As anyone who reads my tweets knows, I attended the Newport Folk Festival this past weekend. I skipped the opening night on Friday with Brian Wilson, but attended both Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, I was not able to see all the performances, but I did catch a lot of them. Please excuse the fact that I can’t remember setlists or any real details for many of the performances as I took in a lot of music over the course of the 2 days, in addition to lots of rain and sun. I’m writing this review in 3 parts. The first will be a general review of Saturday, the second will be of Sunday, and the third will be of my overall impression and any other thoughts
We arrived a little late on Saturday, arriving at the gates at 11:35, 5 minutes into the Cowboy Junkies set on the main stage, one I wanted to see (not having known anything about them other than that they’re supposed to be pretty good). I was very impressed by them and plan on buying some of their albums. The music was more rock-ish, though kind of an alt-folk/alt-country sound. The lead singer has a killer voice. We setup our chairs and settled in at the main stage where most of the performances I wanted to see would be held.
Following their set, we went over to the Harbor stage to check out Jakob Dylan. Unfortunately, his set started late (as we had wanted to see half of his and half of Richie Havens). His voice has come a long way since the first Wallflowers album. He sounds more like his father, though with a more melodic voice. He was awesome and the crowd seemed to love him. I didn’t recognize anything but “Three Marlenas” and a Bob Dylan tune, to which I can’t remember the name.
Headed over to the main stage to catch Richie Havens. We got there just as he was finishing up his set with “Freedom,” the Woodstock staple. Luckily, he came back to play an encore, which was a medley of something I can’t remember and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Richie Havens is a staple of folk fests and an absolutely enthralling performer. I managed to get his autograph on his latest album and my picture taken with him.
Following his set, we decided to find some food and wandered around and ended up at the Greek stand to get gyros, while we waited for Trey to come on. He came on and got the crowd going. Read my tweets for my version of the setlist (which isn’t completely accurate, but close). My favorites from his set were the Phish tunes. I’m not very impressed by a lot of his solo stuff. It’s just not quite as good. The best tunes were “Bathtub Gin,” “Wilson” (which had everyone chanting), “Sample in a Jar,” and “Chalkdust Torture”. He seemed to be having a great time, but didn’t really get things going until halfway through his set. He played a new song called “Peggy” and an old one he write with Tom Marshall many years ago that had never been performed called “If I Could Be a Sailor”. He said he had to sing it because of all the boats he was staring at from the stage.
During his set, it began to rain a bit and following his set, it was a torrential downpour with lots of heavy wind and lightning. Susan and I decided that we would stay (it was actually my decision), but would grab our stuff and bring it to the car to stay dry (didn’t want my camera, phone, or wallet to be soaked). We walked it to the car because the line for the shuttle was long. Dropped it off and just as we got there, the shuttle was just getting to the lot. We took it back and enjoyed the rest of the day. The Marleys were supposed to be on next, but their bus got stuck on the bridge and the brought the American Babies up on stage. I really enjoyed the couple songs I heard from them, kind of a rootsy rock. When the Marleys made it, the rain had started to die off and eventually it was nice again. By the time The Black Crowes took the stage late, the sun was out. Unfortunately, they couldn’t play an encore, but their set was awesome.
We walked back to the car, having dried of a bit, but our feet were sore and wet. We decided to go out to dinner and went to Coddington Brewing in Middletown. I’ll give that its own post.