The Newport Folk Festival has become a Paste favorite over the years, ever since we took over part of the ruins of Fort Adams to record a series of Paste Sessions in 2012 and 2013 with everyone from Amanda Palmer and Beth Orton to Of Monsters and Men and First Aid Kit. This year we sent Paste Studio’s Brad Wagner and Juan M Soria to photograph the festival and share some highlights.
Juan and I reached the Newport Folk Fest on Saturday and were instantly bowled over by Jade Bird’s stage presence. We saw SUSTO rip the Harbor Stage before heading back to the main stage for Gregory Alan Isakov. We walked into the Museum Stage just in time to catch Ramblin’ Jack Elliot telling a tale about how Bob Dylan released the song “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” into Elliot’s capable custody.
Ramblin’ Jack Elliot
Gregory Alan Isakov
MC Taylor from Hiss Golden Messenger, Erin Rae, Jerry Bernhardt, Doug Hall & Brian Schwartz gamely posed for a group photo with me and Juan in front of the fort.
MC Taylor, Erin Rae and friends
One of the most interesting discoveries of the weekend was Walker Lukens’ Song Confessional. These guys travel the country trailing a church-style confessional booth on wheels. Participants tell a story in front of a mic. The Confessional crew chooses their favorites, then assigns the stories to various songwriters who have six hours to write and record a song inspired by the story. The whole thing is turned into a fascinating podcast.
Walker Lukens’ Song Confessional
The Collaboration at the end of Saturday’s program was hosted by Brandi Carlile and featured Judy Collins, Sheryl Crow, Linda Perry, Yola, The Highwomen, Lucy Dacus and more. The crowd absolutely erupted when Dolly Parton took the stage to close out the show. Carlile and Parton did a goosebump-y rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” then everybody joined on the most estrogen-fueled “9 to 5” of all-time.
Dolly Parton Leads the collaboration
Judy Collins and Brandi Carlile
Amanda Shires and Maren Morris of the Highwomen
Sheryl Crow, Maggie Rogers and Yola
Sunday’s program ruled exactly as much as Saturday’s did, immediately evidenced by The Infamous Stringdusters and Courtney Marie Andrews.
The Infamous Stringdusters
Courtney Marie Andrews
Dawes & Friends ruled as expected. And I caught Jason Isbell’s guest appearance. We met with the guys from Dawes for a portrait, but arm wrestling seemed like more fun. So Taylor and Griffin arm wrestled on a picnic bench. It was indeed more fun than a regular portrait.
Taylor Goldsmith and Jason Isbell
Janet Weiss and Taylor Goldsmith
Our Native Daughters (Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell) brought everybody at the Quad Stage to their feet.
Rhiannon Giddens and Allison Russell from Our Native Daughters
Leyla McCalla from Our Native Daughters
We’d heard the rumors that Dolly would be there, but NOBODY guessed Kermit The Frog would be the surprise guest on Sunday evening. Yet there he was alongside Jim James and Janet Weiss doing “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie.
Jim James and Kermit the Frog
Another outstanding Newport Folk Fest is in the books, and we’re looking forward to 2020.
Lake Street Dive
Zachary Carothers from Portugal the Man
The Milk Carton Kids
Ben Jaffe from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band
If I Had a Song Songbook
Watch a 2012 performance from First Aid Kit, recorded at the Paste Ruins at Newport Folk Festival: