The Newport Folk Festival provided yet another weekend of wonderful music, surprise collaborations and all-around excitement this summer at Fort Adams. Here are some highlights:
Thanks to Kyle Tormey, vinyl devotees in Newport have a new spot on Broadway to hunt for 12-inch treasures. Kyle buys, sells and trades records that span all musical genres at Vinyl Guru, so the inventory is always changing. Eamon and I are big fans of the place and have scored some gems for our growing collection since Kyle opened in June. Eamon's favorites: Kurt Vile's Childish Prodigy and Constant Hitmaker. Mine: Stevie Wonder classics Innervisions and Talking Book. Not only is the shop packed with great finds, but Kyle and his girlfriend Jessica Teixeira are always a pleasure to see. I had fun shooting the couple recently for a Mercury cover story by Olivia Barrett on Vinyl Guru and two other new local businesses started by young entrepreneurs, The Reformed Moth and Tricycle Ice Cream.
The Newport Folk Festival celebrated it's 55th anniversary this summer with yet another thrilling weekend of amazing music and unforgettable moments. This year’s festival was jam-packed with performers whose music I was hearing for the first time. Like a birthday girl leaving her party with a bag full of shiny new toys, I walked away from the weekend buzzing with excitement over the priceless gift of new music to add to the soundtrack of my life.
Topping my list is the 1960's-inspired indie pop band Lucius. Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, with their mod matching outfits and beautifully-synched voices, are a joy to watch. I fell in love with their gorgeous harmonies, stomping percussion and infectious melodies. I think I'll be listening to their debut album Wildewoman a lot this year.
Reignwolf's sweat-soaked electrifying performance left me speechless. Jordan Cook, aka Reignwolf, could be a one-man show. He plays the guitar – like he's possessed by the spirit of Jimi Hendrix – sings, and plays drums all at the same time. He doesn't even have a debut album yet, but he's already toured with the Pixies and Black Sabbath. Not only is he crazy talented, he's a super nice guy. I had a chance to chat with him after his set and he talked about how humbled he was to be playing the Newport Folk Festival. Something tells me it won't be his last time.
Speaking of amazing guitar skills, the Mexican acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Their music is a fusion of neuvo flamenco, rock and metal. The passionate duo are mesmerizing to watch as they strum and tap their guitars with unimaginable speed and precision.
It’s always fun to check out the stylish ensembles gracing the Fort throughout the weekend.
Guitarist Steve Varney and violinist Jeb Bows perform with Gregory Alan Isakov.
Jimmy Cliff spreads good vibrations.
Ryan Monroe, Ben Bridwell and Tyler Ramsey of Band of Horses
The crowd goes wild while Trampled By Turtles performs.
Jesse Trbovich, right, performs with Kurt Vile, left, and The Violators.
Alynda Lee Segarra performs with her band Hurray For The Riff Raff.
Deer Tick frontman John McCauley gets a smack on the cheek from Folk Festival Producer Jay Sweet.
Beck was roaming around in the crowd as a spectator on Friday. With a straw hat, sunglasses and a nautical striped shirt, he could have blended right in with the crowd if it weren’t for the backstage access sticker he was wearing with BECK written on it. Very few people seemed to notice him, but he was graciously posing for photographs and saying hello to fans who approached him.
With so much good music to hear, it's impossible to get to everything, but I'm happy I made it to the quad stage to catch the end of The Oh Hellos' exuberant set. I loved seeing the performers react to the crowds' roaring applause.
Mavis Staples celebrated her 75th birthday by closing out the festival with an uplifting set that inspired some folk fans to form an impromtu Soul Train line in the crowd. Watching strangers skipping and dancing through the human walkway reminded me of what I love most about music: it's power to spread cheer and bring people together. Mavis' set featured lots of special guests, included Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius, Norah Jones, Trampled By Turtles and Jeff Tweedy. She closed with a moving group singalong of "We Shall Overcome" in tribute to the late Pete Seeger. The weekend ended with the presentation of a birthday cake and the audience broke into song, "...Happy Birthday, Dear Mavis, Happy Birthday to you!"
Folk fan and beloved New England musician and visual artist Dan Blakeslee of Somerville, Mass., dances his way through the impromptu Soul Train line that formed during Mavis Staples' set. Dan wasn't one of the performers at this year's festival, but he's set to celebrate the release of his sixth album Owed To The Tanglin' Wind at the Columbus Theatre September 4th.
