2012’s Newport Folk Festival is now a thing of the past, and as expected the weekend ended up being yet another glorious celebration of music - albeit a slightly soggy one.
For fifty three years now, the Newport Folk Festival has been, and continues to be, the greatest American music festival in existence. Sure, it has evolved, and continues to evolve, beyond its “strictly folk” beginnings – that ship sailed in 1965 the moment Dylan plugged in – but it is that spirit of exploration, that willingness to take risks, that makes this annual weekend by the bay what it is.
While other festivals try to include practically every band in existence, the organizers of the Newport Folk Festival picks acts that embody the spirit of the fest. Each artist is complementary in some way to the others, which is a good thing because you’re lucky if you can make it through even one set with out a sit-in, or multiple sit-ins, by artists at the fest that weekend.
While other festivals seek to grow into the biggest MEGA FESTIVAL that they possibly can (looking at you Coachella /ACL), Newport welcomes a measly ten thousand people through its gates. Could they fit more? Sure. But by keeping attendance relatively low, it creates a familial vibe that permeates the festival grounds at Fort Adams. You’re just as likely to run into an old friend walking around as you are Jackson Browne eating some clams from a local vendor.
The Newport Folk Festival is the place where music consistently comes alive in a way that is utterly unique, and this year was no exception. Yes, the rain came – at times in buckets - shortening sets and boosting poncho sales through the roof. But nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the artists or fans in attendance.
We’ll be talking about the fest in greater detail on a special edition of our podcast out later this week, but here are some of the highlights of the fest as we saw it.
FRIDAY – ONE BIG HIGHLIGHT
(See all of our shots from Friday right HERE)
We’ve managed to miss this crew from North Carolina each and every time they have come through DC. NEVER AGAIN. Delivering a set that was a gripping blend of psychedlia, folk and foot stomping rock, it is absolutely inconceivable that a stage smaller than the one at the Fort could ever contain them. Biggest surprise of the weekend, and it was the first one out of the gate taboot!
And you thought that the Trapper boys were done taking over the world. In addition to announcing a smattering of Spring tour dates for 2012 they also dropped a brand new video for American Goldwing's "Taking It Easy To Long" on the world.
So take er easy, check out the goods below, and be sure to catch Blitzen Trapper out on tour when they're in your neck of the woods, which will be the best thing you do in 2012, we promise.
Blitzen Trapper 2012 Tour Dates
Mar 3 Arcata CA @ Humboldt Brews Tickets
Mar 5 Sacramento CA @ Harlow's Tickets
Mar 6 Visalia CA @ The Cellar Door Tickets
Mar 7 Los Angeles CA @ Troubadour Tickets
Mar 9 Santa Barbara CA @ SOhO Restaurant and Music Club Tickets
Mar 10 Long Beach CA @ Alex's Bar Tickets
Mar 11 Phoenix AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom Tickets
Mar 12 Tucson AZ @ Club Congress Tickets
Mar 19 Albuquerque NM @ Launchpad
Mar 20 Telluride CO @ Sheridan Opera House Tickets
Mar 22 Salt Lake City UT @ The State Room Tickets
Mar 23 Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Fest
I've heard a metric f@#@-ton of music this year. More bands than I can even remember have gone in one earhole and out the other. I'm sure in the process of checking out absolutely everything I could get my hands on a few bands might have slipped through the cracks, and to them I can only hope to catch up with them again at a later date. These next 10 bands are the ones that didn't slip through the cracks though. They're the groups/individuals who managed to make their magnificent noise rise up above the rest, and in the process make 2011 a quite exceptional year for music.
#10 Caveman - Coco Beware
The simple act of discovery can color one's opinion of a band, and it certainly has in Caveman's case...for everyone that's ever heard them apparently. I "discovered" Caveman opening up for The War on Drugs at The Red Palace here in DC earlier this year, and from that instant I was hooked. This record is drenched in moody, dreamscape inspired Radiohead-esque harmonies and sounds, and yet plays like something only Caveman could create. I know, I know, that sounds circular, but when a band this early in their existence can so well define who and what they are as a band, borrowing liberally from everything around them and somehow managing to put forth those collective influences as something better is the sign of a great artist. They've already got the attention of the music-nerd set (including NPR) and in 2012 they're the band to keep an eye on, because with a debut this good, sooner or later everyone is going to catch on to Caveman's fire. (Yes, I just wrote that)
Hope everyone enjoyed Ethan's picks yesterday. Today we move on to Andre's picks, which per his instructions are in no particular order. But, um, he may like Blitzen Trapper a little bit.
Fruit Bats - Tripper
I've never been addicted to crack, but there were times this year that I understood what it was like when you just needed that fix. Easily the album that got the most spins on the old player this year for me, or at least the album I would have gone on Maury Povich to tell the world that I've accepted that I have a problem.
