Newport Folk Fest has left the end of July feeling full. We got to hear some great acts like My Morning Jacket, Remi Wolf, and The Ballroom Thieves. As we are still processing what all went down, we were left speechless. Fans had come from all over the globe to witness this sacred festival play out. Being central to its non-profit roots, this particular festival should be on everyone’s schedule—and here’s why!
Newport Folk Festival has been around for quite some time, starting its magical start in 1959—a few years after the Newport Jazz Festival made its debut in 1954. Ever since, there have been over hundreds of acts big and small appearing in Rhode Island each summer. After almost 80 years of working around the clock, acts like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Dolly Parton, Hozier, and Lana Del Rey have all blessed their stages.
The whole weekend felt like a home away from home. Right down to the opening of the gates each morning, people passed around ice to help cool down, had a food trading post that served as fare for carpools, and helped with directions even on bikes. Making the overall experience something special that can be renewed each year. As laid back as it was, it was a good weekend to lean in and learn more about what makes community… community.
Sustainability was a main focus outside of the main topic of music. The Clean Water Action Organization had set up free reusable water stations with the promise of wasting less plastic and metal during the whole weekend. Festival goers were encouraged to bring empty water bottles to help balance out bottle usage. A percentage of their beer and wine sales had gone back to the CWA crew. This process of supporting what makes up a huge percentage of Rhode Island (WATERR!) hadn’t gone unnoticed along with the compost and recycling efforts. Also, local farmers and Farm Fresh Rhode Island, a local food service, had sustained the food vendors with ingredients they needed the whole weekend.
The Main Acts
Going onto the music, the whole weekend was filled to the brim with songwriters, artists, musicians, bands, and musical geniuses. Having FIVE different stages and a few pop-up areas, there was no shortage of talent. The biggest stage called the Fort Stage, had overlooked the local marina filled with smaller boats, kayaks, and paddle-boarders who listened in. This housed our queen Maggie Rogers, Jon Batiste, and Lana Del Rey.
Instead of all standing room (or General Admission), you were allowed to bring beach chairs and blankets to this stage. People lent extra blankets and umbrellas when the sun was beating down, especially on Friday as it reached a high of 93 degrees. Kids under a certain age could come free and that just added to the family feel that we’ve been missing.
The smaller stages like the Harbor and Quad were deeply placed inside the fort with seats and coverage from the sun. We got to see Alice Phoebe Lou, Remi Wolf, and Gregory Alan Isakov there. Greeting each set with so much love, no artist playing took it for granted that they were there. It had been the general consensus that it was a privilege to be there from both artists and the festival goers.
A few artists had to step back like Noah Kahan who had been dealing with a sickness and was put on vocal rest. In his place, the iconic James Taylor filled in who was no stranger to being a part of the ‘Fort Family’. The same goes for M. Ward and Del Water Gap who also stepped in last minute for other artists. Noting these switch-outs just goes to show how supported this event has become.
The festival was strong and creative in how they fixed problems. We had no idea what was happening behind the scenes in making this whole weekend go as smoothly and as planned as it did. By providing updates on all socials and the official Newport Folk Fest App, it was easy to get an inside scoop.
Our Favorite Moments
During Maggie Rogers’ set on Friday, young fans dressed up as her in her iconic red jumpsuit. Two young girls in specific were cheering on Maggie held up high by their parents. The security saw them sitting on the barricade and immediately brought the side stage for Maggie’s set. This was the cutest to see and left a mark on us as the day came to an end.
Jon Batiste also was a great act. From bringing up his friends who helped capture the Native American spirit and an essence-based song he is releasing next called ‘Rain Dance’ to him actively making ribs on stage to share with the crowd. He brought out every instrument known to man and kept the energy soaring even after his allotted time. Little moments like these made the whole weekend feel full.
Time To Wrap It Up!
Overall the whole weekend felt like one big dream. Even though we felt overwhelmed by so many beautifully talented people, the biggest message we are taking away is that every festival is an extension of family. We gather in places like these to be around like-minded people–no matter where in the world. Despite the contrasting ideals we may hold, we leave them back at the gates and sit in for a day filled with words that have meant a great deal to us.
Newport Folk Festival is an amazing example of doing things right. Crafting an experience that is fan-focused and accessible for all (down to the fine print) is no small task. We are over the moon to have been present and to have reported back to you with these sweet sweet acts.
We had a blast at Newport Folk Festival this past weekend! What moments were your favorite we covered? Is there an artist that should play Newport Folk Festival? What festival should we cover next at The Honey POP?
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Music & Editoral Photographer | #1 Fan of Dogs in Sweaters