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A Jones Family Singers “Love Train” Circle forms in the crowd.

Having attended the Newport Folk Festival since 2013, I appreciate how it continues to improve upon itself as well as manage to sell out each year. And it should, given the absolutely perfect, resort-like setting on historic Fort Adams State Park, and ability to bring in quality artists, provide educational workshops, as well as satisfy any food and beverage craving.

Newport Folk Scene

Even though you can find parking near or on festival grounds or take a shuttle bus, I always choose to take the Harbor Shuttle from Newport across the bay to get to the festival. During this 10-minute ride, I allow myself to dream about what it would be like to live in Newport year-round, with all the trappings of a yacht and waterfront property. This year, I learned from our shuttle captain that U2’s The Edge keeps his yacht “Rockit” docked in the bay.

Rockit, The Edge's Yacht in Newport

The final day of Newport Folk Festival began with a revival. As if the first, two days of surprises and historical memories wasn’t enough, the 56th festival’s closing day brought tears to my eyes with the music of The Jones Family Singers. Happy tears. Joyous tears. Tears that come when you see the human spirit in the form of song and it shines brighter than the sun over Narraganset Bay.

The Jones Family Singers

Jon Batiste & Stay Human

I remember walking towards the Fort Stage hearing a flood of piano keys, thundering elegantly over the crowd. Everyone was quiet—transfixed by the man on stage, Jon Batiste.

 

Berklee Gospel & Roots Choir

Soul aerobics, anyone? My Sunday morning never felt so fresh than when I heard the voices of the Berklee choir. The crowd took direction well when asked to join in celebratory movement. Berklee Gospel & Roots Choir

Music Maker Relief Foundation

Are you familiar with the mission of the Music Maker Relief Foundation? This Hillborough, NC nonprofit supports the musical traditions of the South by supporting aging artists and musicians. The organization’s founder, Tim Duffy, spoke about his journey in founding the nonprofit. He was joined by a few of the artists who are now touring the country performing, as they told us about their experiences and also performed on the Museum Stage.

Music Maker Relief Foundation

Shakey Graves

Everyone should develop a healthy crush on an artist or band at various points throughout life. In 2013, I fell for Father John Misty and Spirit Family Reunion. In 2014, it was Lucius and Valerie June. And now, this year, Shakey Graves ripped my folkin’ heart out within minutes of his soundcheck. I can’t wait to see him again at this year’s Philadelphia Folk Festival.

Blake Mills

It’s always a special moment when a musician starts playing and my ears have to adjust to a sound that is unique, with a distinctive style and vocal tone. I experienced this while lying on a hill, near the Harbor Stage, listening to Blake Mills.

Blake Mills

Christopher Paul Stelling

A good sign of folkery going down is when you approach a stage and see a bunch of different artists on stage together. So, when I saw the faces of Joe Fletcher, Dan Blakeslee, Stephen Weinheimer, and many others on stage with Christopher Paul “C.P.” Stelling, I knew I had happened upon something special.

Christopher Paul Stelling and Friends

Rodrigo Amarante

I found another excuse to explore more Latin-influenced music. Aside from Seu Jorge, Rodrigo Amarante is the only other artist I’ve experienced singing in Portuguese.

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The Ballroom Thieves

I saw this Massachusetts-based band last September at the inaugural Campfire Music Festival. It was obvious that the entire Quad Stage crowd wanted more and more from this trio.

Ballroom Thieves

Lord Huron

Flanked by mics on right and left, Lord Huron gave us a taste of folk rock with the help of a nifty amplifier.

 

First Aid Kit

The Swedish, sister duo gave a solid performance, despite Johanna Söderberg having lost her voice, leaving sister Klara to carry the show. I missed the hair flipping but otherwise, I’m intrigued and hope to catch them again in full force.

Hozier

Well, of course he took us to church.

Field Report

Field Report

Brian Fallon

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’65 Revisited

In closing, we were treated to a Bob Dylan 1965 tribute set to commemorate the year he went electric, which started off with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, who were then joined by Willy Watson. Later, artists such as Joe Fletcher, Spirit Family Reunion, Dawes, Deer Tick, and many more joined the fun. I’m always sad when Newport Folk Fest is over, as I look forward to making the trip each year and when it comes it goes so fast. But I’m glad to have enjoyed the privilege of attending this event. You can Save the Date for next year, July 22-24, 2016! Get more photos and media on the NFF tumblr and instagram.

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