Special: Folk Festival Weekend Recap

by | Jul 29, 2019

Brandi Carlile

Text and Photographs by Julia Ordog

It was a weekend all about the ladies at the Newport Folk Fest. From the first-ever live performance of the supergroup The Highwomen, to the female superset collaboration that headlined Saturday, the festival celebrated women and their innumerable contributions to the folk umbrella genre and the music industry as a whole. From youngbloods with fresh energy like Maggie Rogers and Yola to revered old timers like Mavis Staples, Judy Collins and Dolly Parton, star after star made their appearances at Fort Adams this weekend to chime in on the symphony of empowerment. 

“Folk Fest has always been on the right side of history,” said singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, who curated Saturday’s female collaboration, referring to the festival’s ties to social justice and the Civil Rights movement. She spoke of the importance of women, equality, and love during turbulent times. 

As usual, the crossover and guest appearances at the festival were near constant. Artists both on the lineup and off popped up on stage during their friends’ sets giving the audience once-in-a-lifetime performances, from Cooks in the Kitchen with Amy Ray; Dawes with Jason Isbell, Rachel Price, or John Mccauley; Sheryl Crow and James Taylor or any of the other incredible match-ups that unfolded over the course of the weekend. And of course, Brandi Carlile seemed to be everywhere, between her own performance with The Highwomen, Hozier, Courtney Marie Andrews, Sheryl Crow, and the festival’s surprise guest, Dolly Parton.

The lineup proved to be strong from top to bottom, with veterans and first-timers alike delivering vibrant, one-of-a-kind performances. Jupiter & Okwess brought a groovy Congolese sound to the quad that kept people dancing, Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle showed off their impressive picking prowess, and Mountain Man captivated the masses with a mostly acoustic set and the sweetest harmonies you’ve ever heard. The Main Stage was a powerhouse all weekend, with incredible performances from Kacey Musgraves, Phil Lesh, Lake Street Dive, Hozier, Trey Anastasio, and Gregory Alan Isakov to name a few.

The festival closed out with a set called “If I Had a Song” – a tribute to co-founder Pete Seeger, designed as a sing-along to unify everyone through the festival’s message of being “present, open, kind, and together.”

Photographer Julia Ordog is a member of the EGHS Class of 2012. 

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