The Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island is a cultural institution that has been running off and on since 1959 and in its time has featured major acts from Johnny Cash to Muddy Waters. The vibe at Newport this year was quite different from previous festival experiences; with plenty of space and a friendly staff there was no jockeying for position to get a stage view and most people moved about leisurely. The NFF folks did a great job creating a relaxed environment focused purely around the desire to enjoy music. With acts including Jim James and Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Newport's interpretation of contemporary folk music runs the gambit and taps into some really fantastic artists. To document CH's time there, we selected some of the best Instagram photos from the festival and created a playlist of choice tracks from artists who performed there. If you want to hear the live recordings from the festival head to NPR who were also on site.
"Newport has always been about real music played by real people and not some myopic definition of 'folk'."
Creative Director of the festival Chris Capotosto snapped a great shot before the event began, giving a glimpse of the signs that would later go up on the memorial poles showing where famous performances had taken place. Capotosto says, "The memorial pole is meant to remind everyone of the late greats that came before—a nod to that heritage. It also stands as a testament to how diverse the festival's definition of folk has been from the onset. Newport has always been about real music played by real people and not some myopic definition of 'folk.'"
Our own shot was snapped during the pinnacle of an extremely sarcastic and over-the-top energetic set by Father John Misty. Josh Tillman, the band's lead singer, spent his time between songs ribbing the festival, the performers and the crowd—all of whom's reactions were a testament to the great attitude people bring to Newport.
"Newport Folk Festival somehow escapes the crowds of Coachella and the lines of SXSW and is, above everything else, about the experience of music."
Teresa Herrmann, a stylist based in New York City got this phenomenal shot of Feist performing from backstage during the first day which had been ridden with storms. From Herrmann: "Newport Folk Festival somehow escapes the crowds of Coachella and the lines of SXSW, and is above everything else, about the experience of music. Every year it's three memorable days in the sun (or with Feist, huddles of wonderful people in the rain), with an amazing view, and the most epically scripted soundtrack. It's by far one of my favorite weekends of the year."
Jonathan Evans, a senior online editor for Esquire, caught another unique element of the Newport atmosphere—the ferry you can take to the show. Jonathan said, "This year was my first time at Newport Folk Fest, but it's become overwhelmingly clear to me that it won't be my last. Aside from the impressive views from the ferry to the shows—onboard which they serve cold beer, by the way—there was the music, which was fantastic. I'm now officially planning to turn the trip from Brooklyn to Rhode Island into an annual tradition."
Cool Hunting's Editorial Director of Video Greg Stefano was in a serendipitous location and caught a unique moment during which the Lumineers had an impromptu stage built from boxes and folding chairs and performed a few songs within the crowd. Stefano recalls, "The festival overall had a very unique and relaxed vibe. The musicians mixed with the attendees and the security was nothing like you would see at Bonnaroo or a larger festival. This was perfectly illustrated by the Lumineers entering the crowd for part of their performance and made for an extremely intimate moment between the artists and the attendees."
Mobolaji Dawodu, a costume designer and stylist from The Fader made it outside the festival grounds to explore Newport itself. He grabbed a shot of one of the famed Gilded Age mansions in Newport, whose architecture strongly defines the city. Dawodu's take on the festival itself: "The Newport Folk Festival was very easy and laid-back. Probably one of the most down-to-earth music festivals still out there; really about the actual music, not fashion, blogs or pretense—it was quite relaxing. And Jim James killed it."
"The timing could not be better as Beck played "Sunday Sun" to compliment the arriving sunshine. It's moments like this that have me returning to Newport Folk Festival every summer."
Selectism founder and longtime Newport Folk Festival attendee Jeff Carvalho was on site for Beck's performance which closed out the festival lineup. He grabbed a shot of Beck from backstage after patiently waiting for a prime position. Carvalho says, "As a fan of all music—especially the louder side of electronic and dance—Newport shares with me music and artists that play on rich, natural sounds of voice and classic instruments. Beck, who headlined the closing set on Sunday, is an example of an artist that spans the musical range. He is one of the best examples of how folk music has moved beyond its defined boundary. I had no plans to miss his set and queued up for a prime spot in the guest viewing area above and right of the stage. This photo was taken just as the clouds broke over Newport. The timing could not be better as Beck played 'Sunday Sun' to compliment the arriving sunshine. It's moments like this that have me returning to Newport Folk Festival every summer."
Dockers, who were kind enough to invite us to Newport were on site participating as one of the few sponsors of the festival. They had MKG build out a custom Airstream trailer to serve as their headquarters distributing apparel to attendees. The shiny silver trailer fit perfectly into the festival's atmosphere and was a great contrast to the walls of Ft. Adams where the festival took place.
Scene, by All highlights festivals, openings, parties and other events through multiple perspectives of people who were there. Our editors select social media posts by participants, guests and our own contributors, pairing images with quotes, history, audio and other relevant content, to create multimedia collages that dynamically capture a moment in time.