It was only a matter of time before Newport Folk Festival spread its wings and sent its guitar carrying gull over to the West Coast. What has resulted from NFF’s rapid rise in popularity over recent years is a second festival taking place in Santa Monica this fall aptly named Way Over Yonder. For fans of NFF there will be plenty of familiar faces like First Aid Kit, Jonathan Wilson, Shovels & Rope, Spirit Family Reunion, and more. Joining these Newport veterans are a spattering of new folk festival friends such as Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, and Aaron Embry, among others.
Just when we thought Newport Folk Festival couldn’t get any better, now Christmas comes twice a year in the form of your next favorite folk festival (sorry, couldn’t resist the alliteration). So get up off your folkin’ desk chair, book your flight, and grab a ticket to Way Over Yonder. It’s just too hard to resist. Whilst you confirm your plans, take a listen to a video we caught of one of our favorite NFF alums and WOY 2013 act, Jonathan Wilson, as he and his band take on “Can We Really Party Today” at NFF 2012. FOLK ON!
Any time I get to type the words “Newport Folk Festival” on my keyboard I get a bit giddy like a kid writing out his Christmas list, but when the end of July rolls around and those three wonderful words are followed with “Recap,” it is quite the bittersweet moment. If we could stay at the Fort year-round listening to incredible music, eating oysters, and drinking Del’s lemonade we most certainly would, but all good things must come to an end.
NFF ’13 was filled with plenty of special moments, boundless collaborations, and a wealth of memories that will stick with us for a long time to come. Between our crew of M&T contributors and friends we probably caught the majority of sets at this year’s festival, but below we chose some of our favorites from each day that stood out from the rest. Read on and take a listen and we’ll start crossing the days off the calendar until next July.
Friday July 26
Kingsley Flood @ Fort Stage- We highlighted these Boston locals in our Newport preview and they did not disappoint by any means. Seeing the guys and gal of Kingsley Flood enjoy themselves on stage as much as they did brought an energy into the crowd that was the perfect way to kick off the festival.
Phosphorescent @ Quad Stage- This was quite the pleasant surprise after hearing mixed reviews from friends and colleagues who caught Matthew Houck and Co. at SXSW earlier this year. With Phosphorescent’s Muchacho being one of our favorite records of 2013 thus far, we were quick to our feet at the Quad Stage, but by the end of the set the tent was a full-on dance party.
John McCauley @ Quad Stage- Although we had expected a few more artist collaborations from the Prince of Newport Folk Festival, all we really needed was McCauley’s cover of “Margaritaville” with his Mom. Yea that happened. And so did rousing singalongs of Deer Tick standbys “Ashamed” and “The Bump,” but Mama McCauley belting some Buffett was certainly a highlight.
The Lone Bellow @ Quad Stage- Another group that we touched on in our Newport preview, this Brooklyn trio brought all of the passion and energy that we had hoped they would. Combine their foot-stomping, hand-clapping show at the Quad Stage with an after-party in downtown Newport where we were lucky enough to catch them cover Mariah Carey and Brian McKnight, and we’d say The Lone Bellow had quite the day for themselves.
Jim James @ Fort Stage- How could you not see this one coming? The My Morning Jacket frontman got the crowd moving with his spacey vocals, crunchy guitar licks, and of course his smooth saxophone skills which have become a staple of his Regions of Light and Sound of God tour.
Deer Tick After Party @ Newport Blues Cafe- Deer Tick + Jason Isbell + Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” = Magic.
Sunday July 28
Spirit Family Reunion @ Quad Stage- Singing along to “Green Rocky Road” under the shining Sunday sun was one of the happiest moments of the weekend.
Lord Huron @ Quad Stage- We caught this LA based band give an acoustic performance at Bonnaroo earlier this summer, and although we thoroughly enjoy the intimate sets that Bonnaroo’s Sonic Stage provides, that set did not hold a candle to what we saw at Newport Folk. Drummer Mark Barry brought a whole new layer and vigor to the songs from Lonesome Dreams that wasn’t there when we saw the band in June, and the rest of the group certainly raised the energy level to meet the anticipation from the crowd. Lord Huron also had the distinction of being one of very few bands that were cheered back on stage for an encore last weekend.
Bombino @ Harbor Stage- Even though he could barely speak English between songs, Nigerian born Bombino had no issues connecting with the crowd through his impressive guitar chops. It was as if Hendrix had been reincarnated in the African desert and transported 5000 miles to Fort Adams to grace us with his blazing guitar riffs and impeccable style.
