Newport Folk Festival Part 2: Sunday

When Sunday came, we were so exhausted from the previous day that we ended up sleeping in a bit, but I still wanted to get on the road.  We left a lot later than I had planned, but still made it to the festival site much earlier than the previous day.  We actually had a great parking space in a lot much closer to the site than where we parked on Saturday.  I imagine this was because the majority of the people wanting to attend Sunday’s show were only going to see Jimmy Buffett, which, in my opinion, was quite sad because they missed out on a ton of great music.

We got there and settled in and listened to Willy Mason, a local musician from Martha’s Vineyard.  We were so impressed by his music, we bought one of his CD’s and got his autograph (and I told him he had to play Providence soon).  He had kind of this folky/country/rootsy sound with someone playing the saw.  He’s definitely family oriented with his brother on drums and he brought out his parents to help sing a song (his mother told him to remind everyone that they were selling CD’s).

After that, I wanted to see The Honors on the Harbor Stage.  They were nothing special.  In fact, I wish I had skipped their act to see all of Brandi Carlile.  She had an amazing voice and a great band.  We were able to catch a couple songs and her encore after we decided The Honors weren’t worth hanging around for (even their stage presence was awful).  Susan ended up buying the CD from Brandi Carlile and got her autograph as well.

We were wandering around and I decided to check out Richard Julian while we ate our hot dogs.  He was on the smallest of the 3 stages.  He reminded me a bit of Paul Simon.  His voice was great and his music fun, with some nifty lyrics.  He had a great song about traveling the world and never being able to get away from the United States.  Unfortunately, he didn’t have any albums at the table.

We left his tent to see the end of Calexico, which had this mariachi/latin feel to it.  They were a lot of fun, but really freakin’ loud (I don’t know if it was just the guy on the sound board or the band itself, but it was loud).

Following Calexico was Gillian Welch, probably the only truly folk singer of the entire festival.  She was just awesome.  Lots of folk, a little bluegrass, and a great voice.

Following her, I wanted to catch some of Son Volt.  We ended up listening to some of it.  They were good, though I don’t know why they were invited (other than to draw people).  I enjoyed the few songs I heard before headed back to the main stage for Levon Helm.

Levon was the highlight of the festival for me.  He was spot on.  His band was spot on.  He had his daughter singing and playing drums when he wasn’t.  He had Larry Campbell on guitar, Teresa Williams on acoustic, and brought out pretty much everyone from earlier in the day.  He brought out Little Sammy Davis for a few songs.  He played some of his newer stuff, some traditional stuff (“Deep Elem Blues”), and a bunch of stuff from The Band (“The Weight,” “Rag Mama Rag,” “Ophelia,” and some others that I can’t remember).

Finally, came Jimmy Buffett.  The crowd grew in size and the Parrotheads were all over the place (that means lots of frat boys and middle aged people acting like frat boys).  They must have passed out Landshark Lager flags to all the boats because they all had one.  This was a much better setting for Buffett than Gilette Stadium.  He opened up with just him and his guitar playing “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw”.  He seemed to have a great time and played all the usuals, as well as some other tunes I was glad to hear, including “Come Monday” and “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes”.  He brought out Jake Shimabukuro, a ukelelist from Hawaii who had played the smaller stage earlier in the day, for most of the set.  The encore was “One Particular Harbor” followed by the band leaving the stage and Jimmy telling a story about how Dylan plugged in and was boo’d at the festival many years ago and how he was honored to hear that Dylan had played “A Pirate Looks at 40” in Hawaii.  So he was going to play acoustic for us and do a tribute to Dylan.  He played “Blowin’ in the Wind,” a fitting song considering the lyrics and what this country is going through.  That was the highlight of his set for me, though a close second was “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” played by Shimabukuro and the steel drummer.

We left and headed straight home afterwards and just got take out in Providence for dinner and then passed out.

3 thoughts on “Newport Folk Festival Part 2: Sunday”

  1. That’s nice. I found them to be kind of annoying and their pretentious stage presence made it that much worse. Brandi Carlile was light years better. The Honors were one of two Our Stage winners I heard a bit of. The others, American Babies (who really got the crowd going), were also a million times better. There just wasn’t anything special about The Honors.

    However, I will admit that their studio stuff sounds way better than they did live. They just looked like they were too cool to be there. Live music is about more than just the sound. Their attitude affected the sound apparently.

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