Photos and text by Jacqueline Marque
Most people, whether they admit it or not, have something in their music collection that they only listen to when no one else is around. For what ever reason, it's a secret indulgence that’s kept under wraps. I've got plenty of guilty gems on my iPod (Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz, U2’s Pop) and a few in my record collection. Here are four of them:
Clockwise, from left:
Lionel Ritchie – Dancing On The Ceiling, 1986 Ah, Lionel. Everybody loves Lionel. How can you not? The mustache. The blazer over a turtleneck. The hits! I own a couple of Lionel Ritchie CDs and poached this album from my brother. I guess this is a double guilty pleasure since it's stolen. It is packed with cheese, but nothing tops "Dancing on the Ceiling." "Say You, Say Me" is a close second.
Culture Club – Kissing To Be Clever, 1982 I'm not even sure how this ended up in my record collection. Actually, I'm not sure how this and two copies of their 1983 release, Colour By Numbers, ended up in my possession, but they did, and I've played them more times than I care to admit. "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" and "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" get the most rotations. When we were taking the pictures of this, Evangeline kept saying, "I like she's hat. I want a hat like she."
Kenny Rogers – Greatest Hits, 1980 This is the first record I ever asked for. It was a birthday present. I have a vivid memory of sitting in my parents' dining room and opening this gift. I was over the moon. I'm very happy I still have it and it's in pretty good condition. There are too many great songs on it to list, but obviously, "The Gambler" is tops.
Elton John – Greatest Hits, 1974 Technically, this isn't my record. It's on loan from my parents. I wanted to include it in my photo series because it holds a lot of memories for me. The record player was in our dining room when I was a kid. We listened to this album quite a bit. I remember dancing around the dining room table singing, "BA-BA-BA BENNY AND THE JETS!" with my brother Chris. The record is chock full of classics like “Rocketman” and “Daniel.” I suppose it only falls into the guilty pleasures category when someone hears you say, "So the other day I was listening to Elton John…" I'm not a fan of his music outside of this album. Not to deny his talent and philanthropy, but he carries a wacky pop stigma that some people just can't shake.
What are your guilty pleasures?
I know favorites lists are usually published near the end of the year in which the albums are released, but I didn't start this photo series until November, 2013. At the time, I didn't know that I would be incorporating them into regular blog posts. Besides, I think it takes a while for music to settle in before it can become a favorite. These four albums top my list from last year. They're in no particular order.
Clockwise, from left:
Atoms For Peace – Amok, 2013 Usually when a "supergroup" releases a record, the music ends up falling short of the hype (see Zwan, Crooked Vultures, for example). Amok surpassed my expectations and then some. Sprouting from the Thom Yorke solo project, The Eraser, Atoms for Peace recruited Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, producer Nigel Goodrich and drummer Joey Waronker, who has played with Beck, Elliot Smith, and R.E. M., to name a few. The live instrumentation adds an extra level of depth to Thom Yorke's compositions. I find it best played at high volume or on head phones to hear all the layers of sound throughout the songs. Stand out tracks: "Ingenue" and "Stuck Together Pieces."
Ann Pragg – Bitter Fruit, 2013 I'm a big fan of Vice Media. They have great journalism and photography and are usually ahead of the game when it comes to reporting national and world events. The one thing I don't like about Vice is their music reviews. They are generally snarky and elitist. The reviews tend to shit all over music just for the sake of shitting all over it. I was surprised to discover Ann Pragg through a positive music review on Vice. Ann Pragg is the pseudonym of musician Matt Raddick. The sound is stark and moody, atypical music to come out of sunny Florida. Stand out tracks: "Demolition Dust" and "Januarium."
Devendra Banhart – Mala, 2013 I love all of Devendra Banhart's music. Cripple Crow will probably always be my favorite. When Mala was released last March, I was so excited to hear it because it had felt like an eternity since his previous album, What Will We Be, had come out. Mala continues in his ever-evolving style of folk music and expands on instrumentation more than previous works. Stand out tracks: "Fur Hlidegard Von Bingen" and "The Ballad of Keenan Milton."
Pilot to Gunner – Guilty Guilty, 2013 I've know the guys from Pilot to Gunner for many years. They are good friends with my brother Chris. They put on a great live show and, in my opinion, have one of the best band names. Scott, the singer/guitarist, sent me a copy of Guilty Guilty to be included in the photo series along with a letter to Evangeline that I kept in the record sleeve. One day, when she will inevitably inherit this collection, she'll find the letter and have a cool little memento to accompany the album. Stand out tracks: "L.A." and "Cash For Gold"
What were your favorite releases from 2013?
