Newport Folk Festival continued on Saturday, with chilly, windy conditions early in the day delaying ferries and leading attendees to bundle up more than one might expect from a summer festival. We posted about Grandma's Hands Band's Bill Withers cover set, a one time collaboration between Justin Vernon, Natalie Prass, and members of Hiss Golden Messenger; another highlight from Saturday at Fort Adams Park was a headlining set from Wilco, who ended the day by bringing out Billy Bragg to join in for a "California Stars" singalong. Watch video of that below.
Billy Bragg also played a set earlier in the day with Joe Henry; the Providence Journal called it "the strongest connection to the history of the festival" of the day:
The strongest connection to the history of the festival, at least that I saw, was the set from Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, who traveled the country by rail and recorded classic railroad songs along the way.
Playing at the small Harbor stage, they offered a musical history lesson, playing “Rock Island Line” the way it was originally recorded in 1935 at the Cummins State Farm prison in Arkansas.
Bragg, an unapologetic leftist activist, ended with a singalong of Woody Guthrie’s “Ramblin’ Round.” But first, he delivered a pointed message to the crowd. The song, he said, is not just about Dust Bowl refugees, but refugees now, from across the world.
“We will be judged, by our children and our grandchildren, by how we treat these people who come seeking our help in their hour of need,” he said.
Saturday in Newport also included sets from Angel Olsen (who brought out Jim James during her set for "Sister" and "Those Were the Days," which you can watch below), The Avett Brothers (who, as they have before, covered "Black Hole Sun" in honor of Chris Cornell; watch video below), Off Rex (the collaboration of The Decemberists and Olivia Chaney, who recently played a show at Town Hall in NYC), Nikki Lane, Marlon Williams, Drive-By Truckers, Jim James, Mandolin Orange, J.P. Harris & Chance McCoy, and more.
photos by Ben Stas