Margo Price at the 2018 Newport Folk Festival (Photo: Ken Abrams)

WhatsUpNewp’s Folk and Jazz Festival coverage is brought to you by the Midtown Oyster Bar.

It’s almost impossible to experience every performance at “Folk On,” this year’s model of the Newport Folk Festival. Even with the Festival running only two stages (along with pop-up sets), you can’t quite get to see every act. So, I present a few personal favorites, that I recommend should not be missed!

10. The Up and Comers – No, not a band, but the many artists who are playing NFF for the first time. We’re stoked to hear from Sunny War, Tre Burt, Ida Mae, and Andrea von Kampen among others. Make it a point to check out the artists you’ve never heard of – they are here for a reason!

9. Deer Tick/Middle Brother – RI’s own Deer Tick are poised to party, in what may be their last NFF show for at least a while. For the uninitiated, Middle Brother is a Deer Tick offshoot band, comprised of DT’s John McCauley, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, and Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit.

8. Margo Price – NFF veteran Price has the heart of a rebel and the voice of an angel. Super glad she is returning this year. Expect to see her in more than one configuration at the Festival, solo and making guest appearances here and there.

7. Randy Newman – this year’s announced “legend” playing the Festival is Randy Newman. He doesn’t tour much these days, so this will be a special set, likely with guests from the rich pool of NFF artists.

6. Devon Gilfillian – Another NFF “first-timer,” Gilfillian is set to do a special set honoring the 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s iconic album “What’s Goin’ On.” Enough said.

5. Beck – the iconoclastic performer returns to the Newport stage where he debuted in 2013. Expect a memorable set, and maybe some special guests. Where it’s at!

4. Jason Isbell – One of the greatest songwriters of the 21st century returns to his summer home along with his wife Amanda Shires and a possible Highwomen reunion at NFF. In addition, he might sit down for a set with his former Drive-By Truckers comrades, the Glimmer Twins, Mike Cooley and Paterson Hood, who are also playing the Festival.

3. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears – This R&B/Soul outfit will be the “high energy” set you’ve been waiting for. Put on your dancing shoes. BJL will rock the house!

2. Yola – The Bristol, UK-based Grammy-nominated singer, who first played NFF in 2019, has taken the music world by storm. She’s playing both Folk On and the Jazz Festival, so expect to see her talents showcased throughout the week.

  1. Surprises. Newport is known for surprise guests, collaborations and more. And, although unannounced at press time, there’s always a chance Brandi Carlile will be somewhere in the middle of it!

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.