The 2017 edition of Newport Folk Festival kicked off on Friday (7/28) at Fort Adams Park in Newport, Rhode Island. Fleet Foxes headlined the first day of this year’s festival (more on their set HERE), and there were also sets from Regina Spektor (who recently played Central Park SummerStage), Ben Gibbard (who played songs off his Teenage Fanclub cover album along with solo takes on Death Cab for Cutie material), The Head and The Heart, Shovels & Rope, Nancy and Beth (the musical duo of actors Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt, joined here by special guest Nick Offerman), Brent Cobb, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Big Thief (who just added a couple of NYC headlining shows to their tour), Alone & Together (a supergroup featuring Kevin Morby, Sam Cohen, Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats, Joe Russo and Josh Kaufman, who covered each others songs as well as playing some original material), and more. Pictures from the festival’s first day are in the gallery above.
Although the Providence Journal said “music triumphed over politics” at Newport on Friday, the protest songs of Hurray for the Riff Raff were an exception:
There was surprisingly little political comment from the stage on Friday (at least that I heard), with the exception of Alynda Segarra, lead singer for rowdy folk-rockers Hurray for the Riff Raff. “Don’t let anyone in power tear us apart or turn us against each other,” she said.
Providence Journal also highlighted Nancy and Beth’s unique set:
One of the stranger acts Friday was Nancy and Beth, fronted by actresses Megan Mullally (of “Will & Grace”) and Stephanie Hunt (of “Friday Night Lights”) who did a mix of ’30s cabaret, country, blues and even gospel on the small Harbor stage.
They wore odd green outfits, but they can really sing, and harmonized nicely together. They sang a straight version of a Pops Staples gospel song, “Waiting for My Child.” But mostly they were musical ironists, undercutting their songs with oddball dancing or spoken interludes.
They had tambourines for “Please Mr. Jailer” and got particularly goofy on “the most country country song ever written,” George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.
Newport Folk Festival continues through the weekend; stay tuned for more from the Fort. Some sets are audio streaming live, as well.
photos by Ben Stas