Newport Folk Festival 2014: Day Three

We didn’t wind up attending all of day three because the forecasters were calling for severe storms between 11 and 3. Anyone who knows Fort Adams knows that there is absolutely no place to shelter there. Given that we take the ferry over and had no easy way to leave or a car to take shelter in we really didn’t want to be outside with a bunch of thunder and lightning. It turns out that the storms that passed through in the morning at least in Newport were rain events only, though definitely areas west, north and south got hit pretty hard including tornadoes. We kept an eye on the radar and decided though we probably would get wet it seemed like the bulk of the severe rain was gone, and decided to head over. There was only really one act I was disappointed at not seeing because of our delayed arrival, but having spent all of Friday at last year’s festival soaking wet from the rain I was happy with our decision to sit out the worst of the rain this year.

Dawes

We got to the festival in the middle of Dawes’ set. I have seen them live numerous times before, so I had already planned on leaving them early to see Hozier. Thus it wasn’t a big deal to me to miss them for the most part. Luckily they played two of the songs I would have most wanted to hear, “From a Window Seat” and “When My Time Comes” right in a row, and those were the two songs I got to here. They were just as wonderful as always. When I get a chance I’m definitely going to listen to their full set.

NPR Music has an archive of their set. Take a listen.

Hozier

I saw Hozier earlier this summer at the Sweetlife Festival. At the time I said I was looking forward to seeing him play at a smaller venue because I didn’t really feel like he had great command of the stage. He did perform on a much smaller stage at Newport, but I left with the same feeling. Maybe he would work out better in a small seated venue or say my living room? I still love his music, and it does sound great but both times I’ve seen him now I have not been able to hear at least 50% of what he’s saying when he talks to the audience. I don’t know why because he has a very commanding voice when he’s singing, but when he speaks I can’t for the life of me hear him. Maybe he’ll get better. Now I kind of wish I had seen him play the Museum stage, which he did several times over the course of the weekend. It would definitely be a tiny place to see him play. I’m betting that was probably awesome.

The Newport Folk Festival is always kicked off on Sunday mornings with a performance by the Berklee Gospel and Roots Choir. We obviously missed them this year due to our late arrival, but they stopped in and backed Hozier on a song, which was pretty cool.

Conor Oberst

I only saw the first part of Conor Oberst’s set. He was being backed by Dawes. I have been intrigued by this ever since they announced the album. They fit together, but it still seems weird that a band that has a career in their own rights is backing someone else. Obviously they have their reasons to collaborate, so good for them I guess. If I had a choice though I would have preferred to see more of Dawes doing their thing as opposed to listening to Conor Oberst whose music I can’t quite get into the way that I think I should given how well it fits with much of the other music I listen to.

NPR Music recorded his set, so you too can hear it.

Trampled by Turtles

Trampled by Turtles is a Newport staple. I love seeing them there, and I will go see them play every year that they show up. I am obviously not the only one as they did not play on the main stage this year and the stage they did play on was more crowded than I had seen it all weekend. My husband actually left his perch at the main stage and wandered over and when he did he commented that based on the crowd it seemed like they should have been on the main stage instead. Scheduling of course is an art form, so sometimes you have to make do. At any rate they were great fun as always and had the crowd singing and dancing the whole time.

As a fun aside, they came out to perform with Mavis Staples during her set and she referred to them as Smashing Turtles, which makes me smile every time I think about it.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela

Rodrigo Y Gabriela were one of the bands I was most excited to see at this year’s Newport. Sadly their set overlapped with Mavis Staples, so I had to leave early but wow are they amazing. You would not that think that two people on a stage playing completely instrumental guitar music could create the fire that they did from that stage, but they did. The audience was crazy into it clapping along. Gabriela is insane basically throwing herself around the stage as she plays. I really hope I get the chance to see them again soon. At least they opened their set with the one song I really wanted to hear, so I didn’t miss out on that.

Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples was the grand dame of this year’s festival. The entire festival was dedicated as a celebration of her 75th birthday. As I mentioned in my previous two posts she popped up throughout the weekend singing with other artists, and she brought out a ton of people on stage to sing with her throughout her set. It was a truly amazing and unparalleled musical experience.

She sang “The Weight” with Norah Jones and Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes, which was awesome.

She sang “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” with a bunch of people.

Some of the other artists that joined her on stage and I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot were Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig from Lucius, Spooner Oldham,  Trampled by Turtles, and Jeff Tweedy.

She ended out the set singing “We Shall Overcome” which Pete Seeger, who sadly passed away this year, closed out the festival with every year he was there. Everyone joined her on stage to sing it, and of course coming from her who actually sang it as part of the Staples Sisters during the Civil Rights movement and with Dr. King it was doubly special. It was a fantastic way to close out the festival and it will be difficult for anything else to beat how momentously special that set was.

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