Newport Folk Festival 2010: Day 2
Sunday, August 1, 2010: 10:30pm
We return to the gates where we were 24 hours earlier. What Cheer? Brigade is entertaining the line that extends to the parking lot. Those with coolers and those without divide once again. Newport Folk Festival, Take 2.
We made camp relatively close to where we did yesterday. Which is pretty lucky considering that the crowd grew to probably twice the size of Saturday’s crowd. But we weren’t starting our day at the Fort Stage today. We were heading over to the Quad to see Magic Hat Brewing Company’s contest winners The David Wax Museum.
Before their set began, there were about 50 extra seats and plenty of standing room. By the end, all those seats were taken and the crowd extended far out into the grassy quad. That’s how good The David Wax Museum’s performance was. Their self-proclaimed Mexi-centric folk music lured a crowd that was looking for something a little different. And those that came got to see an extra special show. About three-quarters into their set, they went completely acoustic and performed 2 songs in the center aisle; “Let Me Rest,” a serene tune followed by “Unfruitful,” an absolute foot stomper and dance number. If they didn’t have the crowd won over by their songs plugged in, they definitely did now. I hadn’t heard a crowd cheer that loud yet that weekend, and the David Wax Museum deserved every bit of it. Their performance amongst the attendees was one of my top 3 greatest things that I’ve seen at the Newport Folk Festival. And, lucky enough for WERW, The David Wax Museum let us talk to them a little bit after their stunning performance.
After this incredible way to kick off a Sunday afternoon, we went back to the Fort Stage to catch some Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. I told you Newport goes all out with their female vocalists right? I mean, they go all out with EVERYTHING, but damn, their singers this year were unbelievable. Sharon Jones can perform, let me tell you. From the throwback introduction done by the announcer-esque guitarist to the dance breakdown by Miss Sharon Jones herself, it was high-energy all the way through. It never once faded. And for that I hold a high respect for her and the Dap-Kings. Much like Nneka’s set on Saturday, it felt like it ended too soon after it began. But who am I to complain when the Avett Brothers were on the stage next.
Truly one of my favorite bands, The Avett Brothers came out on stage opening with “Tin Man” off of their album I and Love and You, and the crowd was psyched. I forgot to mention, Sunday also brought the addition of a “standing only” section in front of the stage, which was a good choice because they were not going to be able to stand all those people anywhere else. I got about three songs in before having to go and talk with the David Wax Museum. But, the great thing about this is that I also got to hear three songs from Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three. My inner battle of which artist I had to see was solved! Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three were fabulous. They have such a distinctive sound and style; I would love to see them play a full set. At least they played “Claude Jones,” that was the one song I was hoping to hear.
After meeting with the David Wax Museum, I went down to meet my fellow festival patrons at the very crowded Harbor Stage to see The Felice Brothers. Another one of my favorite bands, The Felice Brothers are incredible every time I see them. This was no exception. They are a high-energy band that gets the crowd moving and singing along, they even had people storm the center aisle to dance and clap to “Love Me Tenderly.” They faked the crowd out about three times before actually ending their set with “Helen Fry.” We remained at the Harbor Stage and grabbed some hard-to-find chairs for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
The Harbor Stage was definitely NOT the place Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros should have been playing. People filled up the aisles up to the barricades and spanned back out almost to the entrance of the festival. So many people were there that they had to delay the show in order to clear a “fire lane,” so to speak. But my god, when they started playing, it was unbelievable. Alex Ebert’s messiah-ish appearance mixed with his up-close and personal interactions made for a memorable experience for the Newport crowd. And yeah, that clap intro to “40 Day Dream” was just as cool as I thought I would be. There is no better way to send off the crowd back to the main stage with “Om Nashi Me” however. It was one of those moments where I remembered again how amazing it was to be one of the folk this year.
I was a little late getting back to the Fort Stage for Levon Helm’s Ramble on the Road because of a minor detour. What Cheer? Brigade, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Elvis Perkins in Dearland led a huge crowd of people from the Quad back to the entrance of the festival. I, naturally, had to stay and witness this absolutely incredible collaboration before I got my ramble on.
Levon Helm really got a great group of musicians together for this. Like John Prine, he is a legend among the folk, and overall music, community. He is still incredibly personable and a character. At one point, he was straight up grinding on his mandolin. Plus, getting to hear “The Weight” live featuring Richie Havens and Glen Hansard from the Swell Season was a treat. But it didn’t just end there. One of the most exciting things about the festival is the traditional sing-along. Levon Helm and many of the artists at the festival gathered on stage to perform the classic “I Shall Be Released.” And as the sun went down, the mass exodus of Fort Adams begun and the Newport Folk Festival came to a close. And now, we can only bask in the remarkable memories of this year and wait to see what next year will bring. Thank you to the production crew, artists and sponsors for making my summer complete.