DAY TWO RECAP: 2011 Newport Folk Festival

The Head and The Heart - Photo by Richard Kluver, grass clippings blog

As if Day One wasn’t enough for one weekend, Day Two at the Newport Folk Festival was another hot day, yet loaded with music that gave festivarians the chills as history unfolded before their eyes.

The day kicked off with strong acts on all three stages that you didn’t want to miss, but had to (though NPR has your back). Rhode Island’s own Brown Bird was probably the biggest surprise for me at the entire festival. Though the photo on the band’s website is slightly scary (at least for those traditional folk fans) and front man David Lamb blends well with the stage hands, there are few duets that are able to deliver the stage presence that these guys did. Ohh, and they aren’t scary in the daylight at all. They were pretty freaking nice actually. (I just got an advance copy of the bands forthcoming album, Salt for Salt, which is out in October. These guys are on their way.)

Meanwhile, after scoring a slot on the Quad stage as a contest winner at last year’s festival, David Wax Museum earned their return and maintained a huge crowd from the main Fort Stage on Sunday AM (more to come on these guys based on an interview – stay tuned).

The young ladies from Vermont that make up Mountain Man were tons of fun to watch. With minimal musical accompaniment, their mountain voices closed a set, which included some of the best yodeling I’ve ever heard, by leading the audience in singing an old gospel song in row-row-row-the-boat-around-style.

With new team members Adam Matta and multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins, Carolina Chocolate Drops were better than ever. Trampled by Turtles maintained mind-boggling speed, intensity and crowd size throughout their set.

The festival had few hours to top the menu of options at Fort Adams between 3:00PM and 4:00PM when Chris Thile and Michael Daves played on the Harbor Stage and Justin Townes Earle played on the Quad Stage (ohh and Amos Lee was also playing on the Fort Stage). Thile and Daves drew a lively crowd of young and old that was begging for more and more. JTE, who wasn’t able to make the festival last year after slashing his hand open, played with a full band and was a festival favorite (despite ragging on Brooklyn).

There was no performance that topped the crowd’s longing for songs of emotion and energy like The Head and the Heart (though Delta Spirit came close). The Seattleites, even with a couple technical difficulties, had the crowd screaming (literally) for more. Like Edward Sharpe’s performance in 2010, the crowd at the Harbor Stage was busting at the seams with the Newport Fire Marshall just giving up on his mission to keep the aisles clear of dancers.

A much needed calm descended over the Harbor Stage with the start of The Civil Wars. These guys are so polished and such professional entertainers that it’s hard to look away. They are perfection on all levels and keep to the folk tradition of a set of sad songs that everyone loves. Meanwhile, M.Ward played a memorable set on the Quad Stage (even if NPR didn’t pick it up).

The day closed with folk goddess Emmylou Harris, who was joined on stage by Pete Seeger, David Wax, The Civil Wars and others for performances of 60’s folk favorites “Turn! Turn! Turn!’’ and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”.

Here are a few shots from the day. Saturday’s recap is below. Stay tuned for a couple interview recaps, MANY more photos, videos and some closing thoughts.

Other great recaps are here: Providence Journal, Boston Globe.

All photos by Richard Kluver of the grass clipping blog. All rights reserved.

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All photos by Richard Kluver of the grass clipping blog. All rights reserved.