Monday, August 1, 2011
Narrows Does Newport Folk Festival
Here's what I saw on Sunday July 31, 2011 Newport Folk Festival
We arrived on site around 12:45. I wanted to see David Wax Museum but their set had just ended. I heard they ripped it up. No surprise, we had David and company at the Narrows in February and they were great. They have just been added to our 10th Anniversary weekend on November 3. Next up on the main stage, was Carolina Chocolate Drops. They have added a member and changed another since their Narrows show last September. CCD does a great job of bringing contemporary elements to old timey music. They really got the crowd going with lotsa young people dancing upfront. That's not easy to accomplish for an acoustic band on a big stage.
Next me and my beautiful wife Maggie made our way to the Quad stage where The Secret Sisters were playing. They were very captivating with their beautiful harmonies and high quality songs. It was a very stripped down approach with the "sisters" switching off on a single guitar. They were kinda country but they had a very cinematic approach to their music. Look for a Narrows date in the fall. We then headed back to the main stage where rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson was about to take the stage. Wanda didn't just take the stage, she owned it. With a crack 5 piece band, Wanda at 74 prowled and gyrated and got the whole crowd moving. She did a great version of Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel. She told a great story of how Elvis had encouraged her to sing rock and roll. Up to that point she had only sung country and didn't have the confidence to sing rock. Thank you to Elvis for giving Wanda the push to rock and roll. One of the Festival highlights for me was her smoking version of "Shakin All Over"
We headed back to the Quad stage, where our old friend Justin Townes Earle was about to play. Ably backed by the beautiful Bryn Davis on Bass and a smoking pedal steel player, JTE enraptured the crowd with his brilliant song writing and soulful vocal delivery. Highlights for me were a haunting Christ Church Woman, Slippin and Sliding and rousing finale of Harlem River Blues. It was beginning to get real hot so we headed back to our fun bus for a little break in the action. Our bus driver brilliantly parked our bus next to all the bands tour bus's which was right outside the gates so it was a short walk back to the bus for a cool beverage or two, Many other members of our crew had the same idea. Let the Good times Roll.
Next up for me and Maggie was one of my all time faves Elvis Costello. This was billed as a solo show but I was pleased to see a band set -up. What a band it is, Steve Nieve on Keys, Pete Thomas on drums and Davey Faarraghar on Bass. They rearranged a few of his older tunes mixed in some of his newer countryish numbers and invited three guest performers up to help him. First up, the Secret Sisters added some beautiful harmonies to a couple of tunes. He then had Chris Thile come up and play some scorching mandolin. Emmylou then entered to add beautiful harmonies to a tune. Elvis ended his set with a rousing version of "What's So Funny Bout Peace Love and Understanding" I hate to be overly hippie but this tune really carried the spirit of the day.
With sail boats floating in the water and the sun beginning to subside,the stage was set for another one of my longtime faves, Emmylou Harris. I have seen Emmylou many times in different configurations. I thought her new band at the Festival had great flexibility moving from quiet ballads to rocking full out. The mando/fiddle player was outstanding. She mixed some older songs with a few new gems. Highlights for me were great renditions of Pancho and Lefty, Leaving Louisiana, Sin City and Luxury Liner. The show ended with Pete Seeger and many of the days performers serenading the crowd with Turn, Turn Turn. Lotsa people singing and a perfect way to cap off a great day of music.
Kudos to the Festival's organizer's for a great event. The event promoter's did a splendid job of mixing older and newer acts. All high quality acts but varied in style and approach. The mix of younger acts also brought out alot of young people which was great to see. My only suggestion would be to vary the set times more, so more acts could be seen.
As great as the music was, what made the day so special to me was the camaraderie and friendship amongst the crew. Viva Narrows -onward and upward