Newport Folk Festival 2021 Preview

The legendary Newport Folk Festival is not only returning, but has expanded to two three-day runs....
Newport Folk
Newport Folk

Almost all the festivals last year were cancelled, and many of them are skipping 2021 as well, or moving to the packed fall. But the legendary Newport Folk Festival is not only returning, but has expanded to two three-day runs, first Friday-Sunday, July 23rd-25th, but also the immediately following Monday-Wednesday, July 26th-28th, all at Fort Adams State Park in Rhode Island.

[updated with weekend schedule – weekday schedule to come, announced weekday acts listed]



FRIDAY, JULY 23rd

 

Lawn Stage  

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, 6:05 PM – 7:30 PM

Denver’s Nathaniel Rateliff (QRO photos) brings sad indie-folks sounds with his band, The Night Sweats (QRO photos at a festival), as he has successfully climbed the festival ladder (QRO photos headlining a festival) behind last year’s And It’s Still Alright (QRO review). He plays his third Newport Folk (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’16), after having to cancel last year.

Rateliff also plays a special solo set on Sunday, headlining the Quad Stage (see below).

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
   

Margo Price, 4:30 PM – 5:35 PM

The Fader once called Margo Price (QRO photos a festival) “country’s next star,” and she’s become it, winning the Grammy for ‘Best New Artist’ in 2019. There’s not a better place to find that out than at Newport Folk Festival (QRO photos at a festival), which she comes back to (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’18) after last year’s acclaimed hit album That’s How Rumors Get Started.

She also plays a special second early set on Saturday with Jeremy Ivey (see below)

Margo Price
   

Shakey Graves, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Shakey Graves (QRO photos at a festival) is the post-folk alter ego of Austin’s Alejandro Rose-Garcia (QRO photos), who comes back to Newport Folk for a four time (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’18) with an extra ‘e’.

Shakey Graves
   

Black Joe Lewis, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

On Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is (QRO review) and more, Austin’s Black Joe Lewis (QRO photos at an Austin festival) pretty much just copied James Brown, but even a copy of the hardest working man in show business brings a party (QRO photos outdoors at home).

 

Also:

Ida Mae, 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
   
   
Quad Stage  

Grace Potter, 5:40 PM – 6:45 PM

While many jam bands on the festival circuit seem to have been playing forever, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (QRO photos at a festival) formed & broke out more recently (QRO photos at festival), thanks to 2007’s This Is Somewhere. The funky blues-soul act (QRO photos at a festival) earned major praise for 2010’s self-titled release (QRO review) and 2012’s The Lion The Beast The Beat, and got bigger & bigger (QRO photos at a festival).

In 2015, however, Grace Potter went solo (QRO photos at a festival) and released her first proper solo album, Midnight, following it up with 2019’s Daylight. During COVID she couldn’t tour, so did a weekly Twilight streaming series, including an episode on the set of the original Star Trek. Beam me up, Potty (QRO photos at a festival), as she makes up for missing last year (QRO live review this year) by coming to Newport Folk ‘21!

Grace Potter
   

The Marcus King Band, 4:10 PM – 5:10 PM

Marcus King (QRO photos at a festival) and his band come up from South Carolina after not being able to play Newport Folk last year, behind 2018’s Carolina Confessions.

The Marcus King Band
   

Lucy Dacus, July 23rd

Norfolk’s Lucy Dacus (QRO photos) has found lots of new fans during the COVID pandemic, like her fellow members of boygenius, Phoebe Bridgers & fellow Newport Folk ’21 performer (see below) Julien Baker. She comes back to her second Newport Folk in a row (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’19) behind her amazing just-out Home Video (QRO review) and finally putting out her single “Thumbs” (QRO review).

Lucy Dacus
   

Also:

Celisse, 1:15 PM – 2:10 PM

Resistance Revival Chorus, 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM QRO photos

Resistance Revival Chorus

 

 

 

 

SATURDAY, JULY 24th

 

Lawn Stage  

Jason Isbell, 6:05 PM – 7:30 PM

One of the biggest & best names in today’s alt-country, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit (QRO photos at a festival) bring all the best of his home of Nashville (QRO photos in Nashville). Last year saw Isbell release his excellent Reunions (QRO review), as well as the powerful duet with wife Amanda Shires, “The Problem” (QRO review). He’s also one of the best music follows on Twitter, so be ready for great banter between great songs when he returns to Newport Folk (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’19).

