The Newport Folk Festival: Day 2, "A Folkin' Southern Invasion"

Arriving at the waterfront on Saturday, I felt like I was at an entirely different festival than the day before. The sun came out for the Newport Folk Festival and somehow everyone got better looking than their rain-drenched alter egos of yesterday. Floral headdresses were on display, all the hippie grandmas-&-pas donned pig tails and tie-dye, and magic was in the air.

After feeling like Friday was all about broken cameras and getting lost in the fort, we were looking forward to seeing what the people’s music had to offer to us today. In hopes of catching as many acts as possible, we started our whirl wind tour.
The high-energy performance of Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls kicked-off our day. Ex-punk rocker Turner has taken the feeling and sound of his previous musical career and swapped out the electric for the acoustic to create his fiery sound.

Shovels and Rope, the South Carolina husband and wife due of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst looked as sweet as can be. She wore a blue gingham dress, inspiring homage to Dorothy from the wizard of OZ or Mary Anne from Gilligan’s Island.

Their sweetness was eclipsed only by their sheer musical fervor. Hearst banged it out on the drums like a serious lady, while Trent held his own rocking out on guitar.

Over on the main stage, Jim James, front man of American rock band, My Morning Jacket, preformed his solo act with quirky swagger. Sequentially playing through his entire album Regions of Light and Sound of God, he slid around the stage, tickling his fans in a playful performance. There was plenty of rocking out and on the track “Know Till Now” he even takes up the saxophone and gets soulful. While folk sax doesn’t sound typical, it seems to make perfect sense considering the amalgamation of music that’s going down today.

One of most entertaining acts of the festival so far has to be the freak folk funk master Father John Misty. Misty has swarthy rock star moves like a pumped-up Jim Morrison, and he splits his time on stage between playing music and entertaining the crowd with hilarious diatribes on random shit.

Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, Justin Townes Earl leans towards the southern-country-rock end of the folk spectrum. His dapper nerdy-chic attire and attitude are what I imagine to be quintessential qualities in all southern men.

Throughout the day I felt like Newport had been relocated below the Mason Dixon line and the closing act, The Avett Brothers, also from South Carolina, continued the southern trend. There is a gentleness, an earnestness and pleasantry to these southern people that lends itself to Folk music or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, when people hear a banjo they seem to feel at ease. The Avett brothers are for sure a crowd pleaser. My personal favorite part of their performance was their super happy Cellist Joe Kwon, who has the biggest smile I have ever seen someone maintain through an entire concert.

And so another day came to an end at the NFF…the town fair closed down and cleaned up for the next day in action.

Photos By: Nicole Maddox & Michael Greco

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