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Stef’s Survival Guide: Top 10 Dos and Don’ts of Newport Folk Fest

July 22, 2014

Beck headlining at Newport Folk Festival 2013

Our favorite festival of the year is only three days away, and it seems appropriate for us to share our wisdom before a new class of NFFers sets sail to shiny Newport Folk Fest 2014.

In other words, don’t learn from your mistakes. Learn from ours.

1) Don’t wear shoes you don’t want getting muddy.
If there’s a splash of rain, you’ll be sorry you wore those super-cute espadrilles, ladies. And guys, you’ll be sorry you wore … whatever the equivalent is for men.

2) Do eat the lobster rolls.
Because, duh.

3) Don’t waste any time drinking in the specified beer area.
Seriously. Don’t. Unless it’s legitimately within the space of time in which absolutely no acts of interest to you are playing. But even then, technically you should also probably check out those acts too, because you may grow to love them or discover something new. Instead…

4) Do go to Smokehouse in downtown Newport.
Sit outside in the open patio, and drink X amount of their Cojito mason jar cocktails. (And do share with us any of your own personal faves that we should be trying out)

5) Do leave 10 minutes early at night to beat some of the crowd to the ferry line if you…
a) don’t have your own wheels and b) don’t enjoy standing for a really long time. In a line.

6) Don’t underestimate the power of the “unexpected afternoon thunder storm.”
Read as: bring a poncho.

7) Do bring your fine straw hat.
Or at least one of them. If ever there was a place where fashion and function could intermingle in a way that would prevent you from getting an awkward sunglass sunburn, this is it.

8) Don’t trim your beard or hide your tattoos.
This ain’t the place for it.

9) Do arrive early enough before the start of the fest each day to set up space near the main stage. It fills up fast. Like, really fast. Case in point: if you think I’m gonna let anybody get between me and my front row view of Ryan Adams or Jack White, you cray. Now multiply me by 500. Get there early.

10) Don’t walk around spreading rumors that Neil Young will be making a cameo in the final act’s slot on Sunday.
Even though you guys, I swear THIS year he really will. I feel it.

Carolina Video: Mipso, Mandolin Orange and Shovels & Rope

July 18, 2014


Three Carolina bands (one South, two North) will be up north of the Mason Dixon very soon and each of them recently released new videos worth a watch.

Mipso will play the first ever grass clippings garden session on Wednesday, July 23rd at 8:30 PM, which you can stream live from anywhere in the world on Concert Window. Our friends at The Bluegrass Situation recently shot this video of the band singing “A Couple Acres Greener,” the great opening track of the band’s debut album. Mipso also performs at Rockwood on Friday, June 25th.


Mandolin Orange - Photo by Briana Brough

Mandolin Orange – Photo by Briana Brough

Mandolin Orange, which makes its Newport Folk Festival debut on Friday, July 25th, recently premiered a new track called “Little Worlds,” which was filmed a in the cowboy boot room at a vintage shop in downtown Hillsborough, NC.


Shovels & Rope - Photo by Molly Hayes

Shovels & Rope – Photo by Molly Hayes

Shovels & Rope returns to Newport on Saturday, July 26th in advance of the band’s forthcoming album, Swimin’ Time, which comes out August 28th and follows its breakthrough album, O Be Joyful.  The band released a video for “The Devil Is All Around,” one song off the new album, in June. Also, last week Paste released “Cavalier” – a favorite off of O Be Joyful.

60 Years of Skaggs: Happy Birthday, Ricky!

July 18, 2014
Ricky Skaggs

Ricky Skaggs

Even though I was born in Louisville and raised in Richmond, it wasn’t until fifteen years ago when I was a freshman at the University of Alabama that saw my first bluegrass show – Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. Fifteen years later, here I am pretending like I’m a legit authority on bluegrass and Americana music (not just an obsessive fan).

Not only is Skaggs a badass, he was my gateway to so much amazing music. This blog wouldn’t exist if I didn’t see him that day. I wouldn’t play the mandolin if it wasn’t for him.

Today, on Skaggs’ 60th birthday, I thought I’d throwback to some of my favorite Skaggs songs, duets and cameos over the years. We write about so much skinny jeans hipster stuff around here and not enough about bluegrass gods like this one. HBD, Ricky!

Read more…

Johnny Cash – Newport 1964

July 17, 2014

Haas Kowert Tice’s Adventurous Debut

July 16, 2014
Brittany Haas, Paul Kowert and Jordan Tice - photo by Justin Camerer

Brittany Haas, Paul Kowert and Jordan Tice – photo by Justin Camerer

Bela Fleck’s “The Over Grown Waltz,” Edgar Meyer’s “Sliding Down,” Mark O’Connor’s “Johnny Appleseed” and Chris Thile’s “Raining at Sunset” – these are the kinds of memorable modern instrumental tunes that have left the biggest mark on me over the years. Songs like these – songs that exude adventure and tell stories without words – are hard to come by in the era of the broken-hearted whiteboy folk songs that sound kind of like bluegrass, explore four awesome chords (with a capo) and feature the occasional banjo (Note: yes, we sometimes like and cover that stuff too, but it’s more of a flavor of the week).

This week, Haas Kowert Tice, a trio of now grown up music prodigies including fiddler Brittany Haas (Crooked Still), bassist Paul Kowert (Punch Brothers), and guitarist Jordan Tice (Tony Trischka), have just released their debut, you got this (Amazon & Spotify) – an album I’ve been waiting for since first seeing the trio at the Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash last September. While each member of the band continues to purse other projects, the trio formed as an outlet for their ideas after years of improvisational jams and playing together at festivals and camps. Only time will tell, but the album includes at least three tracks that could fall in the list above a few years from now. “Tell Me Watcha Gonna Do Now,” which closes the album, is my favorite instrumental song since the Goat Rodeo Sessions were released a couple years ago. It’s the ultimate comeback scene score. “Grandpa’s Cheesebarn” and “El Camino” each brilliantly showcase the band’s meshing of influences, winding compositions and phenomenal instrumentation.

Check out a few tracks below. You can catch the trio at Joe’s Pub on Tuesday, July 29th or another stop on their tour.

Bob Dylan & Joan Baez – Newport 1963

July 15, 2014

Rochester Harpist Mikaela Davis Plays Brooklyn’s Cameo Gallery August 1st

July 14, 2014
Mikaela Davis

Mikaela Davis

Mikaela Davis, the Rochester-based twenty-one-year-old orchestra-turned-pop-harpist whose epic YouTube vids of songs like Sufjan’s “Casimir Pulaski Day” will make you wonder why you haven’t seen her yet, is heading to Brooklyn’s Cameo Gallery on Friday, August 1st. Davis recently released a new single, “Out There Alone,” from her forthcoming new album. Check it out below. This is different. This is good.


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