Overview | Newport Folk Festival 2013

by Shan
photos by Ady

Deer Tick at their self-hosted after show at Newport Blues Cafe (Sunday)

It’s late Sunday night. Ady and I are at the Newport Blues Cafe for night three of the Deer Tick after parties—which, in addition to being the perfect night cap to the days spent at the Newport Folk Festival, are also a fundraiser for the Newport Festivals Foundation and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. It’s crowded, elbow to elbow, but without anyone being grumpy about it, a testament to the evening’s mood. Everyone is here to dance and howl and have fun. Ady and I drift around the venue for the four plus hours of the event: downstairs and up, at the bar, at the front of stage, above the stage looking down through the ceiling viewing box, dancing up the steps, all the while exploring, listening and watching from different vantage points. We try to shake up our experience up in any way we can just for the sheer fun of it. I am relaxed and purposely let myself be jostled by the comings and goings of the other patrons, feeling a bit like a tiny ship anchored in rollicking waves, as the sounds from some of our favorite bands rise from the stage. I become curious to see who will randomly bump into me next, because every interaction has thus far proven to be entertaining (even when I am bumped into and spill my beer onto my and the person next to me’s foot). Meanwhile, various members of bands that played at the festival mill around the venue, and everyone comes together in a great big sing-along.

Felice Brothers at the Deer Tick after show, Newport Blues Cafe (Sunday)

Deer TickThe Felice Brothers and other musicians jump on and off stage in various configurations to play for the still music-hungry crowd (this, after three days of non-stop music already ingested at the Festival, as well as the nightly post-Fest after shows). The night ends with Deervana emerging to play “Something In the Way,” leaving me teary-eyed, nostalgic (I won’t give away my age just yet), and then with a sweet “Goodnight Irene” the entire bar seals the envelope of the 2013 Newport Folk Festival in unison.

Even later still as we forage for after-show pizza, Ady and I revisit our second and so very satisfying adventure in beautiful Newport, Rhode Island. It dawns on me as we talk that the feeling of the bobbing ship-in-the-harbor I felt within the microcosm of the Deer Tick after show was precisely the kind of experience we consciously set out to carve out for ourselves on a large scale while at the Newport Folk Festival. We had decided early on, after seeing a jam packed schedule that necessitated cloning or teleportation devices to allow us to be everywhere we wanted to be and when, that we would let go of any sense of urgency trying to accomplish this. Of course we would follow the music and use the schedule to point us to where some of our favorite bands would be to form the overall arc of our experience, but

Ady accidentally meets Hi-Five Guy en route to Lord Huron’s set at the Quad Stage

we also resolved to ramble along and let ourselves be carried away by whim and whimsy and any other unpredictable factors—beckoning sounds emanating from another stage, weather, hunger and hydration levels, Newport Folk Festival app pop up notifications (a must have in bringing that surprise element to the festival, read “Felice Brothers at the family tent in 4 minutes!”), Ady’s brush with Hi Five Guy, and even the cryptic “Look up!” message from Deertick’s twitter account— to heavily influence our decision making.

We fielded curve balls to our plans all weekend long, and we were rewarded at every turn (this is as much thanks to the curators, producers and board of advisers of the Newport Folk Festival and their selection process as it is a testament to the caliber and musicianship level of the artists that are chosen to perform). The music is diverse, yet there is always some silken thread tying every artist to the roots of folk (Beck winning with the most creative tie-in, introducing the synthesizer about to be unleashed for “Loser” as an 80’s folk instrument).

In three days time we, the NFF-goers, took it all in from the three main stages (Harbor, Quad and Fort in order from small to large) and three intimate and very unique environments (Museum stage, which is literally a 90-some seat room with a stage set in an old

Spirit Family Reunion, Quad Stage

Joe Fletcher, Museum Stage during his Nashville to Newport curated show

Amanda Palmer at Paste Ruins (featuring Sennheiser’s sound system)

schoolhouse style building converted to a little museum; the very cool Paste Ruins, literally tucked within the walls of Fort Adams, where artists stroll in for quick 2-3 song sets, with incredible sound engineering by Sennheiser; and the Late July Family Tent hosted by Elizabeth Mitchell with special pop up guests throughout the weekend). In the end, we experienced so much music, so many styles, from so many different bands it felt as though we were handed a mix tape of the highest order.

We are still working our way through our photos and notes from the weekend so that we may document our experiences more in depth. We will continue to share them with you here and on our Facebook and Twitter accounts in the days to come. Meanwhile, many of Ady’s photo sets are already being rolled out in our Flicker gallery, including sets from Spirit Family Reunion and The Felice Brothers at both the Quad Stage and the Late July Family Tent, which you can find via those links.

. . . more to come!

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