Newport Folk 2017 Preview

As the music festival industry in America has professionalized, it has also corporatized, to the point where it can be tough to tell one from the other. But very...
Newport Folk

Newport Folk 2017 Preview

As the music festival industry in America has professionalized, it has also corporatized, to the point where it can be tough to tell one from the other. But very much having its own signature style is Newport Folk Festival, with roots going back to before Dylan went electric. It return to Rhode Island Friday-Sunday, July 28th-30th:



Fort Stage

Fleet Foxes, 6:15 PM – 7:00 PM

After the decent Sun Giant EP (QRO review), maybe no band broke out in as big a way in 2008 as Fleet Foxes with their self-titled debut full-length (QRO review) – a breakthrough that earned them (QRO photos at a festival) a fair share of hype-backlash. The Seattle band’s folk hymnals garnered huge popularity (some of which was due to their more engaging live shows – QRO photos). After the whirlwind, the Foxes took some time off, but came back in 2011 Helplessness Blues (QRO review), disappeared again, and now come back (QRO live review this year, playing for television) behind Crack-Up (QRO review). Whether or not you think they’re overrated, they return to once more headline Newport Folk.
Fleet Foxes
The Head and The Heart, 4:40 PM – 5:50 PM

Things have been seriously booming for The Head and The Heart (QRO live review). The Seattle alt-folk/pop band (QRO photos outdoors) was signed by Sub Pop (QRO photos outdoors), named their city’s best new band by Seattle Weekly, opened for everybody from Dave Matthews to Death Cab for Cutie. They since graduated to headlining status (QRO live review) behind 2013’s sweet Let’s Be Still (QRO review) – though their crowds never were (QRO photos at a festival). They come to Newport Folk behind last year’s Signs of Light (QRO review).
The Head and The Heart
Shovels & Rope, 3:10 PM – 4:10 PM

South Carolina folk duo Shovels & Rope (QRO photos) – a.k.a. husband & wife Michael Trent & Cary Ann Hearst (QRO photos at a festival) – finally found success when they teamed up, and have been getting serious notice, as well as playing Newport Folk last year (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’16) and in 2014 (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’14).
Shovels & Rope
Hurray For the Riff Raff, 1:55 PM – 2:45 PM

New Orleans’ Hurray For the Riff Raff (QRO photos at a festival) bring their folk-blues along the coast of the America all the way back to Newport (QRO photos at Newport Folk ‘14).
Hurray For the Riff Raff
Blind Pilot, 12:40 PM – 1:30 PM

Eco-friendly Portland has given the eco-friendly indie-folk of Blind Pilot (QRO photos), who did a whole tour in 2008 on bicycle, and the group (QRO photos) is touring behind last year’s And Then Like Lions.
Blind Pilot

Aaron Lee Tasjan, 11:30 AM – 12:15 PM QRO photos

Aaron Lee Tasjan

Quad Stage

Regina Spektor, 5:35 PM – 6:35 PM

The Soviet-born Regina Spektor (QRO live review) emerged out of New York City’s East Village anti-folk scene to unsurprising critical acclaim, but also relatively surprising commercial acclaim, with albums Far (QRO review) and What We Saw From the Cheap Seats (QRO review) each debuting at #3 on the Billboard charts. Spektor (QRO photos) comes to Newport Folk behind last year’s Remember Us To Life, not to mention making the theme song to Orange Is the New Black.
Regina Spektor
Ben Gibbard, 4:10 PM – 5:10 PM

Of course you know Ben Gibbard, frontman for alternative rock hits Death Cab for Cutie (QRO album review) – he welcomed “The New Year”, heard “The Sound of Settling”, found where “Soul Meets Body”, told you “I Will Possess Your Heart”, and much more. He even morphed from dorky indie-rock guy with glasses to Pacific Northwest beefcake (QRO photos), to the point of being at one point married to actress/singer Zooey Deschanel (The New Girl, She & Him). He’s also built a solo career (even as Death Cab has revolved more and more around him), such as 2012’s Former Lives (QRO review) which he brings to Newport Folk (QRO photos).
Ben Gibbard
Alone and Together, 2:50 PM – 3:45 PM

