Entries in Newport Folk Festival (32)


Newport Folk Preview: Middle Brother Live

Newport Folk Festival's recent renaissance has come about, in large part, due to a willingness to embrace an exciting new generation of artists while still paying homage to the legends.  Case in point, this year's lineup features Mountain Man, Freelance Whales and Typhoon alongside Emmylou Harris, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and festival co-founder Pete Seeger.  There is no band that better represents the coalescence of likeminded contemporary folk-influenced artists than Middle Brother.  The band features the three primary songwriters from Delta Spirit (also playing this year), 2009 alums Deer Tick and one of 2010's festival standouts Dawes.  Drawing on classic rock, folk and country traditions the band found loose, collaborative sound that highlights each songwriter's strengths.  Delta Spirit's Matt Vasquez mixes gritty southern soul with classic rock, Dawes' Taylor Goldsmith brings breezy SoCal folk and Deer Tick's John McCauley pairs poignant lyrics with his casual, off-the-cuff delivery. It's one of the rare "supergroup" albums that actually delivers - it's a must listen for fans of any of the bands.

Don't miss the band's Sunday set at Newport - with no other tour dates planned, it could be your last chance.  Until then, check out our excellent live recording of the band's March 3 show at the Paradise in Boston. 

Middle Brother
Paradise Rock Club - Boston MA
March 3, 2011

Blue Eyes
Mom and Dad
Thanks For Nothing
Blood and Guts
Me Me Me
Million Dollar Bill
Middle Brother
Twist and Shout

Full set download:  mp3 zip

Kitchen Sessions video of Dawes, featuring Matt Vasquez, John McCauley and Jonny Corndawg:


Get to know Swear and Shake

When I made the trip down to Connecticut for the B.O.M.B. Festival a few weeks ago, there were plenty of bands on my list to check out.  David Wax Museum, The Felice Brothers, Real Estate, Woods, Titus Andronicus...the list goes on.  One band that wasn't on my radar was NYC's Swear and Shake.  However, as I found myself traversing the corporate confines of the Comcast Center on my way to see Wavves on the main stage, my ears redirected me to a side stage where Swear and Shake were playing a set of gorgeous indie folk.  Lush vocals from Kari Spieler and Adam McHeffey, great songs and a sound that ranges from bouncy indie-pop to smokey soul-tinged folk.  There was a lot to like and I was hooked instantly.  As soon as I got home I grabbed their free EP and that's when I knew they were for real - highly recommend checking it out.  There's a reason this band is playing festivals all over New England, get on the bandwagon now.

We're ecstatic to announce that Swear and Shake will be playing Newport Nightcap, the (unofficial) Newport Folk afterparty we're throwing with Kitchen Sessions on July 30th in Newport RI.  Don't miss the chance to see these guys live, along with Kingsley Flood and more bands TBA.  If you're going to Newport Folk, reserve a guest list spot for just $10.

Swear and Shake - Bones


Newport Nightcap - Unofficial Newport Folk Afterparty

Visible Voice and Kitchen Sessions are excited to announce Newport Nightcap - July 30th in downtown Newport RI!

As the final notes of the Newport Folk Festival are reverberating across Newport Harbor, move the party to downtown Newport.  Relax in the upstairs lounge with food, cold drinks and intimate acoustic sets by local/national acts (artists TBA).  Then, move downstairs where Kingsley Flood (Boston) and Swear and Shake (NYC) will keep party going late into the night.  

VIP (guaranteed spot + more): $10 buy here **limited**
General Admission: $5 at the door (if available)

Saturday July 30, 7pm-1am
Gas Lamp Grille, 206 Thames St, Downtown Newport
Sponsored by Narragansett Beer


Kingsley Flood - I Don't Wanna Go Home
Swear and Shake - The Promise



Newport Folk Festival 2011 Lineup

Hot off the presses...here is your Newport Folk Festival 2011 lineup!  As we've come to expect from Newport Folk, the lineup features a healthy mix of new faces, legends and a few interesting surprises (Gogol Bordello acoustic!).  In recent years the festival has focused on putting up-and-coming indie artists alongside folk legends, fostering a collaborative spirit and it looks like this year will follow that trend.  Veterans like The Decemberists, M. Ward and Gillian Welch (collaboration, perhaps?) join fresh faces like The Head And The Heart, Middle Brother and Mountain Man alongside legends such as Emmylou Harris, Ramblin Jack Elliot and Mavis Staples.  July can't come fast enough.