Jason Isbell
   

Randy Newman, 4:30 PM – 5:35 PM

At some other festivals, one would wonder why satirical icon Randy Newman, the man responsible for soundtracks from The Natural to Toy Story 4 (but also last year’s Marriage Story) is playing, but he’s actually a great fit for Newport Folk. He played it thirty years ago, he was supposed to play it last year, and before his soundtracking days, Newman brought the idea of the unreliable narrator to the wider songwriting world – yacht-rock classic “Sail Away” is actually a slave trader’s recruiting pitch to the natives. And it’ll be something you can tell your old parents, something you can tell your young kids.

Randy Newman
   

Joy Oladokun, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Mixing everything from folk to R&B is Joy Oladokun, who just this year released In Defense of My Own Happiness.

Joy Oladokun
   

Phosphorescent Goes Acoustic, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Alt-country/indie-folk has been booming, especially on the festival circuit, so there’s gonna be a slot for Athens, Georgia-by-way-of-Brooklyn, NY (QRO photos outdoors at a festival in Brooklyn) Phosphorescent (QRO photos outdoors). After playing Europe (QRO European tour review) & America in 2013 behind the Muchacho, they’re less jam & more touch than their contemporaries, and love to play outdoors (QRO photos outdoors) and at festivals (QRO photos at a festival). They come back to Newport Folk for a second year in a row, behind 2018’s C’est la vie – this time playing acoustic.

 

Also:

Demeanor, 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM

Phosphorescent
   
   
Quad Stage  

Andrew Bird & Jimbo Mathus, 5:40 PM – 6:45 PM

Chicago multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird (QRO live review) plays everything from guitar to whistle, but is best known for his impressive violin work (QRO photos), which manages to be both timely and timeless (QRO photos) on such albums as Armchair Apocrypha (QRO review) and more, up to 2019’s humble My Finest Work Yet (QRO review), last year’s holiday-themed Hark!, and this year’s These 13 with Squirrel Nut Zippers guitarist Jimbo Mathus. Bird (QRO photos) is a great addition for a festival (QRO photos outdoors), or anything else: he even did the whistling in The Muppets. Bird comes back to Newport Folk with Mathus for a special performance.

Andrew Bird
   

Waxahatchee, 4:10 PM – 5:10 PM

Katie Crutchfield’s acclaimed indie-folk project Waxahatchee (QRO photos) comes back to Newport Folk off the back of last year’s acclaimed fifth record, Saint Cloud, and was supposed to play last year.

Waxahatchee
   

Natalie Hemby, 2:40 PM – 3:40 PM

While Natalie Hemby first came up writing songs for others like Toby Keith and Lady Gaga, she made her solo debut in 2017 with the wonderful Puxico. Oh, and she’s also one-fourth of the country super-group The Highwomen (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’19), along with Brandi Carlile, Marren Morris, and fellow Newport Folk ’21 perfomer Amanda Shires (see below).

Natalie Hemby
   

Margo Price & Jeremy Ivey, 1:15 PM – 2:10 PM

Friday star Margo Price (see above) plays a special second early set on Saturday with Jeremy Ivey.

 

Also:

Yasmin Williams, 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM

Grace Potter, 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM – BONUS MAKE-UP EARLY PERFORMANCE

Margo Price

 

 

 

 

SUNDAY, JULY 26th

 

Lawn Stage  

Allison Russell’s Once & Future Sounds, 6:05 PM – 7:30 PM

Singer/multi-instrumentalist Allison Russell of jazz-country acts like Po’ Girl and Our Native Daughters (QRO photos at Newport Folk ‘19) returns to Newport Folk all on her own with her ‘Once & Future Sounds’.

Allison Russell
   

Yola, 4:30 PM – 5:35 PM

Bristol, England’s Yola (QRO photos) comes back to Newport Folk Festival, after making a serious splash in 2019 (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’19) and having to cancel 2020, now behind this year’s Stand for Myself.

Yola
   

CAAMP, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Ohio’s CAAMP (QRO photos at a festival) make beautiful folk music, most recently on 2019’s By and By.

