2012’s Newport Folk Festival is now a thing of the past, and as expected the weekend ended up being yet another glorious celebration of music - albeit a slightly soggy one.
For fifty three years now, the Newport Folk Festival has been, and continues to be, the greatest American music festival in existence. Sure, it has evolved, and continues to evolve, beyond its “strictly folk” beginnings – that ship sailed in 1965 the moment Dylan plugged in – but it is that spirit of exploration, that willingness to take risks, that makes this annual weekend by the bay what it is.
While other festivals try to include practically every band in existence, the organizers of the Newport Folk Festival picks acts that embody the spirit of the fest. Each artist is complementary in some way to the others, which is a good thing because you’re lucky if you can make it through even one set with out a sit-in, or multiple sit-ins, by artists at the fest that weekend.
While other festivals seek to grow into the biggest MEGA FESTIVAL that they possibly can (looking at you Coachella /ACL), Newport welcomes a measly ten thousand people through its gates. Could they fit more? Sure. But by keeping attendance relatively low, it creates a familial vibe that permeates the festival grounds at Fort Adams. You’re just as likely to run into an old friend walking around as you are Jackson Browne eating some clams from a local vendor.
The Newport Folk Festival is the place where music consistently comes alive in a way that is utterly unique, and this year was no exception. Yes, the rain came – at times in buckets - shortening sets and boosting poncho sales through the roof. But nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the artists or fans in attendance.
We’ll be talking about the fest in greater detail on a special edition of our podcast out later this week, but here are some of the highlights of the fest as we saw it.
FRIDAY – ONE BIG HIGHLIGHT
(See all of our shots from Friday right HERE)
We’ve managed to miss this crew from North Carolina each and every time they have come through DC. NEVER AGAIN. Delivering a set that was a gripping blend of psychedlia, folk and foot stomping rock, it is absolutely inconceivable that a stage smaller than the one at the Fort could ever contain them. Biggest surprise of the weekend, and it was the first one out of the gate taboot!