The Decemberists
Emmylou Harris
Elvis Costello (acoustic)
Gillian Welch
Gogol Bordello (acoustic)
Earl Scruggs
Amos Lee
Ramblin Jack Elliot
M. Ward
Wanda Jackson
Tegan and Sara
The Felice Brothers
Carolina Chocolate Drops
The Civil Wars
Freelance Whales
The Cave Singers
Devil makes Three
Pokey Lafarge & The South City Three
The Secret Sisters
Trampled By Turtles
Song Circle W/ John Gorka, Ellis Paul, Dar Williams & Liz Queler
Mountain Man
What Cheer? Brigade
The Seeger
Clogging All Stars
The Wailin' Jenny's
River City Extension
The Ebony Hillbillies
Brown Bird
PS22 Chorus

Last night's Newport Folk Festival lineup announcement party was a blast!  The full lineup was revealed on cue cards in an homage to Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video.  Steve at Kitchen Sessions filmed the event and (on a tight deadline) edited together the following Newport Folk Festival Lineup Announcement video - check it out...



Newport Folk Festival 2010 Highlights

The Newport Folk Festival always fosters a sense of community -- both among the fans that relax on abutting blankets at the Fort Stage, as well as among the bands that are welcomed, if not encouraged, to mingle backstage and collaborate onstage.  This year's festival took that sense of community and collaboration to a new level with numerous artists, including Andrew Bird, Jim James, The Swell Season and headliners John Prine and Levon Helm, inviting others to share their stage.

Another high-water mark for Newport this year was the eclecticism of the lineup, a trademark of the festival in the Jay Sweet-era.  Sure, there were folk traditionalists like Ritchie Havens, Tim O'Brien and, of course, John Prine.  However, the lineup was rounded out by established songsmiths Jim James and Andrew Bird; up-and-coming artists like A.A. Bondy, Dawes, Daniel Martin Moore and Ben Sollee, The Felice Brothers, O'Death and The Low Anthem.  Nneka brought a refreshingly unique sound to the festival with her blend of Afro-hip-hop rhythms and a social/political message.  Calexico and The David Wax Museum took slightly different takes on Mexican/Southwest-inspired Americana, while Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Levon Helm and Elvis Perkins in Dearland brought varying degrees of New Orleans jazz to the festival.  It was an eclectic and successful mix, proving that the term "folk music" is a broad umbrella.

Here's my attempt at narrowing down a weekend of great memories to a handful of highlights:

Dawes:  I've been a fan of Dawes since I saw them open for Delta Spirit at the Middle East a couple years ago, and while their record North Hills is fantastic, it's still the live show that reminds me how fantastic this band is.  Their headlining set at Great Scott earlier this year was a revelation - the energy was off the charts from the start.  Dawes' set at Newport got off to a slower start - that isn't to say the performance wasn't great, but it took longer to win over a crowd that was undoubtedly less familiar with the music.  However, by the end of the show they had the entire crowd on their feet, singing along as Taylor Goldsmith stood at center stage, arm around his father as they both sang "I've got a feeling it's gonna be alright".  An amazing performance to close out the Quad stage on Saturday.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band:
  I ducked out a few minutes early from The Avett Brothers because I know that Preservation Hall Jazz Band was a must-see, but to be honest, I didn't exactly know what to expect.  When I arrived at the Harbour Stage I found Jim James on stage, crooning along with a group of New Orleans jazz legends that looked like kids on Christmas morning.  The smiles from all parties were infectious, but the music moreso - Blue Yodel No. 9 with Jim James was downright nasty (in the best way possible).  Before the set was done Andrew Bird, Ben Sollee and Tao Rodriguez Seeger had also joined the band and the crowd was on its feet, dancing and singing along.  I was grinning from ear to ear - my favorite performance of the weekend.


The Avett Brothers:
  I've only seen the Avett Brothers a handful of times, but I left each of those shows thinking that they were, hands down, the best band on the planet.  Last year the Avett Brothers came to Newport on the cusp of releasing their major label debut I And Love And You.  Their set was great, but not the catharsis that a normal Avetts show is - maybe it was the timeslot, or the fact that most of the crowd wasn't familiar with the new songs - or maybe it was just me.  But this year was completely different.  The Avetts put on an absolutely frenetic show, and the crowd at the normally laid-back Fort Stage was as active as I saw all weekend.  They mixed trademark ballads and banjo-punk stomps and kept the crowd on their feet.  They reminded me what a great band they are.  


