Alynda Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff

The Newport Folk Festival arrives tomorrow and we’ve got “Six Picks,” our list of bands you just can’t miss at the Festival. Of course, it’s impossible to narrow it down to just six, so we’ll fudge a little on the numbers. Whatever your personal favorites, remember that part of the fun of attending a festival is going a little outside of your comfort zone and checking out a band or two you’ve never heard of. Have fun and Folk on!

Wilco Headlines Newport Folk Saturday

Wilco – Fort Stage, Saturday 6:15 -7:30

Wilco is the best rock band of the 21st century. They’re playing Newport Folk. Nuff said.

Hurray for Riff Raff – Fort Stage Saturday 1:55-2:45

Hurray for Riff Raff (above) return to the Festival on the heels of their acclaimed new album The Navigator. Behind Alynda Segarra’s astute songwriting, the band is getting more and more national attention. Their message of protest and social action will undoubtedly serve the festival well this year.

Drive-By Truckers – Quad Stage Saturday 5:40 – 6:40

The Drive-By Truckers are a Southern rock and roll band with an attitude and a message. Songwriters Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood tell stories about people on the fringes. They also write protest music, including Hood’s brilliant “What It Means,” a song about our times.

Nikki Lane Returns to Newport Folk

John Prine – Fort Stage Sunday 6:15-7:30

Highly respected singer-songwriter John Prine returns to Newport as the closing artist to take the stage Sunday. The Illinois native is Festival mainstay, having appeared numerous times since the Festival returned to Newport in 1981. Look for a special guest or two to join Prine onstage Sunday.

 Nikki Lane – Quad Stage, Saturday 2:55

Country upstart Nikki Lane returns to the Festival this year after a triumphant performance in 2015. She brings a tremendous voice and a badass outlaw country attitude along with it. Check out her new album Highway Queen to see what we mean.

A Tribute to Chuck Berry is Sunday

A Tribute to Chuck

We lost Chuck Berry this year, and even before his death, the Festival staff was planning a tribute to the father of rock and roll. Berry played the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 – see the video below. The biggest question now is who will show up to honor him?


“Unannounced” – Each year the festival seems to be adding more surprises – we know they’ve got some good ones up their sleeve for 2017. The official “Unannounced” set is Sunday at 2:25, as well as the highly anticipated “Speak Out” session Sunday at 4:40, the Grandma’s Hands Band Saturday at 12:35 and the “Tribute to Chuck” session also on Sunday.

Oh, and don’t miss headliner Rhiannon Giddens, playing both the Folk and Jazz Festival this year, who we spoke to here, festival champion Jim James, singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, the return of the Avett Brothers, coolest named band Chicano Batman, Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, Mt. Joy, Fleet Foxes, Big Thief and many, many more!