Newport Folk Festival

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!

2013 Newport Folk Festival is on!

We are here in sunny/rainy/foggy/stormy/breezy (depending on what time you’re checking) lovely Newport, Rhode Island! For the past two days we have been soaking up the sights and sounds and even tastes that make up our favorite concentrated three days of non stop music, beautiful music! Newport Folk Festival of course is the star and anchor, but the revelry continues nightly with after shows (this year with Dawes and Friends at Jane Pickens Theater and nightly music hootenannies hosted by the boisterous and oh-so-fun! Deer Tick at the Newport Blues Cafe).

We’ve been documenting our special blend of Sis Diss experiences through images and words that will appear here and via our Twitter and Facebook outlets as well as the days carry on and will be shared soon. Until then, here are a few moments from the previous two days.

Looking ahead, looking forward | 2013 Newport Folk Festival

Sisters Dissonance has a history of roadtrip-itis. It is not unusual for us to travel to a new place that is a decent distance away for a show at least once, if not a few times each year. The goal: eliminate the 400 mile gap between us, soak up music we love, find good food and drink and culture, and explore a new location.

2013 is a bit different. Last July after attending the 2012 Newport Folk festival, my sister Ady and I decided on the spot that all of our traveling pennies would immediately be stashed and we named the Newport Folk Festival our sole 2013 long-distance travel destination.

Jim James and My Morning Jacket performing at Fort Stage as the rain rolls in

NFF 2012: Jim James/ My Morning Jacket, Fort Stage

{ Travel back in time to last year’s festival via our archive}
{ An Alphabetical Memoir of the 2012 Newport Folk Festival }

It’s no joke when I say the groundwork for our trip this year was laid less than a few weeks after we returned home from the festival last year. We also added a 2013 NFF countdown on this site back in August. Now here we are a mere 16 weeks away, bands are being announced on a rolling basis (that has been a bit like getting to open a giant gift every few days as the festival tweets and posts announcements as they are added to the schedule), and we are reveling in our decision. The excitement grows evermore!

The festival, despite the fact that the full line up was not announced before tickets were released, managed to sell out (very quickly) all 2 and 3-day passes, and single day passes for Saturday and Sunday. All that remains now is some single-day Friday tickets, which are still available via the Newport Folk Festival site (a-hemm-grab’em!). A testament to the adoration of the finest of festivals.

Among the line up this year are acts that fall into three categories: those that we have covered in the past including The Felice Brothers, Andrew Bird, John McCauley (Deer Tick), The Mountain Goats, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Spirit Family Reunion, and Shovels and Rope—all of whom we danced around in excitement as they were announced. We are looking forward to catching them all again.

Then there are the many acts that we have never had a chance to see live (Feist, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Justin Townes Earle, Colin Meloy, Lumineers to name but a few)—until now. For that we are equally excited. Finally, there are those that we’ve only just discovered thanks to NNF, that adds to this buildup of anticipation. (For me Bombino, Cold Specks, Lord Huron, and Trombone Shorty are among those calling!) I have no doubt every single act on the bill will be an amazing experience. The amount of energy and love and camaraderie that fills the air in Newport, RI on that very special folkin’ weekend is immeasurable and not fully defined on paper or in words. You just have to be there. And we anxiously await that moment when we have arrived there once again.

The 2013 Newport Folk Festival Lineup to date:
The Avett Brothers
Milk Carton Kids
Sarah Jarosz
Amanda Palmer
Berklee Gospel and Roots Choir
Old Crow Medicine Show
Blake Mills
Justin Towers Earle
Cold Specs
Bonny “Prince” Billy and Dawn McCarthy
Colin Meloy
Lord Huron
Beth Orton
Wheeler Brothers
Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls
Langhorn Slim and the Law
Black Prarie
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue
Hey Marseilles
The Felice Brothers
Tiff Merritt
Rayland Baxter
Iris Dement
Father John Misty
JD Mcpherson
Kingsley Flood
Hurrah for the Riff Raff
Jim James
Jason Isbell
Nicki Bluhm and the Gamblers
Spirit Family Reunion
Michael Kiwanuka
The Lumineers
The Last Bison
Andrew Bird
Shovels and Rope
The Lonely Bellow

(Yet to be announced are the NFF after shows…a whole other world unto themselves!)