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The truth about the folk family and photos from Newport Folk Festival 2014

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There was 362 days of anticipation going into my second weekend in Newport, Rhode Island. 362 days spent griping with my friends on when would Newport Folk Festival start announcing bands, or lamenting how much Wednesdays were the worst day of the week because there wouldn’t be an announcement, days spent researching if there would be a Middle Brother reunion (there’s still hope for 2015!!), and enough extensive research that lead me to eventually calling that Jack White aka the White Whale would grace us with his presence at the Fort (too proud to not say it).

Among all the festivals I was covering last year with their huge name brand sponsors, hot air balloon gimmicks and bright lights, I fell in love with a festival that eschewed all the typical and all the crap. I fell in love with Newport Folk Festival and in that way too short 3-day weekend, I found a family. It’s beyond cheesy but it’s incredibly true. This folk family everyone speaks of couldn’t be more real. From the little things – the girl who hands you her last beer token because she doesn’t want it to go to waste and wants to make a stranger happy, to the bands such as Spirit Family Reunion and Langhorne Slim who show up just to play a casual impromptu set in the kids tent, to Jack White who said that it was the first time in 12 years he’d been able to walk around a festival, not be bothered, and enjoy the music, to Mavis Staples popping up with every artist she could get her dancin’ hands on, to the multiple Pete Seeger tributes that each respectively left tears running down my face.

It was only a year ago that I found my people at Newport Folk Festival, the people who understand how momentous the moment was when Mavis Staples, Norah Jonas, and Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes joined together to sing The Band’s “The Weight,” (the best rendition I’ve ever heard) that was followed by the joining of the entire crowd in unison to wish the most beautiful and wonderful lady in the land a 75th “Happy Birthday,” and how mind shattering it was for everyone to see Jack White’s voice crack singing for Pete. 

The folk family comes to Newport Folk Festival at 11am to see a set from Willie Watson who perhaps they’ve never heard of, or pops into the Museum Stage just because. They bring their kids, their babies (even into the beer gardens) because why not? Why wouldn’t you want to expose your child to the magic? As Jenny Lewis in her mystical rainbow set sang on her new song “Head Underwater,” – “There’s a little bit of magic, everybody has it, there’s a little bit of fight left in the air,” there is 10,000 people willing every year to take the trek whether from New Zealand like the wonderful lady who introduced Gregory Alan Isakov or the locals I overheard at Pour Judgement talking about what a blast it was to snag a day pass for Newport Folk Festival for Sunday, even though it was raining.

It’s true, just like they said in Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come and Jay Sweet – you sure have built Newport Folk Festival into something truly spectacular.  See photos from Newport Folk Festival below:

 

 

Elephant Stone

New Music: Elephant Stone’s groovy tunes

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Elephant Stone has got some new tunes for you to amp up your grooviness on this fine Wednesday afternoon. The first single is “Knock You From Yr Mountain,” off their forthcoming third album Three Posions. This tune is different then what we’ve heard before from Elephant Stone – it’s less mellow and a lot more booty shaking which makes sense because frontman Rishi Dir has mentioned that the earlier ’90s Manchester scene was a bigger influence on this album from Elephant Stone than previously.

 

The next song gets deep. Rishi Dhir told Consequence of Sound he wrote the song for Elephant Stone while trying to set music to Tibetan Book of the Dead, much like what John Lennon did for The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”. Dhir added, “While reading it, a few passages stuck out for me: ‘oh, child of nature’, ‘loving in kindness, compassion in life’, ‘your nature in blue light’… basically, this song wrote itself,” Dhir said of the track. “I loved the imagery of one’s soul being guided through the unknown by words of love, strength, and determination.” It’s a whimsical interpretation of a Beatles track with a harsher sound than the previous single.

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ON REPEAT: Duke Evers’s “Seaside”

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Why? Duke Evers is some rock n’ roll from Seattle. Okay, it’s indie-folk-rock n’roll from Seattle but the truth is, it’s really good. It’s catchy: starting on a series of “ooos” it combines with a simple drum beat, a catchy bass line and easy going vocals to loop you in. When the chorus hits, you find yourself understanding the commercial appeal of this band – Duke Evers got that trendy folk rock thing going on and it does it well. 

Who? A duo from Seattle named Duke Evers that are creating some pop-y folk-y rock ‘n roll. They are going to release their debut EP, Handful of Pennies in September of 2014 but you can listen to the whole thing right on bandcamp already. Josh Starkel and Kyle Veazey have an undeniable musical chemistry that translate to a killer debut. 

What? When moving towards pressing play, please find yourself in a semi-joyous mood while riding your bike through a semi-hipster neighborhood and start to bob your head. Additionally, you could listen to this with your friends in a dark dive band where you end up dancing on the booths and/or if not that kind of place you end up tapping your feet under table and exclaiming, “Oh my god, I know this song!”

Fierce Bad Rabbit

New Music: “Dreaming of Things To Be” – Fierce Bad Rabbit

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Alternative folk band Fierce Bad Rabbit from Fort Collins, CO has a new tune and it’s a lovely mid-Monday tune. “Dreaming of Things to Be,” a lazy, flowing folk tune that has equal dreamy qualities meshed with a distinctive guitar line. Chris Anderson, front man of Fierce Bad Rabbit, stated ““The song is a reflection on the moment and observing something beautiful as it lies sleeping in front of you. I wrote it about the peacefulness of a child, the joy of a lover and the security of a mother to child. All the things beautiful at one moment as it passes by, and dreaming of the future or the past and being still within the present.”

The EP Living Asleep from Fierce Bad Rabbit comes out in September. Living Asleep follows The Maestro and the Elephant, who was the winner of the “Best Rock Album” in the 2013 Indie Acoustic Project Awards.  

Los Angeles Police Department

ON REPEAT: Los Angeles Police Department’s “She Came Through (Again)”

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Why? Los Angeles Police Department’s song is great. The greatness of this song is found in it’s simplicity. Coming in at 2 mins, 33 seconds, you can repeat this 25.75 times in one hour which is essentially what I’ve been doing every time I’m not watching HBO GO episodes of Sopranos. It’s easy listening at its finest, a wonderful hazy track with a heavy stimulating chorus.

Who? Ryan Pollie, hailing from LA, who is releasing a self-titled debut album in the fall. This is the first single off the upcoming album. It was masted by Foxes In Fiction’s Warren Hildebrand.

What? When moving towards pressing play, please find yourself in an introspective mood but with the sun shining and the windows open, a light breeze across your face. Other options include laying in a grassy field after a long night at a loud dance club or like me, sitting on your couch with Sopranos paused on the TV listening to your cats fight. In theory, this song from Los Angeles Police Department works anywhere and everywhere.