A special team-up for Newport Folk ’17 is ‘Alone and Together’, featuring Kevin Morby (QRO photos at a festival), Sam Cohen, Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats (QRO photos at a festival), Joe Russo (QRO photos at a festival) and Josh Kaufman.
Alone and Together
Big Thief, 1:35 PM – 2:25 PM

It takes a lot for a band to name their album Masterpiece – their debut, in fact. But Brooklyn indie-folksters Big Thief (QRO photos outdoors in Brooklyn) pulled it off, and come to Newport Folk behind their recent follow-up, Capacity.
Big Thief

Seratones, 12:25 PM – 1:10 PM QRO photos at a festival

Joshua Hedley, 11:15 AM – 12:00 PM


Harbor Stage

Nancy & Beth with Nick Offerman, 5:05 PM – 6:05 PM

Nancy & Beth is the musical team-up of comedians Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) and Stephanie Hunt. And at Newport Folk, there will be a guest appearance by Mullally’s husband, Nick Offerman.
Nancy & Beth

Brent Cobb, 3:45 PM – 4:40 PM

Carl Broemel, 2:25 PM – 3:20 PM

L.A. Salami, 1:10 PM – 2:00 PM

The Wild Reeds, 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM

Matt the Electrician, 11:00 AM – 11:40 AM

Brent Cobb
Museum Stage

The Ballroom Thieves’ “Beantown Throwdown”, 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

For Pete’s Sake: Baskery, 1:20 PM – 2:00 PM

For Pete’s Sake: Joe Purdy, 12:30 PM – 1:15 PM

For Pete’s Sake: Kevin Locke, 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Open Mic, 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Joe Purdy




Fort Stage

Wilco, 6:15 PM – 7:30 PM

For alt-country, there’s pretty much Wilco (QRO live review outdoors), and then there’s everybody else. The Chicago stars, led by singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy (QRO solo photos at a festival), but also featuring bassist John Stirratt, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone (the two of whom also form The Autumn Defense – QRO spotlight on), guitarist Nels Cline (QRO photos), drummer Glenn Kotche, pianist Mikael Jorgensen, and more (like “Jesus, Etc.” – QRO video), have played everywhere from Conan at home to “Far, Far Away” (QRO video). They’ve also been excellent for so long (QRO live review outdoors) that their set lists are mammoth (QRO live review) and still can’t cover everything (QRO live review) from the late greats like “I’m the Man Who Loves You” (QRO video) to more recent material off of Sky Blue Sky (QRO review), Wilco (The Album) (QRO review), The Whole Love (QRO review), Star Wars (QRO review), and Schmilco (QRO review), like “Hate It Here” (QRO video). The quintessential American band (QRO live review) comes to headline Newport Folk (QRO photos at a festival), so look for the full Wilco (QRO live review), as they play it all (QRO live review) in Rhode Island (QRO photos at a festival).
The Avett Brothers, 4:40 PM – 5:45 PM

One of the bigger – and better – hits of today’s new Americana (QRO photos at a festival), The Avett Brothers (QRO photos at a festival) won a wide audience with 2009’s fine country of I and Love and You (QRO review), including playing on The Grammys with Bob Dylan, and followed that up in 2012 with The Carpenter (QRO review). Last year’s True Sadness (QRO review) did sort of show a limit to their ability, but their country is a perfect fit for Newport Folk Festival (QRO photos at a festival) – they’ve played the festival three times before (QRO photos at a festival)!
The Avett Brothers
Angel Olsen, 3:10 PM – 4:10 PM

Angel Olsen (QRO photos at a festival) began her career singing back up for Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & The Cairo Gang (QRO live review), but has since found her own beautiful voice, and comes back to Newport Folk Festival.
Angel Olsen

