Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mic Check: Newport Folk Festival 2012, Day 1, 07/28/12




Saturday of the festival. It was kind of hard to believe that we were back at Fort Adams again, only this time, without the added stress of managing two kids. It was a beautiful morning - slightly overcast and not too hot. We hardly had to wait in line at all to get inside, which was a nice change from last year (we stood in line for about an hour and a half in the blazing heat, with 2 small kids that were bored and complaining). 
Can we further discuss how nice it was to be there without kids to worry about?



brown bird

Did I mention that we totally stood behind them during the Deer Tick show on Friday night?
Because that is a fact.

We started the day off with one of our favorite Rhode Island-based bands, brown bird. We were thrilled that they made it all the way to the Fort stage this year to open the festival! They are always incredible to hear live, and I was excited to get up close to the front of the stage to snap a few pics and check out Dave's simultaneous guitar and kick-drum skills. Can you believe that he shaved his beard??? Apparently it was time to set it free (as a bird? PUNS YOU GUYS). I can't stress enough how badly you need to try to see them. Do it.

Highlight: 
"Bilgewater" (MY FAVORITE!!!)

Robert Ellis

What I'm getting at is that he's so good.

We first became enamored with Robert Ellis on a night in March when he opened for Jonny Corndawg. We became further obsessed with him after watching his set at Newport. This man knows how to play a guitar, and he writes some of the most beautiful and sad and wonderful songs we've ever heard. We were thrilled for him to make his Newport debut on the Quad stage, and he had a great set (and, stay tuned, a pretty incredible weekend). His new not-yet-titled song still doesn't have a title, and it's still one of my favorite things. I count myself lucky to have heard it live again. We love you, Robert!

Highlights: 
"The TV Song"
Untitled song about how he hates being away from his wife (TEARS)


Blind Pilot in the Paste Ruins
Leather ottomans? A carpet? BEAN BAG CHAIRS??? What even...

Last year, you might recall that Paste set up a little recording area inside of the ruins of the Fort. This year they stepped up their production JUST A BIT. HELLO! As the stage was changing over after Robert Ellis' set, we wandered over and caught Blind Pilot recording a song. We definitely had a much better view, and even though there were headphones that you could use to hear the recording directly, we preferred to hear them with naked ears. Delightful.

Jonny Fritz (and friends)
Don't call him Corndawg.

We love us some Jonny Corndawg. I mean, Jonny FRITZ, as he would now prefer to be known. It is, after all, his name. He put on a rocking set with his bud Taylor Goldsmith (you know, from Dawes) backing him up on guitar. John McCauley showed up to help belt out "Middle Brother" when the time came, which was pretty awesome. Jonny puts on a show that is so much fun, but a lot of his songs are also true country-style-sad. You can't help but sing along while thinking to yourself how badly the man needs a hug. 

Highlights: 
"Chevy Beretta"
"Middle Brother"
"Goodbye Summer"



First Aid Kit in the Paste Ruins

The husband is pretty into Swedish duo First Aid Kit, so when we wandered back to the Paste area after Jonny's set, he was pretty excited to see them there. I won't discuss the fact that they were both born in the 90s, because I really don't want to feel old. We missed their actual set, but we did catch them walking around the grounds a couple of times. Sadness.

Hey! Look at my Meatbagz! I love this thing.


Alabama Shakes

What is there to say about Alabama Shakes? They rock and they rock hard. Brittany Howard is a goddess. If you get to hear them live in your lifetime, you are a lucky mofo. The Fort was packed for their set, and everybody sang along to "Hold On." Pretty much amazing, y'all.

Highlights: 
"Goin' to the Party"
"Hold On"
a new song, the name of which I'm not sure they mentioned

Greek wrap from the falafel man. They do it right. 

Insert reference to "I'm On A Boat."

This year, there was a fourth venue that was added to the festival. A small stage and some folding chairs were set up inside of the sailing museum, offering an incredibly intimate setting for some solo and small group acts. We were impressed with the way that it all functioned: you had to stand in line to get into the museum stage, which opened up right before the performance was to begin. After each performance, the entire area was emptied, then changed over for the next act. This ensured that people weren't sitting in there all day, more or less hogging seats (which is pretty much what goes down at the Harbor and Quad stages). This means that you really need to commit yourself to the artist that you're waiting in line for, because in addition to waiting for upwards of an hour in some cases, you're also deciding to give this act your full attention for their entire set. We support all of these things, for this very reason:

Frank Fairfield

It's accurate to say that I nearly fell out of my chair when Frank Fairfield started to play his fiddle. The man is otherworldly. There were times that he was playing with his eyes completely shut. How does one do that??? His repertoire spans the globe and time itself, ranging from traditional American songs to waltzes to jigs brought to the US from Ireland. And then he picked up his banjo. We were beside ourselves with his performance. All of this music is in his mind, and he seems to play it so effortlessly, keeping time by stamping his foot. We spoke with him and his wife for a minute afterwards, and they were lovely. I'm 84% convinced that he is a Time Lord. It is my mission in life to watch him perform live as many times as money and time will allow. 

Highlights:
All of the things. He is incredible. 


This was the line to see Ben Sollee, who played in the museum after Frank Fairfield. 40 MINUTES BEFORE HIS SET. The line got much longer, and there were many disappointed peeps who didn't make it in.

Dawes

Clearly, we love Dawes. CLEARLY. If you don't love Dawes, you need to reexamine them. Particularly Taylor. You can kind of make him out there - he's the one in the blue shirt, standing in front of the microphone. It is pretty awesome that they made it to the Fort stage this year, and we greatly enjoyed catching the end of their set. More on Dawes later...

Highlights:
"A Little Bit of Everything" (this song makes my cry EVERY TIME I CAN'T HANDLE IT)
"From A Window Seat"

Why can't I be closer to you????

After this, we wandered back to the Quad and sat down to listen to a bit of Iron and Wine. The husband checked the weather on his phone and discovered that a pretty nasty looking storm was rolling in, so we made the super tough (but ultimately wise) choice to leave the grounds. This meant that we didn't get to see any of My Morning Jacket (SOB), but it also meant that we didn't get trapped in the parking lot for 2 hours when they basically shut everything down early and everyone tried to leave en masse (SCORE). We also gave up our tickets to the Backstage BBQ Benefit, which we heard also got shut down early, which no doubt sucked for everyone involved. In retrospect, we were glad to have the downtime, because we could never have predicted the absolutely epic evening that lay ahead of us.

Stay tuned for our Saturday night at the Blues Cafe.

Scariest. Restrooms. EVAR.
I did not go inside. I value my life.

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