Saturday continued with Maggie Rogers, the first real pop act of the weekend, again showing how far Newport has come from it’s original folk only days. Her high energy set had quite the crowd witnessing why she has been rising so fast in the industry. Turning a complete 180, Kevin Morby played one of those sets that you just want to completely relive over and over. Playing music from his latest Oh My God, Kevin and his band burned the Harbor Stage to the ground for what should have been more people. Jeff Tweedy was enjoying his return appearance, playing songs covering his whole career and joking with the crowd.
At the Harbor Stage you could hear a pin drop during Mountan Man’s set and the harmonies by the three women were one of the best things you could hear all weekend. Dawes celebrated the tenth anniversary of North Hills with a load guests including Jason Isbell, Jonathan Wilson who produced the record, Yola, who stole “When You Call My Name,” Benmont Tench, Hiss Golden Messenger, and John McCauley. The set was loved by everyone who has been to the fort the past batch of years as Dawes is part of the Folk Family that always seems to be around.
Sam Margolis began Sunday on the roof of the Bose stage as people walked in. Having music seemingly all around you at every moment is just more of that Newport magic. The O’My’s kicked it off with some R&B soul vibes with Maceo Haymes’s voice sounding amazing. Preservation Hall played their always entertaining Sunday kick off set and had some help from Nicole Atkins and J.S. Ondara in celebrating the lives of Dr. John and Art Neville. Lake Street Dive not only played their own set, but they did a pop up at the Foundation Tent doing a quick set with a few of the young girls who they raised money for at Newport this year.
Bonny Light Horseman, the very Newport centric supergroup consisting of Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson (aka Fruit Bats), and Josh Kaufman played an unreal set that the packed Quad Stage absolutely fell in love with immediately. Stephen Marley, who scarily sounds very much like his dad, put on a fantastic set on the Fort Stage. Newcomer Nilufer Yanya put on a strong showing for a packed audience. The crowd erupted in joy as she ended her set, showering her with a ton of praise. The same could be said for J.S. Ondara, whose voice is angelic. Watching him play feels like cheating the live music gods as he just so good.
The Infamous Sting Dusters brought blue grass to the festival grounds and their fast playing was mesmerizing. Courtney Marie Andrews finished strong, rocking out pretty hard the back half of her set and ever had a guest appearance from Brandi Carlile taboot. Trey Anastasio brought a lot of smiles and good vibes to the Fort Stage. He played plenty of Phish songs, old and new, and even included a song he hadn’t played in 20 years. Seeing him so happy on stage is always a joy. Speaking of joy, Hozier had one of the biggest smiles on his face during his set. Not only was his set amazing, but he brought out Mavis Staples early and watching this friendship is one of the best things happening in music right now. It’s beyond adorable. He also let Brandi Carlile sing “The Joke,” which was cut from the collaboration set the day before, and showed Hozier understands Newport and how special the festival is.
The Milk Carton Kids had their crowd in fits of laughter as well as musical bliss. Watching the two of them is one of the joys in seeing live music. Portugal. The Man closed the Quad stage down and even gave some time to the daughter of a Narragansett Medicine Man to acknowledge the indigenous history of the area. It was a solid move from the band and they they rocked out for the crowd. Again this was the best of the rest, but even if the special sets previously discussed didn’t happen, the level of musicianship at Newport Folk is one to be amazed at. Once again the 2019 edition showed why it might hands down be the best festival in the country.
Article: Lauren Byrnes & Bryan Lasky
Images: Bryan Lasky