: Newport Folk Festival 2022

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Photo of Joni Jam by Gus Philippas, Newport Photo Gallery at Flickr.com

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26.07.22 05:14

The musical summer camp weekend that is the Newport Folk Festival was more varied than ever this year, mixing genres under a blazing sun on the (thankfully) windy peninsula of Fort Adams State Park.

Newport’s history as a folk festival sets the tone of respect for songwriting and artistry, and establishes a vibe of heartfelt kindness that uplifts fans and performers alike. Handwritten signs (thank you, Nan Paraty) gave all of us friendly advice on where to sit and where to dance, which went a long way in getting 10,000 music lovers to flow through the park with relatively few hitches.

The 2022 festival strayed far enough from “folk” in its offerings, but the crowds were just as big for Sylvain Esso, Rootsand Dinosaur Jr. as for the more earthly song styles of Taj Mahal, Joy Oladokun and The Felice brothers.

And while the breakout stories will surely include Madi Diaz, Neal Francis, The Ballroom Thievesand Backseat Loversit was the veterans who made headlines with cross-generational megasets in homage to Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon.

Sunday night’s final started as a set of Brandi Carlile and her friendsfor which Phil and Tim Hanseroth were present as usual, featuring Lucius on vocals for “You and Me on the Rock” and a perfect version of “The joke“, leading to a short pause to reset the scene.

The Joni Jam, which began as a dream in Carlile’s fertile mind, was a recreation of the gatherings of artists that had developed over the past few years at Mitchell: a circle of stars perched on chairs and sofas on the main stage of the Fort. What started as a tribute set changed when Mitchell herself joined, then took over the space for a solo guitar performance (“Like this train“) followed by a series of favorites and standards, “Both sides now“to a deep and beautiful”Summer time.”

Regarding tributes, we achieved an exceptional performance in Celise Henderson (“Help me”), the vocal tracks of Taylor Goldsmith and Marcus Mumfordand the support of friends Allison Russell, Blake Millsand Wynonna Judd.

Saturday night’s “American Tune Revue” was conducted by Nathaniel Rateliff and night sweatswho brought guests for a series of Paul Simon tunes that were already a giant crowd pleaser before Rateliff brought out Simon himself, who thanked the group and burst into “graceland“, “American Tune” (with Rhiannon Giddens), and “The boxer” with Rateliff, Lucas NelsonLucius and his friends, as the sun was setting over the harbour.

As remarkable as those closing sets were, they couldn’t completely eclipse a ferocious Friday night appearance from The National. Their 16-song set came out the door with the live premiere of “Space Invader (threaded gold)” and covered several albums with the help of several singers (Cassandra Jenkins, Anais Mitchell, Hannah Georgasand Adia Victoria). “Terrible Love” has Matt Berninger off stage and into the crowd, dragging an epically long mic cord and a frantic phalanx of photographers. The evening ended with a packed crowd almost a capella version of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” which included sweeping gestures towards the swans swimming in the surrounding waters.

Listening beyond the biggest names, what else were people talking about?

  • Lee Fields proved worth getting there early and throwing your blanket down quickly as the dancing begins immediately.
  • The A’s brought matching outfits and theatrics to their soft-spoken songs.
  • Pakistani poetry Arooj Aftab was delivered with a radical cinematic style.
  • Taj Mahal spoke directly to festival veterans, shouting at the gray-haired people on the ground.
  • goose! Better late than never at the Goose party, they bonded over their double drums, big chiming guitars and pleasant harmony vocals.
  • Courtney BarnettFriday’s set was more dynamic than ever, making this fan wish more people would turn their tongue-in-cheek interior monologues into dryly funny lyrics and punctuate the best lines with perfect, crunchy guitar licks.
  • Rhiannon Giddens of the Silk Road Ensemble sings in Bengali.
  • The Ballroom Thieves absolutely rocked the Saturday morning spot, getting extra credit for their coordinated three-guitar dance moves.
  • Adia Victoria called Southern ghosts, invited her mom to share a microphone, and surfed.
  • Madi Diaz stopped people in their tracks to fill the harbor tent, raised guests Courtney Marie Andrews and Joy Oladokun for a coverage of Patty Griffin“Be Careful” (“All the Girls in the Pale Moonlight…”) and added a new verse for women who are now seeing their rights disappear.
  • Lucy Dacus was loved by literally everyone, with racy guitar work that belied her serene composure and songs that put young people front and center.
  • Francois Francois attracts a crowd that exceeds the limits of the tent despite the sun.
  • Clairo was a master of contrast.
  • A crew of Clusterfolk, replacing Bonny Light Horseman, brought Nathalie Marchand back to us, thank you.
  • The moan of having to choose between bleachers versus. Lucius playing competing sets was a hell of a thing.
  • Black Opry Review brought a slew of songwriters to Newport who will hopefully keep coming back, including the daring Lizzie No, the strong Leon Timbo and the super fun Kentucky Gentlemen.
  • Lizzie No“I play a lot of folk festivals, and normally it’s like, one or two black guys. It might be an accident, but it’s more likely because we’re extremely dangerous when we’re all together.”
  • For the Sunday Gospel morning, Lena Mae Perry to everybody I prayed and showed us what a spirit can inspire.
  • Who brought Ukrainian flags to Dakha Brakha? Great.
  • The Lindas Lindas totally kill their summer vacation.
  • Taylor Goldsmith asked the public to accompany him on stage (!).
  • Roots turned a bunch of sweaty people into really, really sweaty people.
  • Japanese breakfast I juggled the schedule and landed opposite the Brandi-Joni megashow, so pay close attention to her the next time you get a chance to catch up!

See you next year, Newport family.

Many thanks to Gus Philippas for the fabulous photos (see below and on Flickr) and to Kelly MacHold and Emma Philippas for helping cover all the bases.

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