Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Newport Folk Festival 2011 Preview

This weekend I'll be heading up to Newport, RI for their annual Folk Festival. If you're unfamiliar with the Festival, you can read about it's extensive history starting all the way back in in 1959 right HERE.

I've been invited by my friend Todd a couple times as he's been a regular attendee but I just haven't been able to pull it off until this year. Some of my friends were able to join him last year and they came back raving about the weekend, I knew I had to make it happen this year.

I'll be heading up with a big crew to take in the weekend at Fort Adams State Park and I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to cover the festival. When I first saw the lineup a few months ago I knew I had to make it up there as it was a great mix of bands I had seen, bands I dug but hadn't yet seen, and some bands I had just read/heard about recently. Add in a great venue on the water and it seems like a perfect weekend to take in some great music.

I figured I'd give some recommendations of bands that I've seen or plan on seeing over the weekend. With so many great options, it's impossible to hit everything but Newport Folk Festival has assembled a tremendous lineup and it's pretty difficult to go wrong at any point this weekend. One word of advice, I'd wear some comfortable shoes because you're going to want to move around quite a bit to see some great acts. Okay, here we go......


12:35 - TYPHOON (Harbor Stage): Tough call here with Typhoon playing basically the same time slot as The Felice Brothers but I'll be staked out at the Harbor Stage. I first found out about Typhoon early in 2011 when I was sent their EP "A New Kind of House". From the first listen, I thought it was as good as anything I had heard in a long time. I tried researching the band a bit but they weren't on tour and things were pretty quiet at the time. They ended up getting invited to SXSW and the reviews I read said they were fantastic. I've literally been trying to see this 11-piece band for about six months so I'm thrilled to catch them in Newport (and again in NYC next week). Check out "The Honest Truth" below.

1:40 - FREELANCE WHALES (Quad Stage): I've been following these guys for a couple years now and definitely plan on catching their set. Even if you don't think you know them, chances are you've heard the Freelance Whales' song "Generator^First Floor" in a recent Starbucks Ad. Their album "Weathervanes" came out a bit ago and is definitely worth getting, some great songs on there. I finally got to see them at Coachella earlier this year and they were excellent. Here's a video of their song "Hannah" that I recorded at the show.

2:00 - GOGOL BORDELLO (Fort Stage): If you haven't seen these guys (or even if you have), they are a MUST SEE. One of the best live bands I've ever seen. Few bands match the energy of Gogol Bordello in concert, just a really unique experience. I've written a lot about them over the last couple of years, and even met lead singer Eugene Hutz one night in NYC a couple years ago. I'm just a big fan and think that anyone making the trip this weekend should make sure they catch at least part of this set. Here's a clip of "Wonderlust King" I took at Coachella earlier this year.

2:55 - DELTA SPIRIT (Quad Stage): Lead singer Matt Vazquez will be pulling double-duty performing with Delta Spirit along with his other project, Middle Brother. I had heard a bunch of their material and finally got to see them at Coachella this year. Here's a clip of "St Francis" that my buddy Chris took at the festival.

4:15 - TEGAN & SARA (Quad Stage): I'm a fan of these sisters from up north. I first saw them in 2007 out at Neil Young's Bridge School Festival in California. I had friend playing the weekend so I was lucky enough to tag along and meet these ladies and a bunch of other bands. They're extremely talented and I also thought they were just damn nice people, really enjoyed speaking with them and have followed their career since that time. I think they have some great songs, and particularly love their album "The Con". Here's a clip of my favorite song by them, "Dark Comes Soon".... I'd imagine their set will be something like this.

6:05 - THE DECEMBERISTS (Fort Stage): Here's a pretty big band that I have not seen in concert before. I know some of their stuff but honestly haven't listened to them a ton. I know a lot of people that really like them, they seem to have a big following an will be playing one of the headlining slots on Saturday night. Here's one of their songs that I really dig, "Down By The Water" (and I wouldn't be surprised to see Gillian Welch hang around after her set to join these guys).


11:30 - BROWN BIRD (Harbor Stage): Here's a band I've only recently heard about but I definitely like what I've listened to. They've got one of the first slots on Sunday so it's a great opportunity to get out there and check out some early sets. Take a listen to this track, "Ragged Old Town"

1:40 - TRAMPLED BY TURTLES (Quad Stage): I just started listening to these guys at the end of 2010 so I haven't had a chance to see them yet. Definitely looking forward to seeing them as I really like the songs I've heard. Check out the track, "Wait So Long"

3:00 - JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE (Quad Stage): This is definitely one of the sets I'm most looking forward to over the weekend. I've really gotten into Justin's stuff over the last year and am looking forward to finally catching one of his live sets. My favorite song is probably a tune called, "Midnight at the Movies" but I'm also hoping for some more up-tempo songs, something like "Harlem River Blues".

4:20 - MIDDLE BROTHER (Quad Stage) vs THE HEAD & THE HEART (Harbor Stage): This would be my "steel cage match" of the weekend, two acts I'd really like to see playing at the same exact time. Middle Brother is made up of three lead singers of other bands; John McCauley (Deer Tick), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes) & Matt Vazquez (Delta Spirit). I've seen Deer Tick & Dawes numerous times, love both bands and saw Middle Brother perform in Brooklyn earlier this year. Here's a video I took of their song "Blue Eyes".

The Head and The Heart are getting some major buzz. They recently played the Mercury Lounge in NYC and the tickets sold out in the blink of an eye. I think they'll have a big crowd for their set and I'm going to try to swing between the two and hopefully catch a bit of both. These guys have some great songs, one of my favorites is "Down In The Valley".

4:45 - ELVIS COSTELLO (Fort Stage): As if Middle Brother and The Head & The Heart wasn't enough of a tough decision, Elvis Costello takes the stage about half way through their sets. I'm going to do my best to run over and catch the tail end of his set. Regardless, if you like music, you've got some amazing options between 4pm and 6pm, great acts all over the venue. Here's one of my favorite Elvis tunes, "Pump It Up" (still sounds great!)

5:40 - M WARD w/ DAWES (Quad Stage): This should be another great set, M Ward with Dawes as his backing band. I like M Ward's stuff but he's another act that I haven't seen in person yet. I'm also hoping that they find a way to mix in some Dawes tunes, easily one of my favorite new bands from the last couple of years. If you don't have their two albums, go buy them immediately, fantastic albums. Here's a recent clip of "Big Bird" with Dawes backing M Ward.

Well, think that about wraps it up. As you can see, there's a ton of great options that should keep any music lover busy throughout the weekend. There's a bunch of good bands I didn't even get to mention but I have to give a ton of credit to the Festival organizers for putting together such a strong lineup. I'll have some pictures, videos, and hopefully a slew of stories upon my return next week. As always, thanks for reading!

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