. . . will not stay in Newport. The memories live on and become the stuff legends are made of! Ask anyone who has been there, and you’ll need to sit down with a drink or two while the tales pour out.
Two events this year, Nashville to Newport and the Deer Tick after parties, stand out as prime examples of what is at the heart of the Newport Folk Festival—which is its reputation as a massive celebration of the ‘art and soul of music through collaboration, and the contagious energy it brings to both the performers and the audience; it’s what makes us reminisce so hard, spending half the year dwelling in memories of this year’s festival, and the other half pining for next year’s.
This year, those smart/lucky enough to secure a seat within the walls of the 99-seat Museum Stage for Nashville to Newport were treated to an event demonstrating all of the above. Joe Fletcher introduced his brainchild, the non-stop 4-hour long musical showdown filled with bands and artists who live in, relocated to or in some way have an affiliation with Nashville, Tennessee.
Fletcher and his band, the Wrong Reasons, kicked it off as we eagerly awaited the arrival of John McCauley, who joined them on stage before taking the stage solo. From there bands and artists traded spots and instruments as the likes of beautiful songstress Amanda Shires and her husband Jason Isbel, Andrew Combs, Bobby Bare Jr, Patrick Sweeny and others jumped on and off stage with one another. Joe Fletcher also introduced his pals from Philadelphia, Toy Soldiers, for a quick set and then closed the show with everyone on stage for what was easily one of the biggest highlights of the festival for both Ady and I, and without a doubt for everyone else in that room. (As a side note, as Ady observed, Fletcher, a former school teacher, must have tapped into some major organizational skills that enabled him to orchestrate this elaborate musical show-and-tell with such ease and grace!)
Then there are the Deer Tick curated after parties. While not officially a part of the Newport Folk Festival, they are undeniably intertwined into the fabric of the weekend’s experience. There were three of them this year, held at the Newport Blues Cafe nightly after the evening wrap-ups at Fort Adams State Park, and they are in essence a way to extend the revelries going on in and around town for the festival as much as humanly possible. Ady and I were able to secure tickets for two of the three nights, a feat considering the shows, highly anticipated and sought after by the die hard don’t-want-to-give-up-the-night music fanatic folk and Deer Tick fans alike, sell out in a matter of moments.
Once again, a parade of musicians, most of whom spent the day performing at the festival, filled the stages and joined the audience as everyone filed into the small bar (one with a very fun layout), all crammed in together to dance the night away. Deer Tick and friends helped the sea-sided evening dissolve into the late night with friends like the always, always amazing Felice Brothers, everywhere-man Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), , Bobby Bare Jr, and Langhorne Slim and other key NFF personnel. Night three ushered out the festival for the 2013 year in a big way—a massive party where Deer Tick also premiered their forthcoming album, Negativity, from start to finish—yet another event in which stage and bar became a wall to wall conglomerate of human balls of energy. Already a fan of John McCauley and Deer Tick, after seeing John McCauley’s solo performances at the festival and attending the after shows, Ady and I walked away fanatics.
And did you know, besides all of this, an entire three days of crazy, wonderful events happened at the Newport Folk Festival that I haven’t even touched. Those stories will continue to trickle out as we spend the rest of this year reminiscing and pouring through our photo albums, and we will of course share those memories from our perspective, here.