CAAMP
   

Kevin Morby, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Formerly the bassist for The Woods and frontman for The Babies, songwriter Kevin Morby (QRO photos at a festival) has since struck out on his own, most recently with last year’s Sundowner, and plays his second Newport Folk Festival in a row.

Kevin Morby
   

Dimmer Twins, 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM

Out of Muscle Shoals, Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood (QRO interview) formed alt-country greats Drive-By Truckers (QRO spotlight on), but for Newport Folk ’21 they plays as a duo, Dimmer Twins. 

Dimmer Twins
   
   
Quad Stage  

Nathaniel Rateliff, 5:05 PM – 6:05 PM

Friday Lawn Stage headliner (see above) Nathaniel Rateliff plays a special second solo set to headline the Quad Stage on Sunday.

Nathaniel Rateliff
   

Billy Strings, 3:35 PM – 4:35 PM

From out of the traditional bluegrass scene in Michigan, Billy Strings (QRO photos) has worked with everyone in the jam scene (QRO photos with Molly Tuttle at Newport Folk ’19), but most recently won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album for Home.

He also plays a special second set on Monday (see below).

Billy Strings
   

Devon Gilfillian, 2:15 PM – 3:05 PM

Blues performer Devon Gilfillian returns to Newport Folk for a second year in a row (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’19) to perform his 2020 front-to-back cover of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 classic What’s Going On.

Devon Gilfillian
   

Erin Rae, July 26th

Erin Rae McKaskle nicely bridges today’s indie-folk with the classic troubadours of the past, as she plays her second Newport Folk Festival in a row, now as ‘Gentle Times’ with her friends.

 

Also:

Tré Burt, 11:45 AM – 12:30 PM

Erin Rae

 

 

 

 

MONDAY, JULY 26th

 

Lawn Stage  

Brothers of a Feather, 6:50 PM – 7:40 PM

To Be Announced, 5:15 PM – 6:20 PM

 

Middle Brother, 3:50 PM – 4:50 PM

John J. McCauley III of Newport Folk ’21’s Deer Tick (see above) + Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’14) + Matthew Logan Vasquez (QRO photos at Newport Folk ‘16) of Delta Spirit (QRO spotlight on) = alt-country/rock supergroup Middle Brother, who’ve played a slew of Newport Folks between them, and this will be Middle Brother’s own third time (QRO photos at Newport Folk ‘16), as they return to touring.

Middle Brother
   

Fruit Bats, 2:25 PM – 3:25 PM

Singer/guitarist/pianist Eric Johnson may have been known for being part of indie-rock hits The Shins (QRO live review, with Johnson), but for well over a decade he’s had his own folk-rock outfit, Fruit Bats (QRO photos at a festival), who recently put out his latest, The Pet Parade, and returns to Newport Folk.

Fruit Bats
   

Courtney Marie Andrews, 1:05 PM – 1:55 PM

Out of beginnings as an auxiliary for emo great Jimmy Eat World on 2010’s Invented (QRO review), folk artist Courtney Marie Andrews (QRO photos) comes to her third Newport Folk in a row (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’19QRO photos at Newport Folk ’18) behind last year’s Old Flowers.

Courtney Marie Andrews
   

Erin Rae, 11:50 AM – 12:40 PM

Erin Rae plays a special second (see above) early set on Monday.

Erin Rae
   
   
Quad Stage Stage  

Billy Strings, 5:40 PM – 6:45 PM

Billy Strings plays another special second (see above) set for his second day in a row at Newport Folk.

Billy Strings
   

Ben Gibbard, 4:10 PM – 5:10 PM

Of course you know Ben Gibbard (QRO photos), 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 was also one-half of indietronic act The Postal Service and their seminal album, Give Up (QRO deluxe edition review). He even morphed from dorky indie-rock guy with glasses to Pacific Northwest beefcake (QRO photos). 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 back to Newport Folk (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’17).

Ben Gibbard
   

Hiss Golden Messenger, 2:40 PM – 3:40 PM

Hiss Golden Messenger (QRO photos at a festival) has had a few lineup changes behind M.C. Taylor – it’s now a full group (QRO photos at a festival) with a rotating band featuring members of Bon Iver, Megafaun and Mountain Man. The lush sound and introspective lyrics never feel overwrought and it’s in a live setting where the band really shines (QRO photos at a festival). Hiss Golden group plays their fourth Newport Folk, now behind this year’s Quietly Blowing It and 2019’s Grammy Award-nominated Terms of Surrender.

