The final day of the 2019 Newport Folk Festival was indeed memorable. No doubt, it was the first music festival to feature a Muppet singing on stage … more on that later.
The day opened with strong sets from The O’ My’s and E.B. the Younger, both first time festival performers. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band returned with a rousing set to open the Fort Stage.
There were several new artists Sunday, and a few returning favorites. A variety of styles and genres was on display from the “Newgrass” vibe of Molly Tuttle and The Infamous Stringdusters to the traditional folk of Judy Collins to the more experimental sounds of Phosphorescent. Other performers included Phish founder Trey Anastasio, The Milk Carton Kids and Portugal, The Man.
Once again, at least half the acts featured female leaders, with strong sets from Lake Street Dive, Courtney Marie Andrews and Our Native Daughters. Nairobi, Kenya native Singer-Songwriter J.S. Ondara played songs from his debut album, Tales of America and Irish sensation Hozier brought everyone to church on the Fort Stage where he was joined by Mavis Staples for “Nina Cried Power.”- Advertisement –
On the 60th anniversary of the original festival, and the 100th anniversary of Pete Seeger’s birth, the spirit of the folksinger was very present. The final set “If I Had a Song,” included numerous collaborations on songs inspired by Seeger. Kermit the Frog (yes, really!) opened in duet of “The Rainbow Connection” with Festival favorite Jim James.
The set was a singalong complete with a songbook of tunes including “God Only Knows,” performed by Rachel Price and Trey Anastasio along with “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” led by Benmont Tench. Judy Collins joined Fleet Fox Robin Peckhold, Eric Johnson, and James Mercer for a nice version of the song about her, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” The finale featured Ramblin’ Jack Elliot leading the ensemble on “Goodnight, Irene.”
The Festival ended with good vibes and the message to “Be Present, Be Kind, Be Open, Be Together.” Check out our photos from Day 3 of the Festival from WhatsUpRI photographer Rick Farrell.