Monday, August 6, 2007

Newport Folk Festival

The Newport Folk fest on Saturday was as much a traditional “folk” festival as the New Orleans Jazzfest is strictly a jazz festival, which is to say purists probably wouldn’t call it a folk festival at all, but it was fine by me. There are plenty of other folk fests around, including the New Bedford Summerfest in early July. While some of the folkier acts, like singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright and some Canadian fiddlers played on the 2 smaller stages, the lineup on the mainstage consisted of Dirty Dozen Brass band, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, John Butler Trio, North Mississippi Allstars, and headliners the Allman Brothers band. When DDBB opened the festivities at 11:30, many people were just getting there. This year they did something new, setting up reserved seats on half of the field, which were pretty empty for the first few acts, but it made the general admission area much less crowded. It must have been strange for the bands to look out and see people on only one side of the audience and in the back.

DDBB did a good New Orleans style set and there were a few enthusiastic jazzfest-vets in the crowd, attempting to get that secondline vibe going….but we were outnumbered by the chair sitters. At least it was easy to get some good photos early in the day.

After that I went to see a couple of other bands on the outer stages - Martha Wainwright, who had a nice voice but was kind of depressing lyrically, then the Lonesome Brothers, who were quirky and fun hillbilly rock&roll.
Caught most of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, who rocked. An announcement was made from the mainstage, something to the effect of “hey, a lot of us here in the stage crew are from New Orleans (because Festival Productions does the Newport festivals too) and New Orleans is still really messed up, but you all should come visit! Come down for jazzfest!” This drew cheers from those of us who’ve been there, but I’m not so sure it would have made anyone else want to go - it was kind of a mixed message.

Fort Adams is a state park and there is usually no alcohol allowed, but this year they tried a “beer garden” way out near the water. The line was a mile long, I heard people say it was about an hour wait just to get your ID checked for the privilege of drinking a $6 beer so far away from the stage it didn’t seem worth it. With Dunkin Donuts as the sponsor, there were plenty of fruity cold beverages for sale at regular D&D prices, And of course there was Del’s (RI frozen lemonade) and other beverages which could easily be made more festive with a little pre-planning.

After grooving to the John Butler trio we went to hang in the shade near the back with some friends. From here we could see all the free-loading boat-people enjoying the fest from the water.

On my way to see Assembly of Dust on one of the outer stages I noticed a crowd at the Gibson guitar trailer, where Grace Potter & the nocturnals were doing an unannounced acoustic set. I could barely get near there to see, but I could hear pretty well and was able to snap a few photos by holding my camera up over head. Then I got a front row seat for a few AOD songs - it was too hot too dance much! I really like that band, especially the keyboard jams.

Allman Brothers came on just after 5 pm and played almost 2 1/2 hours.... Luther Dickinson joined them on stage for a version of "The Weight". "Melissa" was nice....We considered leaving a little early just to have an easier time getting out of the traffic but once I heard the first few notes of Mountain Jam, I knew I wasn't going anywhere. That's one of my favorite ABB songs.. so what if we had to wait an hour in the parking lot then it took us almost another hour to wind our way through the narrow streets of Newport to get home. It was worth it.
We were going to go back on Sunday but decided against it - the Newport festival is nice but it sure is a hassle getting in and out of there! So we went to the Seafood Fest at Ninigret park (held at the same place as Rhythm and Roots) but it was kind of lame so we only stayed a little while then just went to hang out at the beach, listening to the re-broadcast of some of the festival highlights from Saturday on WMVY 92.7, including the whole Allman Bros set, then went to the Mews Tavern in Wakefield. Many of the Newport performances are available to listen to on MVY radio online for free, including AOD. The ABB set is going to be available for download on Thursday on this other website called Hittin the Note.

The rest of my pictures from Newport can be viewed here .

Newport Folk Fest 2007
This is the schedule for Fall River Celebrates America, next weekend. Looking forward to Sunday, when the Iguanas and Sarah Borges will be on the Narrows stage, and Los Lobos on Saturday. But there are good bands there all weekend.


Bry said...

Nice review! Hi to Joe....


shawna said...

Hey Lisa, I heard you were at Newport. Yes I worked on Saturday - got the call late on Thursday night.
55 crew and guests for ABB and only 1 person working and lots of items on the rider. I actually got Warren Haynes to autograph the list. I should scan that, cause I'm giving it away. My favorites for the weekend - well 1st Julie Lee since I was there with her, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Assembly of Dust, Jon Butler Trio, Amos Lee, Cheryl Wheeler, Grace Potter and DDBB. I don't have as many pics as you, but I'll try posting them somewhere...Sunday in Fall River looks good, maybe I'll see ya there. Shawna