Newport Folk Festival 2009 Day One

2009 is the 50th Year of Newport Folk
Photographic Evidence / On Further Review

by Sean Hafferty and Ryan Spaulding

GEORGE WEIN'S FOLK FESTIVAL 50 - With memories of last year's rain at Newport, we arrived with high hopes of the perfect day. Our expectations were more than met with both the weather and the phenomenal performances that unfolded in Newport. What follows below are Newport Folk Festival Day One (August 1st) photographs from Ryan's Smashing Life photographer Sean Hafferty - an impressive shooter who keeps getting better from one assignment to the next.... We are hoping the images he captured from these magical sets prove to be as powerful at tell the story as the music was for us. Enjoy!

The Decemberists

Colin Meloy asks the crowd to sing along
Photos by Sean Hafferty

After much consideration, I have decided that my favorite memory of the Folk Festival came near the end of Day One. I feel treated to be one of the thousands of people singing along with the Decemberists during Sons and Daughters. The band has played a set noticeably devoid of tracks from their new album, Hazards of Love, and for Newport they focused on fan favorites. From the side of the main stage I looked out upon thousands of reverent, smiling faces singing, "Here all the bombs fade away..." The line would be repeated time and again, gaining power and emotion from the collective tide. I had chills.

"Sons and Daughters"
from the Crane Wife album

Added bonus from this performance: The Decemberists performed a fun theatrical piece artfully recreating Dylan going electric in '65. Funny as hell and absolutely unreal!

RSL Streaming Photo Album
The Decemberists at Newport Folk

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg was another favorite from Day One. Bragg entertained the crowd and, as always, served to raise awareness of topic issues. I entered the expansive Fort Stage crowd and watched from afar. Billy Bragg discussed the importance of having meaning in our words when we choose to speak, lamenting the popularity of 'meaningless newspeak' giving us examples of "democratic capitalism" and "military intelligence." The crowd applauded his insights. Children wound around the legs and blankets of the crowd as sailboats slide by silently under cloudless skies. From the stage, Bragg won over my heart with back-to-back winners; "Goodbye, Goodbye" and "Keep Fightin'"

RSL Streaming Photo Album
Billy Bragg at Newport Folk

Ben Kweller was pretty much everywhere on Day One. Loved seeing him check out all the acts and meeting the other musicians. There were many artists at Newport who were there to take in the sights as well as perform. One of my favorite off the stage moments was seeing Kweller enthusiastically approach Tom Morello for a handshake. Definitely one of the more friendly people at the Festival, Ben also offered up one hell of a live performance!

RSL Streaming Photo Album
Ben Kweller at Newport Folk

Avett Brothers

Living Up to High Expectations -Another group that had a lot of fun at Newport were the Avett Brothers. Happy to relay that they do live up to expectations. I saw more of these gifted musicians off stage then I did on, though as they performed a couple of impromptu acoustic bits for us backstage!

RSL Streaming Photo Album
Avett Brothers at Newport Folk

Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman

Easily one of the best live shows from the entire festival came beneath the Harbor Stage on Day One. Tom Morello cuts an stark silhouette as he steps to the stage alone. "Hello, I'm The Nightwatchman," he tells the audience. And what a performance. Bordering on the line of period performer, protest singer and educator - Morello played a highly-entertaining string of songs. My favorite, "Flesh Shapes," involves the challenging of our perceptions. Morello wants us to use our minds and make new connections. A gifted talent who did not disappoint!

RSL Streaming Photo Album
Tom Morello at Newport Folk

The Low Anthem

ONE OF THE BEST - Contenders for Most Friendly Band at Newport, The Low Anthem played an absolutely packed set on the Water Stage on Day One. They just killed it before an appreciative crowd. Highly Recommended!

RSL Streaming Photo Album
The Low Anthem at Newport Folk

I am now a Believer. I was highly skeptical going in that Fleet Foxes were going to be able to live up to their hype. There was a lot of talk in the crowd about the band during their warm-up. This was going to be the first Fleet Foxes show for many thousands of people. And the band lit it up, expanding their sound to meet the crowd and the ships out in the Newport Bay. Pretty positive the band sold some albums this day. Truly inspiring performance.

RSL Streaming Photo Album
Fleet Foxes at Newport Folk

Uniquely Entertaining, Iron & Wine standout out in my Day One memories for the power of the performance and for the width of the smiles (both on and off the stage). The Harbor Stage was completely packed to watch this performance and it was a winner! Watching this performance in this setting was kind of like going back in time - how appropriate for the 50th anniversary show?

RSL Streaming Photo Album
Iron & Wine at Newport Folk

More Photos & Thoughts from Day Two


Stephie said…
Man, I would have absolutely loved to go to this fest. I love Ben Kweller and the Avett Brothers! Unfortunately I'm a 15 year old living in a tiny town in I have no money and no way of getting to RI.

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