While others were enjoying the city's remaining events in July, Time Out made a weekend getaway to the 55th annual Newport Folk Festival held at the picturesque Fort Adams State Park. The genre-bending lineup ranged from heavyweights like Jack White, Nickel Creek and Conor Oberst (backed by Dawes) to lesser-known—yet equally impressive—artists like Lake Street Dive, the Oh Hellos and Caitlin Rose. Top it off with some Jenny Lewis, whose festival clothing and stage decor were outfitted with rainbow accents, and we literally had ourselves a Skittles-like assortment of the music universe.
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The threat of rain didn’t discourage artists from delivering top-notch sets, and festivalgoers were left with more memorable moments than they could keep track of. Ryan Adams’s heart-gripping rendition of “Oh My Sweet Carolina” silenced even the most unruly of spectators. Backed by a breathtaking harmonicist (who doubles as a washboardist!), Pokey LaFarge’s ragtime blues transported everyone to the old-timey banks of the Mississippi. Rodrigo y Gabriela’s stupefying acoustic guitar acrobatics earned themselves a frenzied standing ovation a mere ten seconds into the set.
This year’s festivities were dedicated to gospel and soul royalty Mavis Staples, who recently celebrated her 75th birthday. She never missed a step while making the rounds, treating audiences to surprise performances with Lucius, Jeff Tweedy and Puss n Boots (Norah Jones’s alt-country project), to name a few. Her folk-infused set that closed out the festival hushed critics who may have questioned if she’s got the chops to keep up with her much younger counterparts at Newport. The answer is: That girl’s still got it.
With a never-ending list of artists eager to perform on its historical stages and a noticeably growing crowd year after year, this festival isn’t slowing down anytime soon.