A Place of Harmony | Newport Folk Festival

Imagine a music festival that is not massively packed and not obsessed with making as much money as possible. Seems impossible in 2012, but it’s not. The Newport Folk Festival is the last bastion of enjoyable music festivals in the United States. The crowd is courteous, the staff amenable and the stages accessible. You can bring a chair and a cooler without being subject to a full body cavity search. You can move between stages easily and enjoy the entire line-up if you wish. And the setting in Fort Adams in Newport offers a good setting to see live music and picturesque views of the harbor. Mix in some boozy fun in town and the weekend could be the best of summer.

MMJ’s Jim James performs at the Quad Stage.

Last year was my first time at Newport Folk Fest and we had an amazing time. I was shocked how much fun we had and how enjoyable the music was. The highlights were seeing Saturday headliner My Morning Jacket on the main stage and then seeing Jim James play on the smaller Quad stage inside the fort (as pictured above). Also entertaining was Charles Bradley, who’s record you should definitely own because the man is amazing. I saw Gary Clark Jr. play for the first time and I was blown away by his sound. Afterwards I witnessed a well-worn roadie guy congratulate Gary on his performance and declare it a “blistering set,” a compliment in which Gary seemed to very much enjoy. Not to be overlooked were Dawes, Deer Tick, First Aid Kit, Brown Bird and Jonny Corndawg, who alone were worth the drive to Rhode Island.

Newport is a funny town with a deeply engrained drinking culture that lends itself well to enjoyable summer music festivals. It’s a place of harmony where you can find people wearing blue blazers in earnest drinking Dark ‘N’ Stormys right along side wasted massholes in cargo shorts. Upon entering the city limits it seems as if everyone agrees to give up their differences and simply focus on getting shitfaced and loving life. Mix in an amazing music festival with thousands of indie music lovers and you have yourself a perfect place to be for a summer weekend.

Gary Clark Jr. backstage after a tremendous set.

Comments on “A Place of Harmony | Newport Folk Festival

    Sam on July 31, 2012 9:56 AM:

    My favorite place in the northeast…maybe in the world (compared, at least to where I’ve been.) Went a few years ago to the Wine Festival, but have never been for the Folk Festival. I’ve always thought about going. Perhaps next year. Great photos!

    caleb on July 31, 2012 10:42 AM:

    folk yes

    matt on July 31, 2012 11:05 AM:

    is that in Newport?

    King on July 31, 2012 12:26 PM:

    One of those photo subjects resembles actor Noah Wyle.

    Jeff on July 31, 2012 1:32 PM:

    An apt description: “wasted massholes in cargo shorts”. Just need more pictures.

    PM on July 31, 2012 1:57 PM:

    Go to The Mooring and get a Bag of Doughnuts. Clamcakes on steroids.

    L on August 1, 2012 12:11 PM:

    I went to prep school in Newport; it is a great place to be for four years. I had friends that worked at the folk and jazz festivals and would get us tickets; they were always great shows. I’m from the great state of Massachusetts but Newport beats the Cape for summer fun and nothing compares to Del’s in the summer!

    CRF on August 2, 2012 2:08 PM:

    MW, straws are for tourists. Next time, sip your Del’s straight from the cup.

    mat on August 2, 2012 2:57 PM:

    i do enjoy the folkness

    mike on August 3, 2012 8:52 AM:

    By the list of bands you saw it seems we were at two different festivals. i missed MMJ but was happy to see Yim Yames play with New Multitudes Sunday… Spirit Family Reunion, Honeyhoney and Alabama Shakes all blew me away and Frank Fairfield was like watching a documentary on american music, very cool to see. So much talent. This was my first trip to Newport and I know now it wont be my last.

    I was up in Montreal two weeks ago and had never seen as many Bachelorette parties in one night before then, but Newport was a close rival. Everyone is just looking for a party and Newport does not disappoint

    Matt on August 6, 2012 5:16 PM:


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