As I said in my first post, music was a big part of life in the Kelly house. The influence of my older brothers Tim and Chris helped shape my taste. I've always thought they are just the coolest. I’m sure it must have been annoying to have their little brother constantly hounding them about everything. One big thing they did for me was recommend music. Sometimes it was a casual nudge; other times it was a more forceful suggestion: “Turn off this crappy Debby Gibson tape and listen to the Afghan Whigs.” Chris played guitar and sang in a few bands throughout college and his 20s. Seeing him play live was always amazing and such a thrill for me. Tim worked as a DJ on numerous radio stations (most recently, WMBR in Cambridge). After a year-long stint at the D.C. music venue the Black Cat and Dischord Records, he now works for Furnace Manufacturing, which presses and packages vinyl for many big record labels. These four pictures include records introduced to me by Tim and Chris.
Clockwise, from left:
Pavement – Slanted and Enchanted, 1992
Pavement will always be my favorite band. Slanted and Enchanted was my musical epiphany. I still distinctly remember the day when Tim brought this record home and said something to the effect of"Stop everything you are doing and listen to this.” It blew me away. An album had never so wholly consumed my mind the way S+E did. From the first blasts of fuzz on “Summer Babe (Winter Version),” to the loose-limbed drumming on the album's closing track “Our Singer,” I was hooked. I poured over the artwork, every little detail, trying to glean any bit of information about the band. Lucky for me, Pavement played at Club Baby Head in Providence shortly after my introduction. It's still my favorite show of all time.
The National – Alligator, 2005
A few years back, my brother Chris had a blog about baseball and life. I was an avid reader. And, as his brother, I considered it my duty to regularly chime in with annoying comments and witticisms. On occasion, he'd write about music. Even though he’s turned me on to great music over the years, I’ve been skeptical of his recommendations ever since that time in 1993 when he implored me to get the new Posies album Frosting on the Beater. He said if I didn't like it, he would buy it off of me. Well, it sucked, and he never bought it off of me. Since then, I’ve approached his recommendations with caution. Then, in April of 2005, he posted this:
”Go out and get/buy/download Alligator, The National's new album…Album of the year. I don't need to hear anything else; my vote is in. I know I have zero credibility when it comes to music (I'm the person who freely admits to liking...*cough*...*cough*...Third Eye Blind, Matchbox 20, and Switchfoot), but this album just absolutely kills wire to wire."
I was curious. I did as he said and was blown away.
Archers of Loaf – Icky Mettle, 1993
This was a pre-Posies recommendation from Chris. When he played "Web in Front" for me, I think I said something like, "Pavement rip off.” Then he punched me and I came around and realized they are nothing like Pavement (though this will be argued till the end of time). Archers are raw, arty punk rock with just enough bravado to be tongue in cheek. They’ve put out solid records throughout their career, but Icky Mettle remains my favorite.
Dinosaur Jr. – You're Living All Over Me, 1987
I'm sure I owe as much credit to my Uncle Dave as I do to my brother Tim for introducing me to Dinosaur Jr. Uncle Dave shared his love of rock and roll with Tim, who then passed it along to Chris and me. Some time in the mid 80's, I took a left turn from Van Halen, ended up at Dinosaur Jr., and never looked back. J Mascis is arguably the best indie rock guitarist of all time. The hooks on “You're Living All Over Me” are incredible. The amps are turned to 11 and the distortion pedals are at 12.
How did your siblings influence your taste in music? What music did you grow up with?
Summer is just around the corner, which means a few things to me: twin lobster rolls from Easton's Beach, Del's lemonade, and the Newport Folk Festival. The albums this week are from bands that have had memorable performances at the folk festival in recent years. The Newport Festivals Foundation is still rolling out the 2014 line up. When it's complete, I’d like to do a post highlighting albums from some of the bands that will perform this year. Clockwise, from left:
The Head and The Heart – Self-titled, 2011 One of the nice things about the Newport Folk Festival (NFF) is the inevitable "discovery" of a new band. The Head And The Heart was that for me in 2011. They were relative newcomers to most in attendance (they signed with Sub Pop in November 2010) and those who witnessed their performance were treated to a powerful, energetic set. They were slotted at the same time as Middle Brother and Elvis Costello, but they kept the tent packed and people were dancing the entire time. The next day, I went straight to the record store and bought their self-titled release.
Cat Power – Jukebox, 2008 All I’ve ever read about Cat Power's live shows are that they tend to be hit or miss. Stories of Chan Marshall melting down during sets or walking off stage after a song and a half had me wondering what I'd be in for during her set at the 2008 NFF. To say it was brilliant would be selling it short. She absolutely blew the roof off the tent. Her backing band was tight and her voice was perfect. She slithered through the crowd serenading men and women alike and even handed out roses to a few lucky audience members. I remember saying "wow!" over and over again after the set was over. I knew I had witnessed something special.
