Sunday, July 27, 2014

Newport Folk Fest, Saturday - The Folk

Welcome back.
Sometimes we take weird angles at the Folk Fest. Honestly, it's not that we're trying to be weird, but sometimes that's just how the experience turns out. We grossly apologize for the quickly hewn-together Friday coverage (still, check out sommah those bands!) as we were running on fumes, exhaustion, and no tea. Something that would make the kindest Arthur Dent (another author reference - Douglas Adams) a bit shaky in his delivery. In any case, here's the story we were really writing when we were typing last night:

The shirt is coming along. It's about 80% filled and there's still a day ahead. Our first signature Friday was Mike Savino of Tall Tall Trees, and today, we opted for something different: a couple festival contacts who somehow think we're worth bringing into the Festival. I know, strange, huh? Against Ms. McC's furious attestations that she was going to "ruin the shirt," we finally convinced one of the hardest-working women behind the festival to be part of our experience. Mr. DG, the other fellow we have contact with, just banged his signature right out.
No fuss, no problems.

The festival, to us, is about the experience, more than the CDs we picked up (we'll get to that), and we're of the type that we like to have some memento of that experience. That's why we like keeping a few CDs around, why we had to print our dinky little book out, and unfortunately, we haven't kept our press passes; it's that palpable memory that we want to keep of the festival. Something to look at and reminisce in old, curmudgeonly age. In short: buy stuff!

Now, open the gates:

The tides come in
We're convinced that behind every 3 festival-goers, there's one festival worker like this guy above working (mostly) in the background. Not an easy thing to coordinate.

They help put together the speakers and mics that Robert Hunter fussed a bit with. And they were up bright and early to let Willie Watson on the Alex and Ani Harbor Stage.

Why, juss me an my twangy lil' girl
Willie Watson... needs a bit of a tangent from us in order to explain. Our father had a few records on him, covers of horses and cowboys, names we never heard of before (and will never hear of again, they're not on CD), album titles like "Twangy Country Guitar." Never played one. But, to us that's country, not the modern Carrie Underwood-pop with a Southern Accent. Guy with a guitar singing innocent little songs about the farm, pre-Johnny Cash (we scooped up those gems, yes), Country because that's where you lived, in the country. Boondocks. Twice removed from the boonies, actually; yes that far.

Willie Watson is the perfect candidate for that sleepy little genre that has pretty much gone away. Crooning old soul's voice, style - well, check the pic - not too twangy, but definitely he comes from that generation two generations ago. Congrats, you human time-machine.

[Enter paragraph about The Oh Hellos here]
Don't worry, we'll get to them... but we've come unstuck in time on this post (Vonnegut).

Benjamin Booker is touring with the day's headliner Jack White. We took a few photos:

Kids nowadays...
And yes, he does look like he's about seventeen. Really, really young. The photo added about fifteen years, but - Jeesh! - yes, young.

Jack White's stamp of approval is all over the kid, so you know he's coming from a hard rock edge. We listened for a bit, and honestly, he's good, but we're not quite sure what we're missing here. Reignwolf was - nuts - and Booker didn't quite strike us that we need to go out and get his album. But we'll see. There's always the chance for surprise.


Shakey Graves, on the other hand, is our second place for today. Funky funky dude, these Austin, Texans strikes us a bit like Dan Auerbach's solo stuff, with Springsteenish vocal color, and just.. a crowd. The crowd was rough. rightly deserved. Here's the lead singer:

The gents would shake our graves, any day

Right now we're trying, trying so hard not to just jump into our favorite band of the day. Really. It's tough.

Best Covers Award goes to Houndmouth (Soundcloud, but no sounds! Go bug them). Starting off with a Funkadelic tune, they were spot on. Just fantastic. We were caught in a serious conundrum between Shakey Graves and Houndmouth - which stage to go for? where's my "evil" twin when you need him? - and despite all the great photos we have of them, and that we love Shakey and wanted more of Houndmouth, alas, Deer Tick awaited.

And one obligatory Deer Tick photo later:

Rental attendant suits: $600. Amtrack travel for eight: $1500. Thumbing your nose at a major airline...

In case you didn't hear, they were dressed up as airline attendants. Hrm. We wonder why.You know we like them, but there's a lot to travel by foot yet.

Actually, just a couple more bands for y'all.

First, we'll start with the best. Then end with the last. That seems fair.

Out of the virtual nowhere comes... wait for it...

Beware: flying banjos
The Oh Hellos were three steps, two banjos, and fifty feet of crowd ahead of any other stage we'd caught on Saturday. We're fairly going to say they were THE ACT of the festival. So far? Yes. Of the whole festival? Well, perhaps another yes.
To describe their sound, we need only one word. Joyous. There is pure joy and air in their compositions, just naked like a new child, harmonies, some bluegrass feel to it, and just unabashedly earnest. This is the CD we picked up, and we're going to give you some links later tonight so y'all can listen to their debut full-length. Really. We made all our photographer-friends jealous by letting them know how terrible human beings they were to miss 20% of the band running around in the crowd.

And... Jack White.
We don't know what we're going to say about Jack White.

You probably already know him from The White Stripes and a slew of other projects, only 1/3 of which we're aware of, but here's where we'd like to end Saturday's coverage.

A beefy state trooper starts walking toward us (toward me, specifically), with an unpleasant look on the face. Really unpleasant. Serious. He walks up, takes note of something, and goes back. When he comes back again, there are two festival medics with him; and, unbeknownst to us, one partier has crashed just a wee bit, only a few feet away.
You see, we were busy trying to write something up on Jack White. Notes are illegible.
The poor fellow was down, and the two medics (plus the state trooper) help out the likely over-alcoholed, over-sunned music-goer, extract him from the crowd, and that's the end of our little view into that world.

Jack White, guitar fuzz, all that other stuff still going.

So for this post, we'll dedicate to the folk of the Folk Fest (including Katie our medic friend!) who keep things running. Who keep crowds in order. Who keep photographers from shooting Jack White, even. And keep partiers around, to party another day. Ms. McC wondered why I was so insistent on the autograph, but I hope this clarifies a couple things about that.

Zack Wiggs' better half


Now onward, to the final day!
-Mgmt.

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