This weekend I attended my third Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island. I reviewed my previous two visits there, in 2012 and 2014, on this blog, and ended the latter post by expressing the hope that I return every year. So far, so good.
With just 10,000 people in attendance, Newport is one of the smallest festivals out there. It’s great because it doesn’t overcrowd, and it takes place in a state park surrounded by the Narraganset Bay. I don’t usually use words like “stunning” or “breathtaking” to describe scenery, because I’m too manly, but those words definitely apply here.
You won’t hear top 40 artists in Newport. Nor is it exclusively down-by-the-river-strumming-your-banjo folk. It also welcomes artists from related genres like alternative country, indie folk, folk punk and rock. For example, Jack White headlined one night last year. This year, Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd, capped off one of the evenings.
This year’s festival also included some great contemporary artists like the Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, Hozier, Brandi Carlile, Laura Marling, First Aid Kit, Lord Huron, the Lone Bellow, Courtney Barnett, Angel Olsen and Strand of Oaks.
And to top it off, a special “unannounced artist” turned out to be James Taylor.
I never quite had “see James Taylor” on my bucket list, but in retrospect, it should have been. Therefore, I checked off a bucket list item this weekend.
It’s my own bucket list, I have the right to modify it on the go. Haters, come at me.
My attendance this year almost didn’t happen. After booking a hotel room six months in advance, just as a safety net, I still didn’t have a friend to accompany me there as of four days prior to the festival. Or tickets. And it had already sold out.
While I have no problem attending concerts alone, I have never attended a multiple-day festival alone. I could probably keep myself entertained, but I imagine it would become quite lonely really fast. Not to mention depressing.
But as fate will have it, a friend who I reached out to on short notice, and who originally told me he couldn’t come, changed his mind and decided to go. It appears the heavens just want me to be at the Newport Folk Festival. Who am I to argue?
I’m a big advocate of finding time to enjoy life. It sounds simple, but I think it’s something that a lot of people forget to do.
And despite my time away, I managed to hear all about the Taylor Swift apology tweet to Nicki Minaj, ending their brief social media spat. So I didn’t lose touch with what really matters.
I think next year I’ll invite Taylor Swift with me to the Newport Folk Festival. She could use a drama-free weekend getaway.
She’ll probably say yes.