Fantastic Folk

This past Saturday I was lucky enough to attend the Newport Folk Festival– this year titled “Folk Festival 50” commemorating the terrifically long run festival has been lucky enough to have so far. The line up looked awesome, three weeks ago, when I bought my ticket. My main draws were Ben Kweller (who I’d already seen, this past October break), Fleet Foxes (an especially Bates band for me), and of course, the Decemberists (who I had also already seen, but almost five years ago). Those weeks went past in a flash and all of the sudden it was August, and I was waking up at 7h30 on a Saturday to drive to Rhode Island!

It was an utterly wonderful day. We got into the actual festival grounds at around 11, after driving and traffic and parking and walking etc etc. There were tents set up, selling jewelry and clothes and bags and henna tattoos, all sorts of fun stuff. The festival itself was at Fort Adams National Park, and there were three stages set up. We settled down in a spot for the main stage just in time for Billy Bragg, not someone I’d really known about, but definitely someone who put on a great show. Unfortunately, we had to dash to another stage before he ended his set, in order to see BEN KWELLER. He played a lot of his newer stuff, and did the entire set without a piano, which was an interesting spin on what I’d seen before. It was around here that I ran into my first Batesie of the day, one of three friends I saw during the concerts.

The hot, hot sun was shining hard all day long, and the early afternoon was full of performers that neither my friend or I had heard of really, but we decided to listen anyways. The Avett brothers were fantastic, and I wish we had caught more of their set. They were followed by Gillian Welch, who, by some miracle, had run into traveling troubles and required a police escort from the Newport Police all the way from Logan Airport in Boston! She was awesome, however, this was the hour when I was in a sun-coma, lying down and constantly reapplying sunblock, drifting in and out of consciousness. Next, though, we were reinvigorated by Del’s frozen lemonade (a RI specialty that I hadn’t had since the summer I spent in Providence) and FLEET FOXES! They will always be a very Bates band for me because one Saturday in March, some friends had gone out to Portland, and I just remember how totally wonderful it was to get off campus that day. On our drive back, it was just dusk, and the cold was creeping in, and as the packed car drove up 95 back to school, we listened to the Fleet Foxes CD. I just remember that day with the context of the song “white winter hymnal” because we all sang it like a sing along until the sun went totally down.

Last but definitely not least, we saw the Decemberists. They were so great I can’t even really describe. They played old stuff, new stuff, were funny, performed a skit about when Dylan went electric (a scandalizing and famous Newport folk festival moment of the past), and wore flannel. All these things are very good.

By the end of the day, I had a killer sunburn, had spent ten hours on a blanket in the sun, listened to amazing live music, ran into at least 10 people I knew, and checked off a box for my first folk festival on my list of things to do in life. All in all, great day!


About nbrouder
I'm a senior at Bates College getting ready for thesis and the real world!

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