Last year at Newport I was essentially brought to tears during Spirit Family Reunion’s set (Ok, I was literally brought to tears). To see the crowd's reaction to this up and coming act the way that they did was an absolutely moving experience that you really can’t explain unless you were there. There are many bands that hit the stage every night and pour their hearts out, but you could actually see and feel the heart, sweat and raw emotion emanating from all the individuals in this group during this performance. I like to think as a songwriter and performer I am in tuned to these kind of things, can relate to a performing band when I see them. But I honestly have never been this moved by a band, and for that I am truly thankful.
When choosing my “must see” artists for this year’s event, there was one band that was at the very top of the list, and that was Spirit Family Reunion. I was lucky enough to get Stephen (the raucous and percussive washboard player) to answer a few questions for me in a feature I am calling “9 Questions to Newport”.
1 ) What projects are you currently working on or have you recently released?
S: We are currenly coming up with new songs that will eventually end up on our next album which will most likely come out next year.
2) Newport Folk is celebrated for its collaborations, community and bringing folks together for a weekend where they may not see each other otherwise. How do you feel about that preservation of unity and family sentiment in the folk music community?
S: Playing music together is a huge part of what we do. We love playing with friends and strangers and we are happy that Newport is keeping it going.
3) Favorite OR least favorite/most embarrassing moment on stage from your career?
S: I tripped off the stage in Chicago and knocked a drink out of a woman’s hand. But she was being loud so maybe she deserved it.
4) If you could collaborate with anyone musically, who would it be?
S: I can only speak for myself (Stephen) and not the rest of the band, but I would say Billy Childish or Ty Segall or Mick Collins. I’m sure the whole band would like to play with Michael Hurley, Gillian Welch, Chris Denny
5) 1 record that shaped you when you first started playing and 1 record that best represent who you are now/are listening to now?
S: Chronicle Vol. 1 by Creedence. Reverse Shark Attack –Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin
6) So, why is creating music important to you? Why do you hit the stage night after night, pull out the old song notebook every day, or whatever else you do to let loose your creativity?
S: Because, it’s What we love doing and we prefer it to anything else.
7) Do you have any "guilty pleasure" music? Something the world may be surprised to hear you listen to or draw inspiration from?
S: I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. Guilty pleasures are for people that aren’t comfortable with themselves and their choices. If you like something, then you like it. That’s it.
I just said ‘Ty Segall’. Pretty sure people don’t think Spirit Family Reunion gets inspiration from him.
8) Aside from music, do you have any other pastimes? What would you want people to know about you aside from your musical endeavors?
S: Film,Astronomy,recording, photography
9) Anything else you want to plug or we should know?
S: At Newport everyone should see Hurray for the Riff Raff, Bombino and Michael Hurley
Spirit Family Reunion will be playing Sunday, July 28th at 1:10 PM on the Quad Stage.
Also, check the band out online at: http://www.spiritfamilyreunion.com/