An Epic, Soaring Sunday at Newport Folk!

Newport Folk 2011
Photos by 5342 Studios

The Year of the Middle Brother at Newport
Matt Vasquez & Taylor Goldsmith rage on the Quad!

Middle Brother - Me Me Me

DATELINE: NEWPORT, RI - There's always great music on the menu when you arrive at Newport Folk. The producers of the festival always have good things in store - but the execution component of the day belongs to the artists. Newport Folk 52's Sunday was the single best day of shows I have ever seen at Newport.

Some of these feelings and much of that praise, I am sure, must spring out of what could only be calling a "completely satisfying" and an epic set by Middle Brother - possibly their last show for some time (and perhaps ever) and it unfolded, here, inside the walls of Fort Adams in Newport, RI. The Super Group formed from members of Delta Spirit, Dawes and Deer Tick put on the Festival's biggest jam on Sunday - and believe me when I tell you it was the single best set of live music I have witnessed this year. The tipping point, I suppose for my sanity was the comebacker.... Dawes' "When My Time Comes" was covered by Middle Brother and 3,500 people on the lawn altogether. Chills... Those memories will keep forever!

I was rocked, along with thousands, on Sunday morning to the sound of New England's own David Wax Museum - very good friends and accomplished musicians, who opened the Fort Stage on a glistening Sunday morning.

After I got over how amazing they sounded (it took some time) emotions crept in. Opening and Closing slots on the Fort Stage (the only stage that hasn't moved since the Festival kicked off more than a half-century ago) is an honored slot. And they were looking out at a sea of people believing in them - much like the musicians had before them. It's hard for a music lover and a proud friend to not get a little choked up. This is the best I had ever heard them sound.


Standouts from this Photo Album (More albums, more artist profile coming!) The Carolina Chocolate Drops - finally got to see and hear these guys for the first time and they were pretty damn unbelievable! I love their fusion style, blending together elements of southern music, and even yodeling to a mix of modern narrative and their own brand of Americana - a very well received set by audiences and with good reason. Wanda Jackson - More than redeeming herself for a somewhat disappointing set last time around in Boston (late start, illness - all the enemies of life on the road), Jackson - who has recorded with Jack White - really helped set the day on fire for so many here at Newport. Wanda - you rule! EmmyLou Harris - What a comeback! And by that I mean Harris' new material. Long since celebrated for her takes on traditional songs (several of which she performed) Harris has new original material worthy of her voice! Bravo. Elvis Costello - Wow. Long live the real king. This was my second time seeing EC perform acoustically. He really brings it - not even slowing down. Let's take a second to think about just how long this guy has been performing these ironic songs about culture, heartache and internal debate! You Sir, will always be one of my very favorite performers. Costello was one of the few musicians at Folk I really wanted to shake hands with - if only for a moment, but it didn't happen. (I did hang out with the guys from Middle Brother and said good morning to Pete Seeger & Producer George Wein.) Perhaps another time, Elvis?

Elvis Costello

Not in this set (they're all coming, folks, we got everybody) and amongst reasons why this day - Sunday 7/31/11 - was so damn special and possibly the best single day of music in Modern Newport Folk history: Brown Bird, Mountain Man, Trampled by Turtles, Justin Townes Earle, Justin Townes Earle, The Head & the Heart, The Civil Wars and M. Ward.

much much more to come
Newport Folk Festival


I've been listening to a bunch of the sets that NPR made available for download - fantastic day for sure. I'm agreeing with you on Middle Brother. This set is everything rock n roll is supposed to be. Energetic, musical, sloppy, inspired, communal - I could go on. Personally I enjoyed "Thanks For Nothing" and "Middle Brother" but "Blood and Guts"? Holy shit - that's it right there.

We've had Brown Bird and The David Wax Museum play house concerts here in the last few months and I was full of distant pride hearing their sets and reception.

All in all - best festival of the year - I can't imagine a better mix.

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