview, Illinois before attending Boston University, where he studies business and competes for Boston University’s Men’s Swim Team. See more of his writing on his personal website.

Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Reignwolf

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Normally a band who is touring with Black Sabbath wouldn’t appear at the Newport Folk Festival in the same year…those things just don’t mix. As we’ve learned over the years though, Jay Sweet and his festival booking team understand that the term “folk” can be interpreted in many different ways. We saw Freelance Whales and Tegan & Sara in 2011, tUnE-yArDs in 2012, and now the Fort will welcome the gritty blues rock of Jordan Cook aka Reignwolf to its hallowed festival grounds. Armed with a guitar, a kick drum, and a helluva lot of distortion, Cook is guaranteed to turn some heads at Newport this summer. Check out a video of Reignwolf performing “In The Dark” for NPR at last year’s Sasquatch Music Festival, and make sure to grab tickets for Friday while they last!

  Get Tickets

Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Death Vessel

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With the rolling lineup announcements for this year’s Newport Folk Festival there’s still plenty more to be unveiled, but already we’ve found ourselves completely smitten with the lineup. It wouldn’t be Newport without familiar faces like Dawes, and Conor Oberst, but it’s the newcomers that get us the most excited. Especially if that act is someone we had never heard before seeing them added to the lineup, which is exactly the case with Joel Thibodeau aka Death Vessel. After listening to Thibodeau’s debut album, Island Intervals, on repeat following its release, he has quickly become one of the acts we’re most looking forward to seeing at the Fort. Death Vessel’s music is deeply layered and eerily whimsical, yet still playful at times. Island Intervals immediately brings to mind the sounds of Sigur Ros so it’s no surprise that Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi makes a guest appearance on the track “Isla Drown.”

It will be interesting to see how Thibodeau recreates the sounds of Island Intervals in a live setting down at the Fort, but either way we will be there to witness it. Check out the official video for “Mercury Dime” below and grab your tickets for Friday’s festivities while they last. We guarantee they’ll be gone sooner than you think.

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Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Shakey Graves

Posted on by Caroline in M&T Favorites, Newport Folk Festival Spotlight | Leave a comment

Armed with the loyal affection of fans from his hometown of Austin, TX, Shakey Graves is shipping his signature blues/rock fusion up north for this year’s Newport Folk Festival. While Shakey Graves (known off-stage as Alejandro Rose-Garcia) is a solo act, it’s much more than a “man and his guitar” situation. His kick-drum and tambourine are jerry-rigged out of a suitcase which he plays by foot, all while laying vocals that are so gritty they could sand your floors. Rose-Garcia’s finger-picking on a distorted guitar completes the lo-fi feel. So don’t let his one-man status fool you — just because he’s not jumping on a piano (#tbt to Matt Vasquez at NFF 2012) doesn’t mean the show will lack in energy. Shakey Graves’ sound is impossibly larger and livelier than his busker-esque appearance, especially on commanding crowd-pleasers like “Roll the Bones.” And even on “Word of Mouth” and his more subdued tracks, a slow-burning vibrancy remains. Each song in Shakey’s catalog is connected to the next through his distinct songwriting style, which is heavily influenced by “the good ol’ days,” for lack of a more specific time period. His old-school lyrics are so authentic that I’m half-convinced his sole form of currency is gold nuggets, and maybe the occasional fur pelt. Shakey Graves’ stories of stargazing, moonshine-swilling and straight-shootin’ will sound just right within the timeworn walls of Fort Adams. And we’re willing to bet that come July, the resident golden boy of Austin will be embraced by yet another tight-knit music community, this time at Newport Folk Fest.

You can listen to and download Shakey Graves’ latest album here.

Newport Folk Festival Lineup Predictions/Wishlist

Posted on by Eric in Concert Preview, M&T Favorites, Newport Folk Festival Spotlight | 6 Comments

With the recent passing of Newport Folk Festival legend Pete Seeger, this year is sure to be an emotional one down at the Fort. Seeger was an inspiration for every artist who performed and every fan in attendance, year in and year out. His onstage sing-alongs became something that we looked forward to every year, because you just knew that every artist on the lineup was begging to share the stage with Pete. To say he’ll be sorely missed would be an understatement, but we’re sure that the Folk Family will take the festival to a whole new level in Pete’s name this year.

With NFF only 6 months away (and a few acts already announced…) it’s about time we made our predictions and put together a wishlist for the 2014 edition of Christmas in July. Check out the full list and click the button below to buy tickets while you sill can, because it most definitely will sell out.

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Frightened Rabbit – Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Deer Tick have all played Newport, why not my other favorite band this year?

Nickel Creek – Their reunion after eight years apart was  just announced this week, so we’re crossing our fingers that this bluegrass supergroup will celebrate their sweet, sweet return at Newport this year.

Johnny Flynn – Johnny Flynn is a wise-beyond-his-years songwriter, and his music channels the Americana roots that NFF knows and loves (despite his British heritage).

Ivan and Alyosha – This honest, feel-good folk-pop group toured with Lone  Bellow in 2013, and we think they’re long overdue for their own moment at the Fort.

Shakey Graves – Shakey Graves’ mysterious reputation fits his gritty blues to a t. If Shakey plays Newport this year, the Folk may not know his name coming in, but they’ll sure as hell know it when they leave.

Saintseneca – Their new album of jangly, upbeat folk drops this April, and we’re hooked on the tunes we’ve heard from Dark Arc so far.

Kishi Bashi – With one of the most transfixing live shows we’ve ever seen, Kishi Bashi’s violin-looping expertise would be a perfectly unexpected addition to the lineup.

Lake Street Dive – With the impending release of their LP Bad Self Portraits, they’re due for a big 2014 and we’d love nothing more than for them to rock the Fort.

Typhoon – Typhoon’s twelve-man band has their name all over the Quad Stage (and we can absolutely see them jumping into the crowd for a stripped-down version of “The Honest Truth“).

Ben Howard – If we had our way this year’s lineup would be heavy on the UK acts and following a huge 2013 who better to represent our folk friends from across the pond than Ben Howard?

Night Beds- “Ramona” was one of our favorite songs in 2013 plus new music is on the way in 2014.

Nick Waterhouse- This year’s J.D. McPherson.

Darlingside/The Ballroom Thieves/Tall Heights- We’d love to see any or all of these local Boston folk favorites to follow in the footsteps of Kingsley Flood this year.

AgesandAges- Surprising that they haven’t had a shot at the Newport stages yet, but with a new album due in 2014 the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Damien Jurado- His new record, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son, is way too good and way too buzzy to not be considered.