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, 2002 The 2012 NFF was, in my opinion, the best line up they have ever put together. Every year since Jay Sweet has taken the reigns as producer, the line ups have gotten better and better. 2012 was phenomenal: My Morning Jacket, Iron and Wine, Conor Oberst, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New Multitudes, Charles Bradley, Jackson Browne, The Head and The Heart, to name a few. But the most exciting band for me that year was Wilco. I've been a Jeff Tweedy fan since the first Uncle Tupelo album No Depression. I was fortunate enough to have seen Uncle Tupelo play live, but hadn't yet seen Wilco. They headlined a Friday night show at Fort Adams and absolutely killed it. They played songs from their whole catalog. The highlight was their cover of Woody Guthrie's "California Stars," which included backing vocals from Guthrie's granddaughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie.
My Morning Jacket – It Makes No Difference EP, 2012 This limited edition EP for Record Store Day November 2012 was recorded at the 2012 NFF. I bought two copies of it when it came out; one for listening and one to hang on the wall in my office. In some weird way, I have a special connection to the record because it was my generators that powered the festival, and in turn, powered the recording equipment that made the record possible. I've done hundreds of events in the temporary power world – Super Bowls, the 2002 Olympics, Bonnaroo Festivals, and the 2004 World Series (reverse the curse!). No memento tops this record, not even the platinum album I got for being on the road crew for the *NSYNC Pop Odyssey tour.
Do you have a favorite Folk Festival performance? Tell us about it! We'd love to hear your memories.
As a father, I feel it is my duty to impart any worldly wisdom I have acquired upon my daughter. Music has played a huge formative role in my life; it's helped me through break ups, break downs and the like. It provides me with joy and comfort and puts an extra spring in my step on dull days. Sharing music with Evangeline is one of my favorite parenting duties. When I buy a new record, I often wait until she comes home to open it so we can have a listening party. The following four photos are accompanied by brief stories about her associations with the music pictured.
Clockwise, from left:
1. Yo La Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out, 2000
While listening to this record one night during dinner, I pointed out the bass line in the song "Night Falls on Hoboken" to Evangeline. Earlier that evening, I had shown her my bass guitar and explained how it worked; strings, notes, frets, etc. She loved it. So, while we were listening to the song, I asked her what she thought of it and the bass line in particular. She thought for a second and said, "Dad, it sounds like bubbles, Dad."
2. Tom Waits – Bad As Me, 2011
Evangeline's first intelligible word was algae. Her 64th intelligible word was Tom Waits. Okay, so that's two words, but you get the point. For some reason, she was drawn to his voice and music and would request it be played multiple times a day. She nagged my mom so much that I had to make a mix CD for them to listen to during lunch at her house.
3. Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God, 2013
Of all the music we have introduced to Evangeline, Jim James' solo album has had the most impact on her. She is constantly asking to listen to it. The highlight of last summer's Newport Folk Festival was watching Jim James perform. Evangeline was over the moon about it. It took a song or two for it to sink in that she was watching the actual Jim James singing the songs on her favorite album. She still talks about it to this day and thinks that Jim James lives at Fort Adams.
4. Hot Water Music – Forever and Counting, 1997
About a year ago, I went to see Hot Water Music play at The Met. For the next week or so after, I played all their records at home. Their music had a huge impact on my life in my early twenties. Though it's not always the most popular music in our house, Evangeline took to it pretty well. So much so, that one afternoon I got a frantic phone call from Jacqueline telling me that that Evangeline was having a meltdown in her car because she didn't have any Hot Water Music on her iPod. Proud parenting moment for sure.
Do your kids have a Tom Waits or Jim James? Did you have a music obsession when you were a kid?
Images and text by Eamon Kelly. You can view the entire photo series on Instagram.
Jacqueline took this photo of us while we were watching Jim James perform at the Folk Festival last summer:
I've suffered from record shopping amnesia as far back as I can remember. When I walk into a record store, I often forget what I was planning on searching for that day. On my last few trips to New Orleans, I've set aside all ideas of what music I would like to buy and let the stacks dictate what I will be leaving with. The following photos are from our trip over the holidays…
Clockwise, from left:
1. Black Star – Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star, 1998
To me, the 90s were the best era for hip hop. This album is in my top five for the genre. Black Star only released one album as a duo. Their storytelling is a perfect blend of positivity, social consciousness and braggadocio. I first heard the song "Definition" while watching BET's Rap City one afternoon in 1998. It must have been out for a while, because I can remember hearing Mos Def's voice and thinking, "That's one of the dudes who raps on A Tribe Called Quest's 'Rock Rock Y'all.'" His voice is unmistakable. My favorite track is "Respiration." With Common as a guest lyricist, they paint a picture of a living, breathing cityscape. I found this at Domino Sound Record Shack in the Bywater. It's a perfect example of buying a record that I didn't expected to find. I had no idea this was even available on vinyl, so it was an extra special find for me.
2. Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris, 2007
The first Queens of the Stone Age album will always be my favorite, but this one is up there. It holds all the classic elements of a Queens record that will stand the test of time: shuffling rhythms, a Mark Lanagan song, falsetto, buzzing guitars. Josh Homme's guitar work on "Sick, Sick, Sick" sounds like coughing to me. "Turning on the Screw" has one of my favorite lyrics of all time: "You ain't a has been if you never was."
3. Nirvana – Incesticide, 1992
If I was stuck on a deserted island and somehow had a working record player and could only have one Nirvana record, this would be the one. It's only fitting to have the song "Big Long Now" on it. And I would listen to "Son of a Gun" everyday before going coconut hunting. ("Up up up and down. Turn turn turnaround. Round round roundabout. And over again.") My two favorite tracks on the album are "Aero Zeppelin" and "Aneurysm." 4. Beck – One Foot in the Grave,1994
During my first semester of college, there was a dude in my art class nicknamed Dirty or Scuzzy or something like that. He loved Beck. While we worked on charcoal still lifes of plastic fruit, he and I had many "philosophical" debates as to which Beck album was better, Mellow Gold or One Foot in the Grave. I chose One Foot in the Grave over Mellow Gold because of its stripped-down folk feel and indie credibility that its release on K Records brought with it. Scuzzy swore by "Truckdrivin' Neighbors Downstairs." Turns out neither of us was right or wrong. Both albums are great for their own reasons and proved to be a precursor for Beck's genre-bending musical career.
Do you have any memories associated with these albums? What are your favorite 90s hip hop records?
Images and text by Eamon Kelly. You can view the entire photo series on Instagram.
I'm happy to share that my husband Eamon Kelly will be contributing to Crescent & Anchor with a bi-weekly music post in 2014. The idea for this new feature developed in the fall when Eamon began photographing Evangeline with our record collection. What started with just a few images of our daughter holding records has grown into an ongoing father-daughter project that we've decided to call E's Academic Records. Each post will include a grouping of four images from the series. Eamon will share his thoughts about the albums; what makes them special, the feelings and memories they evoke. When Evangeline eventually inherits the collection, these posts will be the perfect accompaniment, a sort of music diary from her father. We hope to spur a conversation with readers, so please comment and tell us what the music means to you! Eamon: We always had records growing up. From a young age, my parents taught me how to handle them and treat them with respect. Some of my earliest memories are those where I am sitting on the dining room floor poring over the artwork while listening to the Rolling Stones, Elton John or Donovan. I still have the first record I ever asked for for a birthday present, Kenny Rogers' Greatest Hits. I love to hold the artwork and the ritual of placing the needle on the vinyl and then cranking the volume. Nothing to me, sounds better than listening to my favorite songs on vinyl. Now that I am a father, I am imparting this love of records onto my daughter, teaching her about music and it's value in everyday life.
Clockwise, from left:
1. The National – Trouble Will Find Me, 2013 This was one of my favorite records of 2013 and one of the first pics I took of E holding an album that made me realize I had something interesting going on. The National continue to make great album after great album. They make records that I want to buy again when I'm record shopping.
2. Panda Bear – Person Pitch, 2007 There was a moment a few years ago, while I was on a train barreling towards New York City, that this album opened up a spot in my brain that I haven't been able to close. It's an unbelievable creation. Beach Boys-esque harmonies, big beats, jangly guitars, and even a looped sample of the sound of a skateboard dropping in on a ramp. Probably one of the most important records made in my lifetime. As for the pic of Evangeline...
3. Pavement – Wowee Zowee, 1995 Great underrated Pavement album. The songs are all over the map, from the western soundscapes of "Pueblo" to the tinkling pianos on the Bowie-inspired "We Dance." The anticipation I was feeling before this record came out is still fresh in my mind nearly 20 years later. Evangeline really likes saying Wowee Zowee too.
4. Drive Like Jehu – self titled, 1991 "Spikes to you!" is such a great song and I like to ask E to yell it over and over again. This record reminds me of going skateboarding in Southern California in 1996. A slightly more straight forward punk album than their follow up, "Yank Crime," there are still moments of quiet lulling feedback before full-on guitar gut punches and Rick Froberg's throaty vocals.
Do these albums stir up any memories for you?