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10 Reasons To Get Excited for the Newport Folk Festival

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Jack White, Phox, collaborations and the weather forecast are just a few reasons we can’t wait.

10 Reasons To Get Excited for the Newport Folk Festival

Starting today, the Newport Folk Festival will bring the best of folk music to beautiful and historic Newport, Rhode Island for its 55th year. The beautiful thing about this festival, which I attended for the first time last year, is that is really isn't about the status or level of the band. It doesn't matter how big you are. Everyone is there because of their love of folk music. The level of camaraderie among all of the acts - and the respectful crowd, for that matter - is astounding. It's like nothing I've ever experienced at a festival, and that's why this festival is probably my favorite out there right now.

Aside from the atmosphere, there is plenty to get excited about this year with the Newport Folk Festival. Here are just 10 (though there are countless more) reasons why we can't wait to get to Rhode Island and get our folk on at the Newport Folk Festival (and surprisingly, we didn't even mention one of our favorite bands that's going to be there: Lucius!).

Fort Adams State Park

The venue that hosts the Newport Folk Festival is a thing of beauty. If I could choose to spend a summer weekend anywhere, it's hard to argue against Fort Adams State Park. From the beautiful Newport Harbor to the Narragansett Bay as backdrops, Instagrammers everywhere will be drooling over the possibilities.

Jack White Comes to Newport

Festival producer Jay Sweet had described White as one of his "white whales", a dream act that he hoped to book for the festival some day. That day has arrived as White will headline Saturday's lineup of acts. With a new album (Lazaretto) and old White Stripes standbys to fall back on, the possibilities are endless. Either way, White is going to put on an epic set.

The Up-And-Comers

Newport is a great place to discover new and emerging talent. Last year, I saw groups like the Wheeler Brothers, Blake Mills and Cold Specks for the first time. This year, there amount of newcomers is astonishing. I can't wait to see groups like Ages and Ages, Valerie June, Benjamin Booker, Leif Vollebekk, Hozier, and the newcomer I'm most excited for: PHOX. It's no secret that we love lead vocalist Monica Martin, and we can't wait to check this band out in such an idyllic setting.

The Weather

Outdoor festivals (and events, in general) are always at the mercy of Mother Nature. Fortunately, the forecast is pretty promising this weekend in Newport. The temperature isn't supposed to break 80º all three days, and there is only a 30% chance of rain on Sunday. The conditions are perfect for folk.

Hometown Flair

The Folk Fest always does a good job at maintaining some of Rhode Island's identity in the festival. Local sponsors and vendors are utilized each year. Musically, Providence native John McCauley and his band Deer Tick, staples of the festival for years, will finally be gracing the main stage. Upstart Death Vessel will also be making his Newport debut today.

Communion at Newport Folk Festival

In addition to three stages, there are also performances in the Museum Stage all three days. This year the festival is partnering with one of my favorite labels, Communion Records, to bring a great string of performances. Hamilton Leithauser (of The Walkmen), Bear's Den, Hozier, Leif Vollebekk and Willy Mason will all be playing sets, and they will all be quite intimate affairs.

Nickel Creek Reunites

The members of Nickel Creek - Chris Thile, Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins - are all musical geniuses. Thile has actually earned himself a MacArthur Genius Grant, so he's literally a genius. But this trio, who formed when they were kids 25 years ago, are back with a new album of mesmerizing folk and bluegrass. Seeing Thile with a mandolin is one of the great musical pleasures out there.

Stretching the Boundaries of Folk

NPR wrote about a few discoveries at this year's fest that test the limits at what can be considered "folk" music. Artists like Reignwolf, Death Vessel, Anais Mitchell + Jefferson Hamer and others bring new sensibilities that really broaden Newport's offerings. Reignwolf might be the loudest artist Newport will ever see. But at the same time, they all still align with the mission statement of folk music, even if it isn't unplugged.

Ed Helms and John C. Reilly?

If you saw a festival with Ed Helms and John C. Reilly on the bill, you would assume you are seeing comedy. At Newport, each will be showing off their musical chops. Helms has played with his college band The Lonesome Trio for over two decades, and Reilly has displayed his musical prowess in films like Chicago and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Rest assured, there will likely be comedic banter between some great music.

Surprise Collaborations

The communal spirit at Newport and the universal respect for the music usually leads to some pretty amazing cameos by acts throughout the weekend. On Sunday, Dawes will act as Conor Oberst's backing band. That one is planned, but in the spirit of folk, you can expect artists to crash stages left and right to play as much music as they can. Everyone needs to be at the Fort Stage when Mavis Staples wraps things up on Sunday, because she will surely bring a cavalcade of guests and musical friends with her to the stage.

And, for good measure, we're incredibly excited to see NYC's own Lucius too. We just couldn't help ourselves. They are going to be fabulous.

Follow CHARGED.fm on Instagram and Twitter (@CHARGEDfm) for tweets and photos/videos of the Newport Folk Festival all weekend long!

Want great tickets but hate paying fees? Check CHARGED.fm to find tickets for less and NO FEES!

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