The David Wax Museum:
  I feel like I'm overdoing it a bit on the David Wax Museum love lately, but I can't help it - they're just too good.  To recap, the band entered a contest run by Magic Hat to win a slot at Newport.  From over 150 entries, they were selected as one of three finalists.  They won with over 3,000 votes - a testament to the number of fans they've collected through rigorous touring.  Obviously a big opportunity for the band to reach a larger audience, but it's what they did with that opportunity that made them one of the highlights of the festival for me - they absolutely played their hearts out.  Playing a mix of Mexican-influenced songs with eclectic instrumentation - accordion, jarana and donkey jawbone are featured prominently - they slowly won over the large crowd at the Quad Stage.  The clear turning point was when, halfway through the show, the band left the stage, trading the comfort of amplification for the intimacy of playing acoustically amongst the crowd.  The gospel-influenced "Let Me Rest" from 2009's Carpenter Bird showcased the band's harmonies, but it was "Unfruitful", an accordion and fiddle-led stomper from the band's upcoming album, that really brought the house down.  As the band climbed back on stage to finish their set the roar from the crowd was deafening - the had come to Newport as underdogs and conquered.




2010 Newport Folk Preview - Part 7: Levon Helm

The day has arrived - the 2010 Newport Folk Festival starts tomorrow and runs through the weekend.  It's not too late - you can still get tickets.  If you can't make it to the festival this year, watch visible voice for complete post-festival coverage!

For the past week I've been highlighting some of my favorite artists that are playing Newport this year.  And, fittingly, I will wrap things up with the man that will close out the festival on Sunday evening - Levon Helm.  My first Newport Folk Festival was 2004, when Levon Helm was on the bill along with Garth Hudson and the Dixie Hummingbirds.  However, I didn't hear until I arrived at the festival that Levon had to pull out for health reasons - needelss to say I was bummed.  I am beyond excited to finally get a chance to see one of my idols - so much so that I can't really put it into words.  I'll just let this video do the talking:

My next goal is to finally motivate myself and come up with the cash to make it out for one of the Midnight Rambles in Woodstock NY.  That might have to happen soon.


2010 Newport Folk Preview - Part 6: John Prine

The 51st Newport Folk Festival is just a couple days away!  If you don't have tickets to the festival yet I highly encourage buying them now - I've been numerous times and it's always a blast.  Watch visible voice for complete post-festival coverage!

John Prine is one of the great American songwriters.  His songs take powerful lyrics full of sharp wit and social/political commentary and marry them to hummable country/folk tunes.  Admittedly, I'm more familiar with his self-titled debut from 1971 than anything else - but I have no doubt that seeing the legend perform Sam Stone, Illegal Smile, Spanish Pipedream, Paradise and others as the sun sets over Naragansett Bay will be one of the highlights of the festival.  Below are a couple videos of Prine at Bonnaroo earlier this summer.



2010 Newport Folk Preview - Part 5: Cory Chisel

Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons first hit my radar a few months ago when I saw that they were opening for Dawes at Great Scott.  I liked what I heard so I bought the album, Death Won't Send A Letter.  What really blew me away though was the live show - Cory Chisel has a commanding presence, tall and slender, he looks the part of a frontman.  And he leads the band with a confident swagger and a nicotine-weathered voice.  A young troubador that finds the geographic and sonic middle-ground between Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.

Below are two tracks from Chisel's wonderful set in support of Dawes back in February.


Born Again (Live at Great Scott 2.20.10)
In The Deep End (Live at Great Scott 2.20.10)


2010 Newport Folk Preview - Part 4: The Low Anthem

As the story goes, two years ago The Low Anthem volunteered at the Newport Folk Festival, collecting recyclable bottles and handing out copies of their record to anyone that would take one.  They returned triumphantly last year as performers, playing to an overflowing crowd at the Water Stage.  This year they return as local heroes to play the main stage.  While their ascent in the last 2 years has been remarkable, The Low Anthem remain incredibly humble and grounded - just a group of talented musicians who travel from town to town to play their songs for those who will listen. 

Theirs is one of my most anticipated sets of the weekend.  2008's Oh My God, Charlie Darwin and 2007's What The Crow Brings are both incredible albums, nearly note-perfect.  However, I'm most excited to to hear the evolution of the new songs that will comprise their upcoming record.  Ghost Woman Blues, Take Out Your Ashes, Dreams Can't Chase You Down and the handful of other songs I've heard so far are devestatingly honest and heartbreaking songs that show amazing growth in Ben Knox Miller's songwriting.  Below is a full recording of The Low Anthem's recent show in Portland Maine - including some fantastic covers, including The Band's Evangeline with members of Brown Bird.  Highly recommended.

The Low Anthem
SPACE Gallery - Portland ME
April 23, 2010

To The Ghosts Who Write History Books
Ticket Taker
Sally, Where'd You Get Your Liquor From
Charlie Darwin
Ghost Woman Blues
Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around
This God Damn House
Home I'll Never Be
Cigarettes, Whiskey & Wild, Wild Women
Cage The Songbird
Take Out Your Ashes
Dreams Can't Chase You Down
Ain't No More Cane
The Horizon Is A Beltway
Maybe So

Full set download