Posted Jul 25th, 2015 (8:36 am) by Theresa Flanagan
Newport Folk Festival 2015 - Jim James
Image by Theresa Flanagan

"Didn't happen." Those flickers of lightning that threatened just as Roger Waters arrived on the Fort Stage to close out the first day of Newport Folk Festival 2015? Let's just say they were a figment of the imagination. Just an hour prior, festival producer Jay Sweet made a similar weather warning announcement to the one we heard last year, but he finished it with a directive to ward off the storm with our collective energy. Well, something was on our side, because that lightning never fully developed, and the rain cleared up about halfway through Roger Waters' set. We'll get back to that set in a bit, but for now we'll start back at the beginning.

Newport Folk Festival is addictive. Once you go once, you can't wait to be back again. That goes for attendees and artists alike! It's a bit like going back to summer camp; you come in the gates looking for familiar faces, and find them in minutes. Even before you get on the festival grounds, you might recognize the same bus drivers that have been taking folks from the parking areas down the hill for years.
Our first stop of the day was Bahamas on the Quad Stage. We caught the band opening for Lucius this last December, and chatted with Afie Jurvanen about his latest album Bahamas is Afie. The Canadian singer-songwriter kicked off his set with a D’Angelo cover, then got into some of his own material. We stuck around for a couple of songs, then decided to check out the rest of the festival ground to see if anything had changed. Nope, still the same familiar set up that we’re used to, but we stopped by the Harbor Stage to catch a minute or two of Angel Olsen’s sweet but powerful set. Next, we made our way over to the main Fort Stage to briefly see what Elephant Revival was up to.

Leon Bridges hit the Quad Stage next, bringing on the soul. The Fort Worth, TX native made a great showing. We stuck around the Quad to catch Calexico do their thing. They took the opportunity to pull out some old fan favorites. From there, we took a quick breather to see what non-musical offerings were available – namely food. We stopped by the Late July tent to snag some free chip samples, refueled with some cold brew coffee, and picked up some of Rhode Island must Del’s Lemonade.
Back to the music, we stopped by the as always energetic set that The Tallest Man On Earth, aka Kristian Matsson, puts on at the Fort Stage. We quickly hopped back over to the Quad Stage to catch the start of Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell’s set. We recently reviewed their collaborative album of covers, Sing Into My Mouth, check it out here. Then, it was back to the Fort Stage for the tail end of The Tallest Man On Earth and the unannounced (but highly suspected) set from My Morning Jacket. They got in a couple of tracks off of their killer new album The Waterfall.

Before Roger Waters came on, we snuck over to the Quad Stage to check out a bit of Watkins Family Hour. And we're so glad we did. We got to see them pull out an old Nickel Creek favorite "Somebody More Like You." Back at the Fort Stage, it wasn't just Roger Waters who joined My Morning Jacket. The ladies from Lucius were all but ubiquitous last year at Newport Folk, and they continued the tradition this year. They came on stage for Roger Waters' set, along with G.E. Smith. Additionally, Sara Watkins must have just finished her set when she showed up on stage to play on "Wish You Were Here." Waters also brought on Levon Helm's daughter Amy to sing "Wide River To Cross" as a tribute. It was an amazing set that he closed out with a nod to this year's '65 Revisited theme, playing Bob Dylan's "Forever Young."

It was a packed first day, and there are still two days to go! Check out our photos below, and keep an eye out for more coverage coming your way.

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