A Few of Our Favorite Newport Folk Festival Moments | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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A Few of Our Favorite Newport Folk Festival Moments

Party like it's 2021

Aug 06, 2021 By Laura Studarus
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Newport Folk Festival isn’t just a music festival—back after last year’s non-edition (cheekily titled “Folk Off”) it was more akin to a much-needed return to summer camp. Artists joined like-minded musicians and pals on stage, nearly every act dropped a notable cover, and with only two stages (including one near the water where boats would regularly dock to enjoy the festivities), there was plenty of opportunity to catch almost every act, and still have time to grab a lobster roll. Given the unique opportunity for memorable moments, here’s a few of our favorites.   There’s moxie and then there’s the kind of star charisma displayed by Devon Gilfillian, who performed a whole set of Marvin Gay covers to draw attention to voter suppression in Tennessee. Waxahatchee and Kevin Morby opened their set with a gentle cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Aint Me Babe”… …While Emma Swift took to the main stage with a full set of Dylan covers—brilliantly reinterpreting cuts like “A Simple Twist of Fate” with a little guitar assistance from Robyn Hitchcock. Ben Gibbard started his set with an acoustic version of Postal Service’s “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight,” much to the delight of millennial electro pop fans everywhere. I’m every woman—but there’s only one true Chaka Khan, who was Sunday night’s surprise guest.   And if you like Khan, you’ll love Yola, whose barnburner of a second album Stand For Myself is out now. Allison Russell is a fan! The angelic-voiced clarinetist was the week’s biggest cheerleader, curating a Once and Future Sounds tribute to Black folk artists, in addition to playing her own set and regularly popping up to duet with pals.
Almost as hard working was Andrew Bird, who appeared at multiple sets, including a stint in Margo Price’s backing band. After having her opening day set canceled due to an extreme weather evacuation, Grace Potter returned the next day to show audiences what they missed. Cover artist Julien Baker doing what she does best while we gently cry. He may be a loser (baby), but Beck reimagined “Debra” as a sexy folk anthem with the help of Fred Armisen. …speaking of which, please come back every year. Finally, may you all be as blessed as Langhorne Slim, who ended his set by jumping into the crowd to sing “You Are My Sunshine” with a legion of adoring new friends.


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