Tag Archives: Levon Helm

Newport Folk Festival Part 3: Overall Thoughts

Overall, the Folk Festival was a ton of fun and definitely worth attending.  I do think the ticket prices were a bit steep.  Supposedly, at least according to the Boston Globe, there were only 8,000 people on Saturday and 7,500 on Sunday.  I find that hard to believe as there seemed to be a whole lot more people there than that (and I’m not including the boats).  Regardless of how many people were in attendance, the festival was a great time.  I got to see a lot of new artists and a lot of current favorites.  A lot of people were upset by the fact that it wasn’t folk music.  However, the vast majority of the performers were influenced, at least in part, by folk music.  Some were folkier than others, but most of them definitely had a noticeable connection to folk music.

There was a little shopping area with lots of vendor tents selling their wares.  I wish they had invited more local artists rather than people from other states.  This would have been a great opportunity to showcase some of RI’s own artists who sell their stuff at the Providence Open Market and other local events.  The event was mostly corporate-free, though the whole VIP thing kind of bugged me.  There’s nothing worse than a bunch of yuppies showing up in their nice clothes hanging out in a special section.  Or having a section roped off in front of the soundboard that remains mostly empty because the VIP’s don’t care about the performers on the stage (though it was full for Buffett, and only Buffett).  I understand the need to support the festival and selling super expensive VIP tickets is one way to do it (and avoid seriously corporatizing the event), it’s not cool to prevent the real fans from being able to have the good seats by roping off a special VIP section.  It was empty with the exception of about 2 people during the Black Crowes set.  It’s that kind of thing that pisses me off.  Music has become too corporatized, even the most revered events, such as the Newport Folk Festival.  I did get a laugh out of people ruining their $300 shoes (no exaggeration) in the mud trying to escape while the true music lovers were enjoying the music and having an all-around good time regardless of what the weather brought.

Other than that, it was a good time.  I would definitely go again so long as the lineup is just as good.  I have also decided that I don’t care if I ever see Jimmy Buffett again.  This was a great show because of the opportunity to do things differently and collaborate, but it was too similar to the show I saw last summer.  I can understand the people who go every year to have a great time, but it’s not worth the price of his tickets.  I was able to get a 2 day ticket for the festival for just $50 more than the ticket to the Buffett show at Gilette (though I didn’t get the cheap tickets for his show because I wanted to have some chance at seeing the stage).

My favorite performances of the weekend (in no particular order):

You should check them out if you haven’t already.

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.

Schedule Posted for Folk Fest

The schedule was posted for the Newport Folk Festival.  I now have to figure out who I want to see.  Perhaps some of you readers know some of the acts and can point me in the right direction.

View Schedule

I plan on seeing the Cowboy Junkies, Trey (if he plays Runaway Jim, I will cream in my pants), and the Black Crowes on the first day.  I want to see both Richie Havens and Jakob Dylan, so I’ll likely watch half of each.

The second day is more confusing… I know I’m going to check out Levon Helm (The Band is probably my favorite group ever, aside from Phish, of course), though I will check out the first half of the Son Volt set, and I know we’ll end up at the Buffett set, completely skipping the Avett Brothers to hopefully scout out a good seat for Jimmy (pun intended).

This is my first music festival ever.  I wish they had set times the same for each stage, and no overlapping sets (though I guess that’s so they don’t end up with set breaks on all 3 stages at the same times).  If any of you readers wouldn’t mind taking a look at the schedule and give your suggestions in the comments, I’d greatly appreciate it.  When I have the time, I plan on looking up each of the artists and figuring out who sounds the most interesting.

I suppose I should also print out a copy of the schedule to bring with me so I know who it is I’m watching.  Anyway, thanks in advance for the suggestions (Jenny, I’m hoping you actually read this and make some suggestions).