Words: Michael Van Pelt, part-time lo-fi engineer, full-time Blitzen Trapper bassist.
Sinfully and deliciously bad. Well at least that album cover is, what with the sweaty locks and nappy chest hair rubbing on white polyester. This two record set ("as advertised on T.V.") is so damn good it makes you wonder why all rock n roll can't be this fun. Tommy James sold so many records it's not even funny, and sold them in a time when rock was becoming very serious and self-aware. Tommy didn't give two damns.
He had 23 gold singles.
He was friends with Hubert Humphrey.
He wrote infectious melodies on top of fat beats.
He is the sweaty, smiling, saccharine great-uncle of Pop Rock - and I love the guy.
Kevin here. HUGE thanks to Michael and all the guys in Blitzen Trapper for participating in this years Rocktober. Hilariously enough this record proper can only be found on 8-track, so in lieu of having our own copy to hand out (if anyone finds the vinyl, CALL US!) you're gonna have to do with the modern version of this sweaty classic that we've posted below.
Blitzen Trapper plays The Black Cat TONIGHT with Dawes. We'd better see your ass there.
Or if you prefer
The band Blitzen Trapper has made a pretty good career out of exploring the stranger side of Americana.
With their 2007 album Wild Mountain Nation, they gave us a weird sort of garage rock from outer space. On 2008’s Furr, they delved more into their folk leanings and gave the world a title track that may well be one of the best songs of the 21st century to date.
Not content with that creative and commercial success, in 2010 the band headed directly for the shire and produced a straight up 20-sided die rolling masterpiece of hobbit rock, otherwise known as Destroyer of the Void. A stylistically bold move, Void seemed to embrace every weird musical urge that the band members had ever had. It was raw, fascinating and unexpected. But most of all, it worked. Like gangbusters. In fact the only question left for most after hearing Destroyer of the Void was where the hell the band would go next with its music.
How about 1974?
Blitzen Trapper's American Goldwing is out TODAY and we're taking the opportunity this week to explore some of the history that clearly went into the making of that album.
Today's lesson comes to you from one Joe Walsh. Before he joined The Eagles and toned it down a little bit, Walsh was a wee bit of a shredder. In fact, Walsh's music was pretty much what the 70's were all about. Simple riffs. Epic Guitar solos. Moustaches.
His influence is strong on Goldwing, especially on tracks like "Street Fighting Son" and "Fletcher". But in usual fashion, the Trapper boys some how manage to take something that was already awesome, and make it their own.
Don't take my word for it though. Experience Walsh at his ass-rocky (I mean that lovingly) best in the clip below.
SEE Blitzen Trapper rehearsing
WITNESS as Blitzen Trapper packs up the van
BE AMAZED as Blitzen Trapper contemplates
WATCH as Blitzen Trapper shoots sh@#
Be AWESTRUCK by the awesomeness of
the new single from American Goldwing
American Goldwing is will be released proper on September 13, but you can stream the entire album right now over at Paste as well as just about every other place on the internets you can think of.
This little bit of news just made our week. Now if they follow through on our request to form a super group with The Rosebuds in time for the Black Cat show, the universe will have truly achieved perfect harmony.Check out the press release below for on not just the tour, but the bands new album, "American Goldwing", which is scheduled to drop on September 13th...which isn't anywhere near soon enough for us.
BLITZEN TRAPPER ANNOUNCE CO-HEADLINING TOUR WITH DAWES
LIMITED TICKET PRE-SALE STARTING AUGUST 5TH AT 10am EST
FREE SIX SONG SAMPLER AVAILABLE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD
Blitzen Trapper has a new record coming out September 23 (f@#@ yea!!) and our sources tell us that American Goldwing may in fact be the best thing the band has ever done. This should come as no surprise though as almost everything, in our estimation at least, is the best thing they've ever done. Trapper is a band that has never really made misstep in the entirety of their career, and we don't expect them to now. With 3, soon to be 4, Sub-Pop albums under their belt, the band is doing something that a lot of other bands seem to have forgot about these days: they consistently make music. It seems like it's not a year without a Blitzen Trapper record, and that level of prolificness is what being a musician is what it's supposed to be all about my friends.
This track from 2008's Furr, is a perfect example of how the band has learned to maintain the over the top psychedelic freak out sound of their younger days, and still wrap it in, well, a Trappernes, that turns it into a perfect little rock song. Their blend of garage rock urgency and earnest folkitude certainly isn't anything new, but you've rarely, if ever, heard it done quite this well.
Blitzen Trapper - War On Machines
Farewell Blitzen Trapper. We hardly knew ya.