Hiss Golden Messenger
   

Aoife O’Donovan, 1:15 PM – 2:10 PM

Aoife O’Donovan fronts the progressive bluegrass/string outfit, Crooked Still, and is a part of female folk-noir trio I’m With Her (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’19), and worked with everyone from Jerry Douglas to Yo-Yo Ma, including radio shows “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Live From Here” (QRO live review). A practical Newport Folk regular  (QRO photos at Newport Folk ‘16), she returns for her umpteenth appearance (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’14).

 

Also:

Sunny War, 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM

Aoife O’Donovan

 

 

 

 

TUESDAY, JULY 27th

 

Lawn Stage  

Beck, 6:10 PM – 7:25 PM

Beck (QRO photos at a festival) is back! Your favorite musical non-conformist (QRO photos at a festival) broke through in the mid-nineties thanks to songs like “Loser”, “Where It’s At”, and “Devil’s Haircut” off of early records Mellow Gold and Odelay (QRO deluxe edition review), mixing white boy funk with indie-rock and experimental – as well also delivering a stripped, soulful folk side to boot. After full-lengths 2008’s Modern Guilt (QRO review) and 2006’s The Information (QRO review), he took off time to work as a producer (such as on Thurston Moore’s Demolished ThoughtsQRO review – and Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks’ Mirror TrafficQRO review), only releasing a few soundtrack tracks (like writing for the fictional band Sex Bob-omb in Scott Pilgrim vs. The WorldQRO soundtrack review) and a ‘song reader’. But he finally delivered a new studio album in 2014 with Morning Phase (QRO review) – and of course it was great.

A perfect headliner for Newport Folk (QRO headlining a festival), he comes after 2017’s release of the Grammy-winning Colors (QRO review) and 2019’s Hyperspace (QRO review), plus appearing last year on Gorillaz’ Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez (QRO review) and worldwide livestream (QRO livestream review), with his entire impressive career in tow (QRO live review).

Beck
   

Sharon Van Etten, 4:25 PM – 5:30 PM

While there’s a ton of stripped songstresses out there, one of the nicer ones is Sharon Van Etten (QRO photos at a festival), who evoked the sad strains of Appalachia on her debut, Because I Was In Love (QRO review), while 2011’s Epic (QRO review) made her the Brooklyn ‘it girl’ (QRO photos in New York), and 2012’s Tramp (QRO review) got her get even more acclaim – and attention (QRO photos). She even had a star-studded show in NYC (QRO photos), where she had special guests like Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth & Aaron Dessner of The National.

Van Etten comes back to Newport Folk (QRO photos at a festival) after missing last year’s, behind 2014’s Are We There (QRO review), last year’s remastered & remixed (it was) because i was in love (QRO review), and 2019’s powerful Remind Me Tomorrow (QRO review), appearing in Netflix’s trippy, fascinating The OA, and a slew of great singles, such as “Like I Used To” (QRO review) with Angel Olsen, “Silent Night” (QRO review), “Let Go” (QRO review), her cover of “Hurt” (QRO review) by Nine Inch Nails, and cover of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” (QRO review) Josh Homme.

Sharon Van Etten
   

To Be Announced, 3:05 PM – 3:55 PM

 

Allison Russell’s Once & Future Sounds, 6:05 PM – 7:30 PM

Allison Russell returns for a special second (see above) set on Tuesday.

Allison Russell
   

Steve Gunn, 12:20 PM – 1:15 PM

Formerly guitarist in Kurt Vile’s Violators (QRO live review), Steve Gunn comes to Newport Folk Festival, after he was supposed to come last year.

 

Also:

Emma Swift, 11:35 AM – 12:00 PM

Steve Gunn

   
   
Quad Stage  

Bonny Light Horseman, 5:35 PM – 6:35 PM

A folk supergroup of Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson of fellow Newport Folk ’21 performer Fruit Bats (see above), and Josh Kaufman of The National and another Newport Folk ’21 player, Hiss Golden Messenger (see above), Bonny Light Horseman come back to their second Newport Folk in a row, behind last year’s Grammy-nominated self-titled debut.

