If you can sell all your tickets before you've even announced your line-up, you're the king...the best festival in all the land. Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza? Nope, none of the mega-festivals have ever pulled this one off. But The Newport Folk Festival
has. Believe it. Now in its 54th year, the fest is obviously as popular as its ever been. This year, the fest's incredible sales feat afforded its organizers the ability to have a little fun with their ticket holders, teasing their line-up one artist announcement at a time, like some great musical advent calendar. Except twelve pairs of tube socks aren't what's waiting at the end of the countdown. Artists like Andrew Bird, The Avett Brothers, Beck, Father John Misty (in a big red bow perhaps? I'd love to see that) and Jim James are. Talk about Christmas in July.
Though you might be tempted to sleep in, grab some magnificent brunch somewhere, tour a mansion or two or attempt to kill yourself scoot-couping around Ocean Drive, we're proposing a bunch of reasons to skip the sightseeing this weekend. You are a folk fan after all, aren't you? You best be getting your rear in gear early so you're one of the first through Fort Adams' pearly gates. There is a lot to see by 3PM and you owe it to yourself to get the most for your folk bucks (©Father John Misty
). You, after all, are one of the lucky ones, rewarded for your leap of faith with one of the best lineups the summer festival season has to offer.
First things first. In addition to our early picks, there will obviously be tons of great music to dig into this weekend at Fort Adams. Get started with this extended mix of tunes from some of the festival's very best.
The Low Anthem's Newport Homegrown - Friday - 3PM - Museum Stage
Kicking things off vintage gear loving, folk rock trio The Low Anthem want to show you around, musically speaking. The Providence, RI outfit know a thing or two about the Rhode Island area's best kept secrets, so they'll be hosting a revue of sorts, performing and standing in with the likes of Roz Raskin and the Rice Cakes, Last Good Tooth, Death Vessel, and Vudu Sister. It's the perfect chance to hear some of the music that's budding right in Newport's backyard.
Langhorne Slim - Saturday - 12:35 - Fort Stage
Langhorne's a Pennsylvania man, booked criminally early as far as we're concerned, but that's OK. Call it the perfect opportunity to see one of the festival's best performers up close and personal. Back when Baeble once boasted its own Guest Apartment, Langhorne and his merry band of music makers were all but climbing the walls for our cameras
. Can't imagine what he'll do with a whole stage to himself.
The Lone Bellow - Saturday - 1:10 - Harbor Tent
The Lone Bellow are a big one to watch, seemingly primed and ready for the same kind of national spotlight The Lumineers (also playing on Sunday) are currently enjoying. The band's self-titled debut is a blast of city-dwelling folk rock delivered in rousing three part harmonies. As much of a rush as it is, the band can also strip it down completely with some serious goose bump material.
Shovels and Rope - Saturday - 2:30 - Quad Stage
The first time I heard Shovels and Rope and their barn blasting single "Birmingham", I thought I had stumbled across some long lost Bob Dylan/Emmylou Harris duet. The track is very much a modern concoction, however; an addictive, haphazard slice of junkyard folk penned by South Carolinian couple Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. See what else they have under their belts when the band takes the Quad Stage on Saturday.
Tift Merritt - Sunday - 12:30 - Fort Stage
Early Sunday afternoon Newport welcomes another Southern musician in Tift Merritt. The Tarheel singer's voice is likely one of the finest you'll encounter all weekend. Plus, her current tour mate Andrew Bird also has a date with the festival. Perhaps he'll swoop in on her set for one of Newport's one of a kind collaborations? We'll put the odds at 50/50.
Spirit Family Reunion - Sunday - 1:10 - Quad Stage
Brooklyn's Spirit Family Reunion were a special find at last year's festival. This year, Newport welcomes the Brooklyn band back with a little more air under their wings. Theirs is music born from busking...potent and portable, the kind of banjo pickin', wash tub thumping, big bad stand-up bass pounding tunes that find you on street corners and subway platforms. Having done this before, they'll feel right at home on the Quad Stage.
Lord Huron - Sunday - 2:35 - Quad Stage
One of Newport's most exotic offerings, Lord Huron will bring their sun glistening, indie exotica inside the walls of Fort Adams when they take the Quad Stage on Sunday. The band's latest album Lonesome Dreams
was one of the finest records released last year. Expect a rich, full bodied brew of echoing twang, globe tripping percussion and plenty of musical range.