Thursday, January 16, 2014

9 Moments at Newport in Photo: 2013

Tickets went on sale, I wrote up my first "who I want to see" article (HERE), and now I am thinking back on the past few years of the greatest musical event on earth and wishing that July would get here quicker. While I can openly admit, most every second I spend at Fort Adams is a memorable one, there are those certain moments that stick with you clear as the reflection of boat masts in the water of Newport harbor. Those truly special moments that choke you up a bit, clear you from your daily woes, and make you just happy to be alive and able to enjoy all that this beautiful festival has to offer. Here is a recap of  9 of those moments for me from the 2013 Newport Folk Festival (in no particular order)...

1) Dan Blakeslee at the Museum Open Mic- I mentioned Mr. Blakeslee in my "folks I want to see at Newport in 2014" post yesterday, and seeing him in the museum with that banner flying behind him choked me up a bit (wasn't the first time, and wasn't the last at this festival). Dan is a born performer. I am pretty sure he was put here on this earth to make people smile, and make people smile he does. The sea of heads in the museum were locked dead ahead on him as he sang out. We must have run into each other a 100 times over the weekend, but stumbling into the middle of his song in the museum was by far the best encounter I had...and lucky enough to snap off a few photos of. I was also lucky enough to catch my friends Ian Fitzgerald and Courtney Gallagher when they hit the open mic stage earlier as well, which was quite the treat as well!

2) Mariachi in a tent in the rain - Feist was one of the acts my wife wanted to catch the most this
weekend and just like that, the skies opened up when she was about to play. That's alright though, we found a tent towards the back and settled in to listen from afar, that's when it happened. The gals with the instruments showed up to play the rain away (figuratively, that is... I mean the rain kept coming, they just made us happier about it). There must have been 50-60 folks crowded under a tent that no more than 30 could comfortably fit, but as the mariachi ladies sung and played it didn't matter. Your neighbor touching shoulders with you was your best friend for all you cared. It was a nice change of pace from my usual train ride when someone rubs against you and a perfect example of why NFF is so special and inviting.

3) Shovels and Rope "In the Pit" - Occasionally when I am "shooting" a set or a show I feel bad. I feel like one of those a-holes that is at an amazing show and is watching the entire thing through a two and a half inch screen to get a crappy iPhone video just so my friends know how cool I am and I was there. I say to those folks "live in the moment and put the phone down", but I guess as a media outlet you are there for a job. That being said, when Cary Ann and Michael stepped out on stage I snapped a handful of quick ones then took a knee in the pit and just watched and listened. I was lucky enough to be touching the stage for a job, but believe you me, I was there enjoying it for myself rather than taking pictures. I love these two, have ever since I saw them open for Hayes Carll and Jason Isbell years back when no one knew them and still do today. They absolutely knock my socks off.

4) Ramblin' Jack all by his Lonesome - I tell you, seeing Ramblin' Jack up there on that big stage, playing and telling stories to multiple generations of fans was really something. Top it all off with the fact that I got to watch with one of my best songwriting buddies, Ian and when I looked to my left Alynda from Hurray for the Riff Raff was hanging out and tossed me a "yes, I agree that this is pretty amazing" smile, it was a truly magical moment. Not to mention I got to shake the man's hand backstage and tell him how much I appreciate his storytelling. Whoooo weee, someone slap me.

5) Newport Loves Lamb - The outpouring of love for Dave brought tears to my eyes. It was wonderful, it was beautiful, it was just such a great example of how the fans really do love the performers at this festival and it is something special that is untouchable by other events. We love you Dave.

6) Bombino and my pal Avi - Avi is another one of these guys who just makes you smile. If you
look up "good vibes" in the dictionary, there is a picture of Avi's smiling face. I came across the harbor stage to hear some wonderful noises and look up to see his mop bouncing around on stage, blowing his harp along with Bombino. That lifted my heart right up and made me smile as wide as the 138 bridge coming into Newport.

7) The Berklee Gospel Choir - HALLELUJAH! I feel spirited, I feel lifted, I feel good! Talk about energy and celebrating life. I came out front behind the Fort stage to be greeted by these wonderful performers and stood there in a daze for a good 15 minutes just taking it all in.

8) Joe Fletcher in the Museum - Thank you Joe for introducing the Newport family to so many
amazing people and artists. I truly hope this is something that NFF adopts for all years going forward. Some sort of midday spanning collection of artists from Newport, Nashville, the Northeast...wherever. It was simply a wonderful way to introduce a lot of great artists in one big sweep. One place, one seat all day if you want, you get a ton of incredible music...I am sure one local music community advocate wouldn't mind putting something similar together, if you catch my drift.

9) Drawing a blank - Not really forgetting like drawing a blank, but this picture is blank. The reason for that is the set that I most thoroughly enjoyed from NFF 2013 I did not actually attend. That was the Milk Carton Kids. I for some idiotic reason did not make my way over to see these two guys despite all logical reasoning of why I should love them and they are like my musical, songwriting brethren. Long story short, I have probably listened to the archive of their set at least 50 times in the past 4 months. I have been made a fan of these two for life.


  1. You missed a great set by the MLK.

  2. Yes, Kathy. I am quite bummed that I missed Joey and Kenneth. But VERY happy that NPR broadcasts these sets. Such a treat to relive the weekend and catch things you may have missed