Newport Folk Festival 2022 flourishes with memorable sit-ins


Lucius with Brandi Carlile admiring the scenery, shortly before Joni Jams’ special set (photo by Dean Budnick)


More than 60 years after its founding in 1959, the Newport Folk Festival continues to entertain and inspire. The festival wrapped up last night in Newport, RI’s Fort Adams State Park, after a weekend that featured artists in rare raw form, as well as collaborations between legendary musicians and new voices. powerful.

Rick Mitarotonda of Goose (Photo by Dean Budnick)

Friday’s lineup immediately set the bar high for the waterfront site. The festival’s first-ever John Prine Songwriter Fellowship recipient, Leith Ross, opened the doors with heartfelt sonic explorations of family , love and heartbreak. They were followed by performances by Arooj Aftab, Goose, Taj Mahal and collaborations such as Dinosaur Jr. with Courtney Barnett, My Bluegrass Heart all-stars by Béla Fleck (who hosted Noam Pikelny for a track), an incredible performance of The Silk Road Ensemble with Rhiannon Giddens, and more. Goose made his NFF debut and the band members stayed put throughout the weekend. The National also hosted a wide array of guests on their Friday set, with Cassandra Jenkins on “I Need My Girl”, Bonny Light Horseman’s Anaïs Mitchell on “Rylan”, Hannah Georgas on “I am Easy to Find” and Adia Victoria on their 2007 hit “Fake Empire”. For the last song of their set, they welcomed all their guests on stage for “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”.

Matt Berninger, the National (photo by Caroline Budnick)
J. Mascis, Dinosaur Jr. (photo by Dean Budnick)
Rhiannon Gidden with The Silk Road Ensemble (photo by Dean Budnick)

Saturday offered another stunning array of sonic delights, despite the COVID-19 intervention to prevent the appearance of Bonny Light Horseman, who was due to play Wilco and Billy Bragg’s album. Mermaid Avenue. The festival has cleverly curated a special set featuring a number of musicians already on site, who, as executive producer Jay Sweet explained, have volunteered their time to support the larger cause. Mitchell opened Clusterfolk with a performance of Don Henley’s ‘The End of the Innocence’, before Natalie Merchant performed ‘Carnival’ and ‘Kind and Generous’, Lukas Nelson covered Neil Young and Craig’s ‘Tell Me Why’ Finn closed the impromptu set with a cover of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” by Nick Lowe.

The day also saw a performance by Lucius with special guests including Rick Mitarotonda and Peter Anspach of Celisse and Goose on “Strawberry Letter #23”.

Lucius and his friends (photo by Dean Budnick)

The Bleachers’ set on Saturday included a soaring rendition of The National’s “Bloodbuzz Ohio” from their 2010 LP high violet. During the Bleachers song, frontman Jack Antonoff hosted Clairo and Lucy Dacus, who both had their own sets earlier that day; they were also joined by Mitarotonda on guitar. Notably, all three also appeared with Antonoff on his Bonnaroo super jam this year.

Bleachers (photo by Dean Budnick)

Another blessing of a Saturday performance was The Black Opry Revue, where a variety of artists shared a wide range of prowess in both their playing and songwriting: Chris Pierce’s blues inclinations, Buffalo’s picks Nichols, the tender anecdotes of Leon Timbo, the sensibility of Autumn Nicholas, the fire of Derek Campbell, Brandon Campbell of The Kentucky Gentlemen and soulful Joy Oladokun all shone alike.

The Black Opry Revue finale (photo by Dean Budnick)

Arguably the biggest highlight of the day was “American Tune Review” by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, a tribute to Paul Simon, during which Simon himself finally appeared. Before Simon joined Rateliff and his ensemble and special guests including Courtney Marie Andrews, Marcus Mumford, Lee Fields, Adia Victoria, The Silk Road Ensemble, Lukas Nelson, and others explored his iconic discography until he joins them for “Graceland”, “American Tune”. with Rhiannon Giddens, then a massive band singing along to “The Boxer”. The set ended with a solo acoustic version of “The Sound of Silence”.

Paul (photo by Dean Budnick)

Early Sunday, Sylvan Esso surprised fans with a performance of their new album, No rules Sandy, marking the official launch of the next chapter for Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn. Meath offered:[it] feels like who we really are. It looks like us. We’re not trying to fit into the mold, we’re just happy to be ourselves. The day before, the duo presented their new label Psychic Hotline, which featured numerous collaborations. Temperatures peaked in the 80s, but performers were undeterred, with notable sets from Anais Mitchell, Blake Mills, Oladokun, Maren Morris and more. The Roots responded to the incredible heat with unparalleled energy.

Maren Morris (photo by Dean Budnick)

Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith’s set was originally planned for his wife, Mandy Moore, who has stayed home for health reasons as the couple are expecting their second child in a few months. Audiences poured out of the tent as he opened solo with “The Game” and moved on to fan favorite “Mr. Los Angeles.” Members of Goose then joined him for “Comes in Waves,” recreating some of the magic of Fred at 2021. the Festival at the LOCKIN’ Farm, in Arrington, Va (Goldsmith had also sat with Goose the night before for covers of “Atlantic City” and “Don’t Do It” at an official aftershow at the Newport Blues Cafe). A few fans then joined in for a take of Dawes’ beloved song “Things Happen,” harmonizing line by line. Towards the end of the set, Blake Mills and Goldsmith swapped tracks as Mills (and Mitarotonda) joined Goldsmith for “Roll With the Punches”, after which Goldsmith covered Mills’ “Hey Lover”. Softly, Goldsmith closed his set with a tribute to his wife by covering his song “Save a Little for Yourself”, backed by the Newport Children’s Choir, which had originally been planned for his performance.

Taylor Goldsmith and her improvised group (photo by Dean Budnick)

Like the evening before, there was a particular and emblematic performance on Sunday. Joni Mitchell, under the loving care of Brandi Carlile, returned to the stage for her first full set before the turn of the millennium. The performance also marked his first return to the Newport Folk Festival in 53 years. The two recreated their shared, secret “Joni Jams,” which took place over the years at the artist’s Los Angeles home. They were joined on stage by Marcus Mumford, Taylor Goldsmith, Wynonna Judd, Lucius, Allison Russell, Blake Mills, Celisse and many more.

Joni (photo by Dean Budnick)

The show opened with “Carey”, which saw Mitchell add his signature vocals to the number that originally appeared on the estimated Blue album. Next, Goldsmith helped out on “Come in From the Cold” before Celisse took the stage and lends her talent on one of Mitchell’s biggest hits, “Help Me.” Throughout the set, the Blue the singer-songwriter shared stories with the audience, reflecting on his life. She also took up the guitar, stunning many audience members who thought she couldn’t after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015. Other highlights from the set included “Summertime,” “Both Sides Now,” and are close to “The Circle Game”.


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