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The Newport Folk Festival is a folk-oriented music festival located in Newport, Rhode Island. Now in its 57th year, Blurred Culture was able to send our contributor, Cortney Armitage, to take in the sights and sounds of this year’s, long-running music festival. We told her to snap some snazzy pics, but most importantly to take the time to enjoy the music of those acts that she really connected with and to have fun, be adventurous and make some lasting memories.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3

If an image below is pixelated, please click through the “VIEW FULL SIZE” link for a better view.


The rumors were true. Kris Kristofferson was at Fort Adams.

Between all the acts and unannounced guest artists, I only found out … after the fact … that Kristofferson had in fact performed Friday on the small Museum stage. Fifty years after he had debuted at the festival, he was back; a legend had returned … and I had missed it <insert sad emoji here>. Thankfully (!), I was given the heads up that Kristofferson would be dropping in on the Texas Gentlemen & Friends set. Writing it on the page doesn’t do it justice, but let me tell you … my anticipation was palpable.

The Texas Gentlemen took the stage sans Kristofferson, and after the first two songs the photograph were ushered out of the pit. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able find a spot in the audience to see if the rumors were true but as I walked away a few feet from the stage a couple, who clearly hadn’t heard the rumors, got up and left. I subsequently slid into their spot.

I spied Kristofferson in the wings and turned to the woman standing next to me. I told her what was up, and her head darted towards the stage. She looked back at me as they announced his name and said, “Are you kidding me? I just got chills!” There was an audible gasp of disbelief, followed by a swelling of cheers, as the audience rose to its feet. The last songs performed by Texas Gentlemen, with a phenomenal assist from Margo Price on “Me & Bobby McGee”, featured Kris Kristofferson. Some got chills… others remembered special moments in their lives attached to that song… I cried.

The Texas Gentlemen & Friends Set List :

  1. She Never Spoke Spanish
  2. Dallas
  3. Billy the Kid
  4. Amarillo HighwayThe Beautiful Waitress
  5. New Delhi Freight Train
  6. Sunday Morning Coming Down
  7. Help Me Make It Through The Night
  8. Me & Bobby McGee – with Margo Price

Banditos started off the festival for me and with a bang. I’d figured out how to beat the traffic, parked closer to the entrance and navigated security so that I was able to get to the stage in time to catch front woman Mary Beth Richardson throw up a giant middle finger to the, once again, 90 degree plus heat and tear into the set.

With her hair flying and tambourine thumping, she started singing “Waitin'” and her voice slapped any hints of a sleepy Saturday away from anyone’s agendas. Keeping the energy level up with songs like “Still Sober (After All These Beers)”, Banditos got the entire crowd toe-tapping and set the second day of the festival off on the right foot.

Banditos Set List :

  1. Waitin’
  2. Still Sober (After All These Beers)
  3. Visionland
  4. Old Ways
  5. Fine, Fine Day
  6. Thick & Thin
  7. No Good
  8. Fun All Night

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After the Banditos played I met up with The Suffers’ front woman, Kam Franklin, for a portrait. Franklin is one of those people that sparkles even if there isn’t any light, so it wasn’t a surprise that she was complemented multiple times while we walked to a shaded area for a photo. The Suffers are a band that you might not of heard of … yet … but I’m pretty sure you’ll be hearing about them soon enough.Franklin has all the makings of a great front woman. She has got the voice, the style, showmanship and energy you just don’t forget. With tracks like “Make Some Room”, which I dare you to listen to and not hit repeat right after, and “Peanuts” under their belt, this band might be the inspirational story to come.

On the way to our portrait area, I asked Franklin why The Suffers do a count to ten before they play a set. The answer had a couple of reasons. It started at first  because there are ten of them, and it was a way to make sure everyone was on stage before the start of a set. It was a way to make sure everyone was there and ready to play, and now on tour, they only tour with nine people, so to count to ten is to remember the member who stayed behind. It was a pleasure to shoot Franklin, when someone is as sparkling on the inside as out, the photos are just easy.

No one was sure what to expect from Father John Misty. His reputation had proceeded him. Would he actually perform? Would he do one song and bail? Would he just shit talk how bad the festival was? Would he destroy a cell phone?

Well, he came out, and I got to shoot one song from the pit before getting usher out of it. Misty’s set was pretty straight forward. No mystery. No mayhem. It was just him and an acoustic guitar and he delivered. There was a “gossip worthy” moment when he recounted the story of Chipotle approaching him to cover a song for a commerical, but you can read about that moment on someone else’s blog (or just watch the video below) . I was just happy to fall in love with his music all over again. The simplicity of the set with his songs stripped down to their rawest elements reminded me what an exceptional talent he is and the antics are just that.

Father John Misty Set List:

  1. I Love You, Honeybear
  2. I’m Writing a Novel
  3. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
  4. Now I’m Learning to Love the War
  5. Everyman Needs a Companion
  6. Holy Shit
  7. Bored in the USA
  8. Pray to Believe (new song)
  9. Leaving LA (new song)

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Nora Jones can do anything and make it seem completely effortless. Her voice creates that tone that instantaneously pacifies and calms. When she starts to play a song, we expect her to take us to a place that is better, serene and light. Even when she sings a sad song, our hearts are still lifted because we know that it’s all going to be ok in the end, Jones’ voice will carry us through the rough spots ahead.

She played the piano with the same magical quality that’s in her voice, and it physically felt like she was casting a spell on the weather. As her fingers tapped the ivories, with the tones of the notes floating off into the raging heat of the day, a cool breeze washed through the crowd on cue to give the audience a much needed moment of relief. That moment? Magical.

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Patti Smith. THE Patti Smith.

We were told before going into the pit photo pit that Smith suggested that she might do a spoken word performance. No one was sure what that would be, but she started her performance by singing “Boots of Spanish Leather”. Her voice, unique and inimitable, lured concert goers to her stage.

It was after “Boots of Spanish Leather” when she took a moment to read aloud Allen Ginsburg’s “Footnote To Howl“. His words seemed to swell out of her as she spoke.

“The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy!
Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel!”

She understood it’s true meaning, she became impassioned and she balled up the paper she was reading from, threw it into the crowd and launched into “Dancing Barefoot”. She danced and smiled as the wind picked up and the sun started to set and the lyrics “I’m dancing barefoot / Headin’ for a spin / Some strange music draws me in / It makes me come up like some heroine ” were in every way perfect.

Patti Smith Set List :

  1. Boots of Spanish Leather (Bob Dylan cover)
  2. Footnote to Howl (Allen Ginsberg poem)
  3. Dancing Barefoot
  4. Summer Cannibal
  5. Ghost Dance
  6. This Is The Girl (song written for Amy Winehouse)
  7. When Doves Cry (Prince cover)
  8. Beneath the Southern Cross (with Within You/Without You)
  9. If I Had A Hammer (The Weavers cover)
  10. The Last Time (The Rolling Stones cover)
  11. Because The Night
  12. People Have The Power
  13. My Generation (The Who cover)
  14. Rock n Roll Nigger

Follow Patti Smith on Facebook.