6 of the Coolest Musical Moments from Newport Folk Fest 2017Article by: Laura Mason|@masonlazarus
Tue August 01, 2017 | 16:15 PM
Newport Folk Festival is as storied and iconic a festival as they come. So much history has been made here in the past, like when Bob Gibson called onstage a relatively unknown Joan Baez in 1959 during its inaugural year. A few years later, in 1963, Baez returned the favor and invited Bob Dylan onstage for what’s generally considered his national debut performance. Then, in 1965, he infamously went “electric,” with a backing band of plugged-in instruments. Later in the decade, in 1969, country singer Johnny Cash introduced Kris Kristofferson — relatively unknown until then except to insiders. that new surprising moments each and every year come with the territory. In 2005, the indie rock band the Pixies pulled a reverse Dylan and went acoustic for a whole set; and New Zealand musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords reunited onstage in 2016.
Epic musical moments are par for the course at Newport Folk, thanks in part to the fact that this "folk" festival freely and gleefully blurs, smears, and smudges the lines between its namesake genre and many other musical styles – much like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival or New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival . But these musical moments, aside from affording attendees bragging rights, are a glorious display of the love and respect fellow artists share for one another. When that's oozing and emanating from a festival's stages, those good vibes make their way across the festival grounds and crowds, as well.
Below are the ones that plucked our heartstrings this past weekend.
1. Pink Floyd's Roger Waters Joins John Prine Onstage
Rock legend Roger f-ing Waters aiding folk legend John Prine to duet on Prine's 1971 jammer "Hello In There" is classic Newport Folk. Unexpected, progressive, soulful, and beautiful.
2. Avett Brothers Cover "Black Hole Sun" In Tribute to Chris Cornell
With Chris Cornell's death still fresh in the minds of music lovers everywhere, this lowkey tribute covering Cornell's mournful classic couldn't have been better timed.
3. Nick Offerman Joins Jim James for "Masters of War"
Who'd have thought an actor-slash-comedian could take on Bob Dylan's intense folk standard "Masters of War" so deftly? Of course, Jim James's (of My Morning Jacket) soulful croons immensely add to the song's power and impact.
4. Jim James Joins Angel Olsen for "Sister"
5. Grandma's Hands Band Performs "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers
The supergroup comprised of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, Hiss Golden Messenger, Natalie Prass, Phil Cook, Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood, Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Alynda Segarra unleashed an entire set in tribute to soul star Bill Withers, performing songs like "Lovely Day," and "Ain't No Sunshine." If you were there, you're lucky; it was a only-time-only thing.
6. Billy Bragg Reunites with Wilco for "California Stars"
If there's a patron saint of Newport Folk Festival, it would be folk deity Woody Guthrie. So you can imagine the surprise and delight rippling across the audience when, at the end of Wilco's set, their longtime collaborator Billy Bragg came out sing "California Stars." It's a song with lyrics by Guthrie put to music by Wilco for their 1998 record with Bragg, Mermaid Avenue (a record comprised of previously unheard lyrics by Guthrie).