Offa Rex, 1:45 PM – 2:45 PM

Grandma’s Hands Band, 12:35 PM – 1:20 PM

Chicano Batman, 11:25 AM – 12:10 PMQRO photos at a festival

Chicano Batman

Quad Stage

Drive-By Truckers, 5:40 PM – 6:40 PM

The Suthron, ‘three-axe attack’ of Drive-By Truckers (QRO photos at a festival) comes from the backcountry of Alabama & Georgia to Rhode Island. They’ve kept strong since the 2007 departure of Jason Isbell (QRO photos at a festival), in 2008 with the charting Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, and even higher with 2010’s The Big To-Do and the following year’s Go-Go Boots (QRO review). They come to Newport Folk behind last year’s American Band – can’t make it any clearer than that.
Drive-By Truckers
Jim James, 4:20 PM – 5:15 PM

The main man behind alt-country stars My Morning Jacket (QRO album review) and a member of the Monsters of Folk (QRO album review), Jim James stepped out solo in 2013 with Regions of Light and Sound of God (QRO review), which is just as good as your high expectations. Last year came Eternally Even, so Jeff Tweedy of headliner Wilco (see above) better watch out – there’s a new king of alt-country (QRO live review)!
Jim James
Nikki Lane, 2:55 PM – 3:50 PM

Outlaw country singer/songwriter Nikki Lane (QRO photos at a festival) comes to Newport Folk behind three great records, Walk of Shame, All or Nothin’, and Highway Queen.
Nikki Lane
Mandolin Orange, 1:40 PM – 2:30 PM

Chapel Hill’s Mandolin Orange (QRO photos at a festival) play beautiful Americana music that yes, includes the mandolin (QRO photos), most recently on last year’s Blindfaller.
Mandolin Orange

Marlon Williams, 12:25 PM – 1:15 PM

Julia Jacklin, 11:10 AM – 12:00 PM

Julia Jacklin

Harbor Stage

Billy Bragg & Joe Henry, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

England’s Billy Bragg (QRO photos at a festival) has been mixing folk & punk about as long as the latter has existed, crafted into protest material. He’s worked with everyone from Newport Folk headliner Wilco (see above) – putting folk legend Woody Guthrie’s unrecorded lyrics to music in Mermaid Avenue & Mermaid Avenue Vol. II – to ska-punks Less Than Jake (QRO interview) for “The Brightest Bulb Has Burner Out” on 2004’s Rock Against Bush. For Newport Folk, he teams up with multiple Grammy winner Joe Henry, who himself as worked with everyone from Elvis Costello to Helmet.
Billy Bragg & Joe Henry
Joseph, 3:45 PM – 4:35 PM

Sisters Allison, Meagan, and Natalie Closner form Portland’s Joseph (QRO photos) have been getting serious notice for their folk sound, including at festivals (QRO photos at a festival).
Robert Ellis, 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM

Houston native, Nashville-based Robert Ellis (QRO photos at a festival) channels country & western as much as those cities would indicate, and has played with the likes of Alabama Shakes, Old Crow Medicine Show, Old 97’s, and Deer Tick (QRO photos with Deer Tick).
Robert Ellis

J.P. Harris & Chance McCoy, 1:15 PM – 2:05 PM

Jalen N’Gonda, 12:05 PM – 12:50 PM

Mt. Joy, 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM

Jalen N’Gonda

Museum Stage

Working Artist Songwriter Podcast with Joe Pug, 3:00 PM – 6:00 PMQRO photos at Newport Folk ‘15

For Pete’s Sake: Kitty Amaral & Cosmic Strings Coalition, 2:00 PM – 2:45 PM

For Pete’s Sake: Christopher Paul Stelling, 1:20 PM – 2:00 PM QRO photos at Newport Folk ‘16

For Pete’s Sake: Casey Neill, 12:30 PM – 1:15 PM

For Pete’s Sake: Lyla June, 11:45 AM – 12:20 PM

For Pete’s Sake: Berklee Instant Strings, 11:00 AM – 11:40 AM

Open Mic, 10:00 AM – 10:50 AM
Joe Pug

Christopher Paul Stelling




Fort Stage

John Prine, 6:15 PM – 7:30 PM

The venerable John Prine (QRO photos at a festival) first emerged in the Chicago folk scene of the seventies (discovered by Kris Kristofferson), and has never stopped – not even cancer on his neck in 1998 could stop him, though did add some gravel to his voice. He’s racked up awards, as well, including induction into the Grammys Hall of Fame in 2015! He returns to Newport Folk, after playing the festival in 2010.
John Prine
Speak Out, 4:40 PM – 5:45 PM

