Newport Folk Festival 2011

On Saturday, my friend Miriam and I left her house in Lexington, Mass. at 9 am and made great time driving down to Newport until we got hung up in traffic winding through the center of town. This festival’s been going on for decades and I’d think that getting in and getting out would be much more streamlined. There were FOUR buses carting people from the parking lots to the gates. Four buses for around 10K people? That’s ludicrous and poor planning to say the least. We made it through the entrance at 1 pm! It took us two hours to get from our car through the entrance gates. On the way out, it took us 45 minutes to wait for the shuttle and get out of the parking lot.

Newport’s beautiful and it’s a great location for a festival. A delightful ocean breeze wafted through the grounds of Fort Adams State Park. Disappointed I didn’t have a press pass [just a press ticket] because I’d have had better views of many acts. Also I expected the setting to be a combination of Great Woods and Harborlights– tents in front of stages, seats and lawn. Some guy said, of those drifting around off of boats: “it’s like Normandy of Beach Blanket Bingo.” The food highlight for me: vegan soft serve ice cream from Rhode Island’s Like No Udder. Yummy. Oh, and I got a falafel wrap but I’ve had better.

So I missed Sallie Ford and the Sound, unfortunately. I managed to see seven acts on three different stages.

Here’s who I DID manage to see:

–Extremely energetic 12-piece sound with two drummers, a horn section, two violinists and a cellist. Very unique.

Gogol Bordello
–So much fun! Explosive. Zany gypsy punk.
Lead singer, Eugene Hütz, said: I’m from Ukraine and couldn’t be more excited about it.”

Tegan and Sara
— Wonderfully strong acoustic set. Funny quips in between songs too. Very appreciate crowd over on the Quad stage.

Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three
— Very old time folk.

Devil Makes Three
— Good performers just not my thing. Bluesy, twangy, Gothic, Deep South-style folk.

Gillian Welch
–Powerhouse vocalist with a lovely voice.

The Decemberists
–One of my favorite bands. closed out the day on the Fort stage with an amazingly set including “O, Valencia,” “Calamity Song, “The Rake’s Songs,” “Down by the Water.” impeccable sound & Colin Meloy had an easy-going give and take with the audience.

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