We know what you’re thinking, Newport Folk Festival is only two days away and you still can’t decide which bands to see because they’re all so awesome. Well we’re here to make your life a bit easier and provide you a quick guide to the can’t miss sets at the 2013 edition of the festival. And for those of you keeping score at home, we nailed it pretty hard with our predictions back in January, so we know what we’re talking about (or at least we like to think so). You can check out out our Top 5 artists below and listen to them and more on our NFF ’13 Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.
Houndmouth (Saturday July 27 @ 1:35pm Harbor Stage)- We’ve been singing the praises of Indiana’s Houndmouth since early 2012 and now that their stellar full-length debut has been released we’re guessing that there will be plenty of singing from the crowd to go along with their tight live show.
Kingsley Flood (Friday July 26 @ 2:30pm Fort Stage)- These Boston locals have been clawing at the gates of Newport for the past couple of years and their Fort Adams performance couldn’t have come at a better time. Fresh off of the release of their critically acclaimed album Battles, they’re sure to bring the ruckus to the Fort Stage. Maybe they’ll invite me up to play some trash can…
The Lone Bellow (Saturday July 27 @ 1:10pm Quad Stage)- Their performance in April at Brighton Music Hall was one of our favorite shows of 2013 thus far as the trio’s set bursted with passion and energy. Since I wasn’t able to catch their last Boston show with our good friends in The Ballroom Thieves, I hope that the same spark from April is there again at Newport.
John McCauley (Friday July 26 @ 6:10pm Quad Stage)- Over the past few years, the Deer Tick frontman has grown to represent the essence of the festival itself. What makes Newport so special is the family atmosphere, both in the crowd and amongst the artists, and at the center of this family is McCauley. In the world of Newport Folk Festival, McCauley is the spark for collaboration between artists, whether it be with his buddies from Delta Spirit and Dawes or starting a singalong at the Backstage Benefit BBQ. So if you don’t want to miss the special moments that everyone will be talking about once the festival is over, then don’t miss Mr. McCauley’s set.
The Low Anthem Presents “Newport Homegrown” (Friday July 26 @ 3:00pm Museum Stage)/Joe Fletcher’s “Nashville to Newport” (Saturday July 27 @ 1:30pm Museum Stage)- I guess I cheated on this one since it is two different sets, but both seem to be Newport’s answer to Bonnaroo’s famous Superjams, where collaboration is embraced and a one-of-a-kind festival experience is created. If that’s the case, you can sure as hell count me in. The list of artists scheduled to perform at these jams include names like Last Good Tooth, Roz Raskin, Amanda Shires, and Andrew Combs among others. Those are just some of the people we know will be there, but we’ll let your imagination get to work on the surprises you think the Rhode Island natives curating each showcase have in store.
Many times bloggers, journalists, and anyone sharing their opinion in a public forum is guilty of overusing the superlative and end up turning it to hyperbole. “The greatest of all-time”, “Better than anything that has ever been created before” etc. etc. We’re all guilty of it and I know that I’m certainly no exception. Now I’m not going to say that Phosphorescent’s performance of “Song For Zula” on Jimmy Fallon last week was the best late night musical performance of all-time, but it was the best damn late night performance that I have seen in a long time. Remember My Morning Jacket’s version of “One Big Holiday” on Conan back in 2003? Well Phosphorescent was as transcendent on Fallon as MMJ was raw and epic on Conan (if that makes any sense…). Check out the full performance below to see for yourself and if you want to catch Phosphorescent in action make sure to grab your Friday ticket to Newport Folk Festival 2013 while they’re still available. It WILL sell out!
Just over two months ago we had the very distinct pleasure of exclusively announcing The Last Bison as the fourth act added to this year’s Newport lineup. Since then, over 50 artists have been added to the NFF slate of artists and The Last Bison has been quite busy themselves. February, March, and early April brought the band on their first national headlining tour including festival stops at Middle of the Map, Savannah Stopover, 35 Denton, and SXSW where they performed at the inaugural Newport Folk Festival showcase. March also delivered the release of the band’s LP Inheritance as well as an absolutely riveting cover of M83′s hit “Midnight City” (see below). Busy would be an understatement to describe the past two months in the life of The Last Bison.
Though the last few months surely felt like a blur for the band, the next three months will be dragging on for us as we anxiously await The Last Bison’s performance at the Newport Folk Festival. Until then we will take the liberty of indulging in the band’s beautiful arrangements, and the wonderfully distinct vocals of lead singer Ben Hardesty.
The Last Bison will perform on Friday July 26, and you can still get your Friday ticket here before they sell out (which they most certainly will)!
