2012 Newport Folk Festival Recap: Part 2

Words by Andre and Kevin

Saturday may have brought the rain - and oh boy did it rain - but it also brought stellar performances from artists old and new alike.

Sunday proved to be no different, with acts ranging from the raucous rock of Rhode Island's own Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Decisions to the scorching guitar blues of Gary Clark, Jr.. There was pop-folk aplenty with bands like  Trampled By Turtles and The Head And The Heart taking over the main stage, and if you were willing to go off the beaten path a little bit you could catch acts like Of Monsters And Men, traditional sets from The Kossoy Sisters, Spider John Koerner, or a blistering performance by ex-Rage Against The Machiner Tom Morello. It was, as everyday at the Newport Folk Festival is, a celebration of music writ large.

The festival ended, of course, with lingering rain clouds as Jackson Browne brought his friends Dawes, Sara Watkins, Jonathan Wilson and Tom Morello (whose set Browne hat sat in on to sing "This Land Is Your Land") out to end an already hit heavy set by Browne. Launching into an explosive cover of Warren Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns and Money", the musicians abandoned any sense of "folk" that may have been lingering at Fort Adams, steering directly into the land of rawk, complete with traded guitar solos, Hendrixian guitar moves by Morello and a fist pumping, slightly waterlogged crowd that refused to let the moment die. 

And then it was over.

The sun came out and, slightly damp but no worse for the wear, we all filed out of Fort Adams for the final time of the weekend, leaving the best music festival in America behind us all until we inevitably return for more next year.

Taxes, death and NEWPORT - those are three things you can count most on in life. One will take your hard earned money. One will take your hard earned breath forever. But the Newport Folk Festival...for a small fee...that'll fill you up with life, love and most of all MUSIC that will last a lifetime. 

Below you can find some of our highlights from Sunday's performances, and here is a link to Saturday's highlights. But don't take our word for it. Over at NPR.org they've kindly archived almost every performance from this stellar weekend of music for you to relive the experience.

We'll see you next year Newport. As always, thanks for the memories.


The Entire ChunkyGlasses Crew


Sleepy Man Banjo Boys

Today they took the big stage...and owned it. It's hard to comprehend that at age 10, banjo player Jonny Mizzone can hold his own against artists who have been playing four times the amount of time he has been alive, but it's true. Even more amazing is that brothers Robbie (12, fiddle) and Tommy (14, guitar) are each masters of their instruments in equal measure. These kids are going to mature into legends and it is simply a wonder that we'll get to see their progression every step along the way. 

Sara Watkins

She's the reigning champion for sit-ins two years running now, but this early morning set was all about Watkins. Playing songs from her most recent release Sun Midnight Sun with a few choice "oldies' thrown in there for good measure, Watkins demonstrated with ease and grace why she is considered to be one of the most capabable and talented musicians working today. And possibly the cutest. Just saying. 

Jonathan Wilson

Somewhere up in Laurel Canyon a few years ago, a hole that led straigt to the grooviest of 70's rock opened up and out popped Jonathan Wilson. While there is not reason to believe that that is actually TRUE, Wilson's set at Newport gave us no reason to believe that it wasn't either. Fresh off a tour supporting Tom Petty, Wilson and his band dug deep into the roots of rock and roll and teamed it up with a sunny psychedlic sound that harkened back to a time when the Greivous Angel roamed a land that was best viewed from the door of your van - which is to say, it was far out, man. 

Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires

Hate to tell ya Newport, but Charles Bradley just knocked all of yalls up. One part James Brown, one part universal soul machine, Bradley never EVER holds back, and his perfomance at Newport this year may have just broken new ground. Delivering the knockout set of the entire weekend, Bradley shimmied, howled and thrusted his way into the hearts of the assembled crowd, and then when it was all over walked down the front row offering hugs to anyone who wanted to give a little bit of his love back. Truly one of the best performances from one of the best musicians out there today.

There's only one Charles Bradley, and this is him. 

There's only one Charles Bradley, and this is him. 

New Multitudes

What's better than previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics? A supergroup made up of Jay Farrarr, Jim James, Will Johnson and Anders Parker to deliver the songs to the masses. At the end of the day the group comes off sounding like a supercharged Son Volt, but when was that ever a bad thing? Oh right. NEVER. 


We've talked about tUnE-yArDs, aka Merril Garbus, so much that you'd think we would run out of things to say by now. But then she goes and drops a performance like THIS on us and we're back to cranking up the PRAISE machine to 11! Delivering the second most memorable set of the weekend, Merrill and her bandmates looped and pounded their way through songs off last years whokill, whipping the HUGE crowd at the tiny Harbor Stage tent into bouncing, dancy fury. If it's true that music is a sort of magic, then tUnE-yArDs is tapped directly into the source. It took a while for everyone to catch on, but in the end THIS is the music that is going to take over the world.


Folk legend? Cult hero? All of the above? We only caught a few songs of this pyschedelic soul singers set, but it was one of the most chill bump inducing performances of the weekend. At 70 years of age, Rodriguez's voice isnt' quite what it used to be, but that youthful cosmic optimism has been replaced by a wisened, authoritative reflection of the world around him. Between songs, the singer/songwriter offered up life lessons to the hundred or so people lucky enought to squeeze into the museum stage. "You know what the problem with free love is?" he asked with a glint in his eye. "It's too expensive." Sage advice indeed, and just one of the many, many reasons why you should get out to see Rodriguez as he tours the country this fall. 

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Swedes are taking over. At least it would seem that way judging from the performance that Kristian Matsson delivered to yet another completly packed Harbor Stage tent. Hailed as the next Dylan, Mattson proved that all you need is one man, a guitar and some truth to make something truly special. Possibly one of most appropriatley folky performances of the festival, and also one of the best. 


All photos by Kevin Hill (kevin@chunkyglasses.com)

Set 2 

All photos by Andre Radloff(andre@chunkyglasses.com)