With the 2016 Newport Folk Festival just days away, the What’sUpNewp Crew gathered recently at Gary’s Handy Lunch to chat about our past and future coverage of the festival – what we did right (and wrong) in 2015, how we could be better in 2016, what information do our readers want/need and shared some great memories of what was an epic 2015 Newport Folk Festival.

For those that were’s there at the festival in 2015, i’m sorry. You probably know you missed names like Roger Waters, James Taylor, My Morning Jacket and a pretty fantastic tribute to Bob Dylan going electric , but you missed the names like Nathaniel Rateliffe and Leon Bridges play and experience the festival for the first time.

Before we dive into the 2016 Newport Folk Festival, join us on a journey as we look back at some of our favorite photos and memories of 2015 Newport Folk Festival.

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Jon Batiste & Stay Human – If you were ever looking for a band, person or group that shows passion, have fun and love what they do, Jon and this band is your example. Joining the very few who have played both Folk and Jazz Festival in the same year, Batiste and his band at people of all ages dancing, singing, smiling and having fun as he and the band joined the crowd on the North Lawn of Fort Adams.

Collaboration/Community – It’s the thing that makes Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals like nothing else you will ever experience. Folk fans still bring up that it was amazing at past festivals when they saw Jack White walking from stage to stage, or Jackson Browne tucked in the back corner of the Museum to catch a not well known musician or Mavis Staples practically joining every single act on four different stages during her birthday celebration. No one person is bigger or better than anyone else at folk, if you know the song you sing it, respect it and embrace it – whether from the crowd or from the stage.

There was plenty of collaboration in 2015, probably none will be remembered more than the celebration of Bob Dylan going electric 50 years prior to close out the festival on Sunday evening. Ok, I lied. Roger Waters and My Morning Jacket on Friday evening was something that you would never imagine, and probably won’t see again in your life.

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp

Hozier – Returning to Newport Folk Festival, Hozier once again was a big hit. Looking at this photo and thinking back on his performance, I fondly and probably will always remember the girl sitting on another girls shoulders while holding and waving an Irish Flag. Hozier would eventually be handed the flag, it’s one of those moments where the connection of artist-musician reminded you how great it is to live in these United States. Three people from Ireland can exchange their countries flag on American soil while people cheer the exchange on and the musician performs at one of the most popular festivals in the country. Tough to put in words, it was one of those moments everything feels so small.

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp

Whatever You Were Looking To Find, You Probably Found It – There was (and always is) beauty, peace, art, inspiration to be found anywhere you find yourself at the festival.

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp

Dan Blakeslee – a small town musician from South Berwick, Maine fulfilled his lifelong dream to play at the Newport Folk Festival, it didn’t matter that the stage he played on was the kids stage… it was the fact that he was given a stage to play his own original music to people that LISTENED, clapped and enjoyed it.

Yes, he’s the guy who designed and created that famous Heady Topper logo. You craft beer fans know what i’m talking about.

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp

This photo is everything.

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats- I can’t recall ever experiencing the crowd go from peaceful to all-out dance party in the matter of a few strums of the guitar. These guys went from Quad Stage at Fort Adams to what seemed like the biggest band in the world during that performance, they return to Folk in 2016, this time around they will take over the Fort Stage.

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp

Shakey Graves – People had a hard time deciding to stay for all of Shakey’s performance at the Quad Stage or go see who would be performing at 65′ Revisited at the Fort Stage, it’s for good reason – this guy is talented, fun and someone you have to see if you have not. His performances in the past have been great, his 2016 performance may have been his best yet.

He’s the kind of show that you drive 3 or 4 hours to, just ask our Lifestyle Editor Jillian Tullgren who made that journey this week to  see him.

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp

65′ Revisited & Unannounced Acts – With 3 hours of 2015 Folk Fest programming be put aside for “unannounced” guests, the amount of rumors that were being spread around Fort Adams State Park in 2015, brought you right back to high school and/or summer camp. Taylor Swift, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen were among the front runners and most popular names floating out there, at the end of the day, and weekend, every collaboration, unannounced artist and the wait…was well well worth it!

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp

While the venue and view doesn’t change, the weather does. With beautiful sunsets, a cool breeze and not (too) much rain; it was a picture perfect weekend at the greatest, beautiful and most historic place to hold a festival.

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp

Roger Waters – Watching grown men cry (and i’m not even talking just about myself), that’s what Waters presence and performance at the 2015 festival did. Backed by My Morning Jacket, it’s a performance that I, and many others, will never ever forget.

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp

Leon Bridges – Watching artists perform (anywhere) at the Newport Folk Festival is exciting, as soon as they start and the crowd embraces them in the Newport Folk way they quickly realize that it’s not just another show or performance.

With that said, this guy is talented. Keep an eye out for many years to come, Bridges is great!

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp
Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp

Elephant Revival – Our photographer Morgan Macia quickly fell in love with this band, but he also loved taking photos of the unique, different and fun instruments that graces the festival stages. Always expect the unexpected.

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp

All in all, the 2015 Newport Folk Festival was another reminder not to  judge a book by it’s cover or artist by it’s look, his hat, bandanna or really anything. The most beautiful of music, singing and talent can come from anywhere.

The best advice for first-time festival goers is to not have any expectations, go sit down and listen to that band that you haven’t heard, some of the biggest and best performances come from the smallest of stages, if you’ve seen __________perform somewhere else – chances are that the performance at Folk Festival will be better, participate in the community – give high fives, let the person next to you walk on your blanket (clean feet only) and be/do you!

I’d like to bottle up the love, appreciation, respect and community feeling that you experience at Newport Folk Festival and give it to every community in the world, it certainly needs it.

See you at the Fort!

Photo by Morgan Macia/What’sUpNewp