Of course Newport Folk Festival is gonna have a political edge – this is the era of The Resistance in Trump’s America.
Speak Out
Rhiannon Giddens, 3:40 PM – 4:15 PM

A founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops (QRO photos), Rhiannon Giddens (QRO photos) brings her old-timey soulful voice to Newport Folk Festival.
Rhiannon Giddens
Michael Kiwanuka, 1:45 PM – 2:45 PM

Compared to the likes of Otis Redding and Randy Newman, Michael Kiwanuka (QRO photos) is an acclaimed soul musician known for his confessional and incantatory songwriting. He comes to Newport Folk behind last year’s sophomore release, Love & Hate.
Michael Kiwanuka

Chuck!, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Sunday Groove w/ Preservation Hall Jazz Band, 11:15 AM – 12:05 PMQRO photos

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Quad Stage

American Acoustic, 5:20 PM – 6:40 PM

Newport Folk ’17 artists like Trampled By Turtles (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’14) and others play a special collaborative acoustic set at to close out the Quad Stage.
American Acoustic
Dr. Dog, 3:55 PM – 4:55 PM

Newport Folk has some of the jam-festival with Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog (QRO photos), who have become a festival regular (QRO photos at a festival) since 2008’s commercial breakthrough Fate (QRO review) launched them into headlining status (QRO photos headlining a festival). Unfortunately, Fate wasn’t anything special (QRO photos), but Dr. Dog make a lot of people happy live (QRO photos outdoors), especially outdoors (QRO live review outdoors at a festival), so expect the “Sweetness”, along with material from middling records such as Shame, Shame (QRO review), Be the Void (QRO review), B-Room (QRO review) and more.
Dr. Dog
Whitney, 2:35 PM – 3:30 PM

Shortly after Max Kakacek & Julien Ehrlich’s young Smith Westerns (QRO photos at a festival) broke up, the pair formed their new outfit, Whitney (QRO photos at a festival). And they’ve certainly grown up, as debut Light Upon the Lake was one of the best records of last year (QRO Top Albums of 2016).
Margaret Glaspy, 1:25 PM – 2:10 PM

Margaret Glaspy (QRO photos) has previously teamed up with the likes of The Fundies & Jamie Stone, but comes to Newport Folk on her own, behind last year’s Emotions and Math.
Margaret Glaspy
Steelism w/ Ruby Amanfu & Nicole Atkins, 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM

Experience ‘Steelism’ with Ruby Amanfu and Nicole Atkins (QRO spotlight on).


Berklee Gospel & Roots Choir, 11:05 AM – 11:50 AM

Nicole Atkins

Harbor Stage

Suzanne Vega, 5:05 PM – 6:05 PM

In the late eighties/early nineties, when female singer/songwriters struggled to get mainstream attention, Suzanne Vega (QRO photos at a festival) broke through with such singles as “Luka”, “Tom’s Diner”, and “99.9F°”. She has kept on going (QRO photos outdoors), mixing alt-folk with industrial and more, most recently with last year’s Lover, Beloved: Songs from an Evening with Carson McCullers.
Suzanne Vega

John Paul White, 3:40 PM – 4:35 PMQRO photos

Unannounced, 2:25 PM – 3:15 PM

Pinegrove, 1:15 PM – 2:00 PM

C.W. Stoneking, 12:05 PM – 12:50 PM

Choir! Choir! Choir!, 11:00 AM – 11:40 AM

John Paul White


Museum Stage

I Got a Song w/ Rick Massimo, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Jalopy Theatre, 2:20 PM – 4:45 PM

For Pete’s Sake: Olivia Chaney, 1:20 PM – 2:00 PM

For Pete’s Sake: Noam Pikelny, 12:30 PM – 1:15 PM

For Pete’s Sake: Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge, 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM

For Pete’s Sake: Kim & Reggie Harris, 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Open Mic, 10:00 AM – 10:50 AM
Olivia Chaney



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