Bonny Light Horseman
   

Fred Armisen, 4:05 PM – 5:05 PM

Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live, Documentary Now!, Portlandia, and more is performing at Newport Folk Fest. While best known as a comedian, he’s also an accomplished musician, leading the 8G Band from drums (like a Max Weinberg) on Late Night with Seth Meyers (a double-threat like his Portlandia co-star Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney), and has been spotted at shows from Les Savy Fav to Bob Mould. Maybe there will be a performance by British punk rocker (& Thatcher supporter) Ian Rubbish…

Fred Armisen
   

Langhorne Slim, July 27th

Pennsylvania’s Langhorne Slim (QRO spotlight on) rides with more of an upswing, with records like this year’s Strawberry Mansion (QRO review), 2017’s Lost at Last Vol. 1 (QRO review), 2015’s The Spirit Moves (QRO review), 2012’s The Way We Move (QRO review), 2009’s Be Set Free (QRO review), and his self-titled 2008 release (QRO review), so come to the “Rebel Side of Heaven” (QRO video) with Langhorne Slim (QRO interview), who returns to Newport Folk for his fifth time (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’16QRO photos at Newport Folk ’15).

Langhorne Slim

Also:

Vagabon, 1:15 PM – 2:10 PM QRO photos at a festival

S.G. Goodman, 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM

Vagabon

 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 28th

 

Lawn Stage  

Deer Tick, 6:05 PM – 7:35 PM

The dirty side of alt-country garage-rock comes back to Newport Folk for the fourth time, in the form of Deer Tick (QRO photos outdoors), who’ve been rockin’ bigger & bigger stages (QRO photos) and wilder & wilder shows (QRO live review) since the release of 2011’s Divine Providence (QRO review). They come to outside of Providence, Rhode Island (QRO photos at a New England festival) behind last year’s Mayonnaise – and frontman John J. McCauley III also brings his side-super-group Middle Brother (see above) to boot.

Deer Tick
   

Julien Baker, 4:30 PM – 5:35 PM

Memphis singer-songwriter Julien Baker (QRO photos at a festival) has severely blown up during the pandemic. This year’s Little Oblivions (QRO review) and singles “Faith Healer” (QRO review), “Hardline” (QRO review) and “Favor” (QRO review) have launched her into the indie big-time (QRO livestream review) – also helping is being one-third of supergroup boygenius, with fellow COVID stars (and “Favor” back-up singers) Phoebe Bridgers and fellow Newport Folk ’21 performer Lucy Dacus (see below) – and now returns to Newport Folk (QRO photos at Newport Folk ’16).

Julien Baker
   

To Be Announced, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

 

Chris Thile, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

While probably still best known as the frontman for Americana greats The Punch Brothers (QRO photos), Chris Thile (QRO photos) is also the host of Live From Here (QRO live review) – formerly known as Praire Home Companion – and even a MarArthur Fellow. He comes back to Newport Folk (QRO photos as part of a group at Newport Folk ’18).

Chris Thile
   

Early James, 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM

Last year was going to be a big year for Dan Auerbach find Early James, who was gonna tour with all sorts, as well as playing Newport Folk. At least the Alabama blues musician will get to Newport Folk this year.

Early James
   
   
Quad Stage  

Lake Street Dive, 5:40 PM – 7:00 PM

After meeting at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music (QRO photos at a Boston festival), jazz-soul outfit Lake Street Dive (QRO photos outdoors) have been bringing pop-soul to modern times. They come to back to Newport Folk Festival (QRO photos at a festival) behind this year’s Obviously (QRO review).

Lake Street Dive
   

Watchhouse, 4:10 PM – 5:10 PM

Formerly known as Mandolin Orange (QRO photos at a festival), Chapel Hill’s married couple Watchhouse play beautiful Americana music that yes, includes the mandolin (QRO photos), changing their name only earlier this year. They return to Newport Folk after being supposed to play last year’s.

Mandolin Orange
   

Jonathan Russell, 2:40 PM – 3:35 PM

The Head and The Heart’s singer/guitarist Jonathan Russell does a special solo show at Newport Folk.

Jonathan Russell

   

Katie Pruitt, July 28th

Nashville’s Katie Pruitt (QRO photos at a festival) has been turning heads with her Americana alt-country, like on last year’s debut full-length, Expectations, from legendary independent label Rounder Records.

 

Also:

Jake Blount, 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM

Katie Pruitt

 

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