Coming across the country from Seattle for this year’s Newport Folk Festival is the wonderful chamber-pop group Hey Marseilles. Although they are making their first appearance on the Newport stage, the group’s newest album, Lines We Trace, is the perfect fit for the breezy summer setting of Fort Adams. I don’t know what exactly it is, but each time I listen to Lines I feel like I need to put on a sailor cap and take the helm of a massive sailboat. The album simply has a certain sea-faring aura to it, which is something that I imagine will be magnified immensely when performed live in the beautiful seaside backdrop provided at Fort Adams. Even the instrumental tracks like “Madrona” and “Demian” seem to be narrating a nautical journey, a journey that we are quite excited to have intersect with this year’s Newport Folk Festival.
Hey Marseilles will be performing on Friday July 26th along with John McCauley, The Mountain Goats, Feist plus many more artists and you can still get your Friday tickets here. Check out the hilarious video that the band created for their new record and make sure to grab your tickets while you still can!
Former Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman aka Father John Misty, may not exactly fit into the family friendly mold of most Newport Folk Festival artists, but his sharp as nails wit and tongue-in-cheek humor are sure to turn some heads at the Fort this summer. It’s no secret that we’re fans of Tillman’s work as we cited his most recent release, Fear Fun, as our #10 album of 2012 and his oddly perfect “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” was our choice for the best song of 2012. He’s no stranger to controversy and certainly enjoys being in the spotlight, but what matters most is that he makes some damn good music. Fear Fun blends elements of country, pop, folk, and so much more into a wildly psychedelic ride that will leave you asking for more. Produced by Newport veteran Jonathan Wilson, Fear Fun is a quirky yet enlightened collection of songs that will make fast fans out of any festival attendees that haven’t previously enjoyed the aural pleasure of Tillman’s work.
When local Boston rockers Kingsley Flood were revealed as part of this year’s Newport Folk Festival lineup we couldn’t have been more happy, check that, we were ELATED. If there was ever a band who worked their butts off and put in the time to take their career to the next level, that of the major summer festival, it’s these guys. It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Kinglsey Flood here at M&T, we caught up with them at the Nor’Easter Festival back in 2011, I joined the band on the trash can (don’t ask) at one of their EP release parties for Colder Still, and we featured a track from their newest release Battles on our playlist of the month for March 2013.
We’ve certainly enjoyed watching this band over the years as they continue to grow their reputation as one of the most energetic live bands in the regional Americana scene, and now we get to watch them on the stage at our favorite festival. Kingsley Flood will be performing on Friday July 26 at the Fort and you can (somehow) still get tickets here, while you check out a live performance of the new track “Strongman” below.
Can you smell it? Not the cigarette smoke and spilled bourbon on your jacket from last night’s show, the warm breeze off of the Narragansett Bay in July. It’s about that time of year again to kick off our annual series of Newport Folk Festival Spotlights, and what better way to start 2013 than with John McCauley. The Deer Tick frontman has been a fixture at the Fort in years past, so it’s only fitting to begin our Newport preview festivities with the native Rhode Islander. McCauley has brought his band Deer Tick as well as his folk-rock side project Middle Brother to the stages of Newport and this year he is being billed as a one man show. We all know that there are bound to be special guests and of course some Deer Tick mixed in, but what makes McCauley’s spot on the lineup so special is the unexpected. Oftentimes you never know what you’ll get from the wiry frontman and that’s why we know the crowd will flock to McCauley’s set on Friday to find out what he has in store.
Take a look at our interview with McCauley from Newport Folk Festival 2011 here and check out McCauley playing a solo version of one of our favorite Deer Tick songs “Ashamed” below.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We are beyond excited to be involved in the lineup announcement for our favorite festival. I got to write the paragraph below for the Newport Folk Festival blog to announce the news of The Last Bison joining the 2013 lineup. Previously announced artists include Andrew Bird, Shovels & Rope and The Lone Bellow. There is certainly more to come so keep tabs on M&T for all of your Newport Folk Fest news!
Going to a summer festival amongst a sea of strangers can be a bit overwhelming for most, but at Newport Folk Festival there’s no need to worry about getting lost in a crowd. Even as the festival has grown to a 3-day affair, selling out each of the last two years, one thing remains constant at Fort Adams–Family. The feeling of family permeates throughout the festival grounds and it is a feeling that is unrivaled on the summer festival circuit. It is also the reason why The Last Bison is the perfect addition to this year’s Newport lineup. Led by frontman Ben Hardesty, the septet from southeastern Virginia also includes Hardesty’s father Dan and younger sister Annah, brothers Jay and Andrew Benfante along with close friends Amos Housworth and Teresa Totheroh. This group of family and friends released one of our favorite EPs of 2012 with Inheritance, a beautifully layered set of tracks highlighted by gorgeous vocal harmonies and lush strings. The four tracks on Inheritance are epic, passionate, thoughtful, eloquent, and so much more. Needless to say we cannot wait to hear their breathtaking songs filling our ears at Fort Adams come July.