Graphics by Allegra Rosenberg
Each year, the chatter surrounding Newport Folk Festival seems to grow exponentially, and 2015 is no different. With more traditional folk acts now sandwiched between an ever expanding number of artists from near-folk genres, the event now seems to have something for (almost) everyone. This festival prides itself on selecting talent based on real curation rather than album cycles, and while that may not have held quite as true this year, there’s no denying that every act on this lineup is worth watching. I would highly suggest hopping around to different stages as much as possible, but the acts below, in particular, might be worth checking out in their entirety.
The Tallest Man on Earth
The last set I saw from Kristian Matsson at Newport was simple and mesmerizing — an intimate, solo performance that perfectly captured just how emotive his music can be. For this year, though, I think I’m looking forward to a bit of a change. Since he’ll inevitably be performing music from his new album, Dark Bird is Home, the fuller, more complex songs will need a little more help on stage.
Brandi Carlile will win you over instantly. Between her beautiful vocals and storyteller appeal, it’s almost impossible not to be drawn into her world. She always seems to have an element of unneeded humility that makes her seem more human and her music seem more genuine.
Courtney Barnett may be slightly too irreverent for Newport Folk, but I think that’s why I’m particularly excited to see her perform. With a delivery that somehow combines deadpan and rocking hard, she’s a force to be reckoned with, and I’m hoping the crowd in Rhode Island feels the same.
You should see Roger Waters because he’s Roger Waters…not sure what else to say here.
I love the many faces of Sufjan Stevens, but if we’re being completely honest, I’ve always had a soft spot for his earlier folk-drenched tracks — like those from the Seven Swans days of yore. I’m equally excited to see him perform tracks from his masterpiece of a new album, but my fingers are crossed for a few older numbers I haven’t heard live before.
Hozier’s Newport performance in 2014 included a full gospel choir for “Work Song”. If he can pull off something even half that powerful, this set will be well worth attending.
Friday July 24
12:25 PM — Bahamas — Quad Stage
1:10 PM — Angel Olsen — Harbor Stage
1:35 PM — Leon Bridges — Quad Stage
2:30 PM — The Lone Bellow — Fort Stage
3:45 PM — Strand of Oaks — Harbor Stage
4:00 PM — The Tallest Man on Earth — Fort Stage
5:05 PM — Heartless Bastards — Harbor Stage
5:30 PM — Unannounced/Roger Waters — Fort Stage
Saturday July 25
11:10 AM — Spirit Family Reunion — Quad Stage
12:10 PM — The Barr Brothers — Fort Stage
1:40 PM — Langhorne Slim — Quad Stage
2:35 PM — Jason Isbell — Fort Stage
2:55 PM — Courtney Barnett — Quad Stage
3:50 PM — Unannounced — Fort Stage
4:45 PM — Sufjan Stevens — Fort Stage
5:00 PM — Jose Gonzalez — Harbor Stage
5:40 PM — Brandi Carlile — Quad Stage
6:15 PM — The Decemberists — Fort Stage
Sunday July 26
11:00 AM — Christopher Paul Stelling — Harbor Stage
12:40 PM — Jon Batiste & Stay Human — Fort Stage
1:25 PM — Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats — Quad Stage
1:55 PM — Lord Huron — Fort Stage
2:45 PM — The Felice Brothers — Quad Stage
3:20 PM — First Aid Kit — Fort Stage
3:45 PM — Blake Mills — Harbor Stage
4:05 PM — Laura Marling — Quad Stage
4:45 PM — Hozier — Fort Stage
5:30 PM — Shakey Graves — Quad Stage
6:15 PM — ’65 Revisited — Fort Stage