a weekend at Newport Folk Festival

I don't even care that it's sprinkling. @nickelcreek @newportfolkfest #newportfolk #folkyeah

Ian loves music. The more obscure, the better. So when friends with similar musical affinities highly recommended Newport Folk Festival, Ian decided it would be his dream to go. We saved up, and as soon as tickets went on sale in January, purchased our two-day passes. And then we found out said friends who love NFF wouldn't be able to attend this year on account of their new baby's due date being right around the festival weekend. I got worried. I enjoy music but I'm not an avid fan like Ian. I didn't know anyone in the lineup. And I'm an introvert. What business did I have at a music festival with no veteran friends to guide us and hang out?

It turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Our friends assured us it was fun and low key, and they were right. Ian did a great job of planning everything. We lined up a room with a fun quirky family through Airbnb, rented a car, and borrowed a bike rack so we could exercise while bypassing festival traffic congestion and simultaneously ogling the gigantic mansions all over Newport.

newport folk festival 2014

Saturday morning, we headed to the park and ride, hopped on our bikes, and arrived at Fort Adams about 30 minutes before the gates opened. We admired the view of the harbor until we were allowed to speed walk to the Harbor Stage, our carefully selected home base for the day. We left blankets on a couple chairs, then went to window shop at the festival store and vendor booths until the first performer took the stage.

Willie Watson: It's like listening to a solo artist from 1920 (think O Brother Where Art Thou). Both you and your grandma will love him.
John C. Reilly and Friends: Star factor (sweet berry wine!). This set also sounded like it was from 1920 (and John C. Reilly's guitar Charlie is 60 years old, if memory serves) but was much more of a quiet hymn vibe than Willie Watson.
The Oh Hellos: We only caught the very last song, but it was the one Ian wanted to hear. And they broke into a wordless version of "Come Thou Fount" that was heart exploding.
J. Roddy Walston and the Business: All rock and roll, and they put on a great show.
Shaky Graves: NPR must listen for a reason. Unbelievable. One of my favorite performances of the weekend.
Deer Tick: We headed to the Fort Stage early to catch Nickel Creek, and heard the end of Deer Tick's set. Not too shabby.
Nickel Creek: When they first broke into the music scene, I missed the memo they were folk, not the pop-twang-country (*cough* Toby Keith *cough*) I avoid. So talented, and so fun to watch.
Jack White: Crazy. Really crazy. Superstar status. Did I mention crazy?

After the last set, we rode back to the car, then drove to Newport Creamery for dinner and an Awful Awful. The food wasn't bad, but the Awful Awful tasted like Nesquik strawberry milkshake and it made me feel like I was eight years old in a good way.

Who says you can't go to church at a music festival. #canigetawitness @newportfolkfest #newportfolk

Sunday, we repeated our morning routine despite the looming weather forecast, spread out our blanket under the Quad Stage tent, and settled in. The performances began with a weather related announcement: take cover in the event of a thunderstorm. We crossed our fingers, and despite a torrential downpour that resulted in us standing for a few sets before finally snagging less comfortable but dry chairs, we had a blast. By midafternoon, it cleared up, and the sky was gorgeous as we headed to to the Fort Stage to catch the end of Mavis Staples.

Berklee Gospel Choir: Who says church doesn't happen at a music festival?
Leif Vollbekk: Soothing music for a relaxing, rainy morning.
The Lonesome Trio: Again, star power thanks to Ed Helms (what's up with comedians moonlighting as legit folk artists?). They're seriously talented and seriously funny.
Gregory Alan Isakov: He was the artist Ian was most excited for on Sunday, and he delivered. He and his band even gathered around an old-timey microphone for a true acoustic set for a few songs. Listen to "Suitcase Full of Sparks." You'll melt.
Hurray for the Riff Raff: Not my first choice in folk music, but great at what they do.
Trampled by Turtles: I did feel slowly trampled by folk music, but in a good way. Fun fact: Mavis Staples kept calling them "Tramplin' Turtles."
Rodrigo y Gabriela: My favorite performance of the weekend, hands down. We were going to bounce early to catch more of Mavis, but we couldn't tear ourselves away. They have a joy and passion they exude when performing, and it's captivating.
Mavis Staples: A legend and entertainer. She was celebrating her birthday, and had lots of special guests, including Norah Jones. ("Little Norah!")

For lunch between sets, we grabbed chicken pot pie and peach pie from Humble Pie Co. Yum. And Del's Lemonade was a refreshing afternoon treat.

The sun is finally out, and we're celebrating @MavisStaples's birthday with #NorahJones #newportfolk

We haven't decided yet if we'll attend next year, but if YOU'RE going, these are the tips from friends that came in handy (along with a few lessons we learned firsthand).
  • Scope out the bands ahead of time and plan which stage you want to see each day. The NFF app was great for this!
  • Use the bike park and ride. Fast, easy, and a beautiful ride.
  • Arrive 15-30 minutes early; when the gates open walk fast (don't run) to your selected stage.
  • Be considerate when claiming spots for a long amount of time. You can leave a blanket and chairs or stake claim to a couple venue chairs and wander (just don't leave your valuables). Most people are kind and respect your space. But if you plan to bounce around, don't reserve the best seats at all four stages at once, then try to kick people out of your seats in the middle of a set. In fact, if you don't plan to be at any one stage more than one or two sets, consider not claiming a spot at all. If you are at one stage all day but want to leave for a set to catch another artist or event, make friends and invite them to enjoy your spot until you come back.
  • Prepare for a variety of weather scenarios; bring a sweatshirt, lots of suncreen, a poncho, and/or large plastic bags, and a Ziploc bag with a spare set of dry clothes, just in case.
  • And about that possibility of precipitation... bring a tarp and/or chairs. Being under a stage tent doesn't guarantee the ground underneath you isn't a low spot that will turn into a miniature river if it rains.
  • Pack snacks and not-glass water bottles. There are food vendors around, but you don't want to get stuck in a long line and miss your favorite artists.
  • Bring toilet paper in a Ziploc bag and antibacterial hand gel. The porta-potties were fine, but you really don't want to get caught without either of these vital items.
  • Make your festival/band merch purchases first thing, before they sell out of your favorite style.
See the rest of our photos on Flickr.


thankful list | September 2014

Just got my @lizclimo postcard for preordering my new favorite book. #bestcomicyet #thelittleworldoflizclimo

01. a morning at World's End with two fantastic friends from Kansas.
02. an evening catching up with our DR trip team over pizza.
03. a ride home from work with Micki and Grandma Judy.
04. coming home to a cozy apartment (after seeing the massive apartment fire in Brighton).
05. a day on Cape Cod.
06. a lovely backyard with gorgeous hydrangea.
07. Craigville Beach.
08. Four Seas Ice Cream.
09. a Trader Joe's location in Hyannis.
10. a quick but fantastic trip to Atlanta for a gorgeous backyard wedding.
11. Chick-fil-a (in honor of the bride).
12. seeing old friends and making new ones.
13. Ian in a new suit (dreamy sigh).
14. the #Foxlanta wedding celebration.
15. seeing a dear community group friend who moved to Atlanta.
16. finally, a good chicken fried steak (New England, I love you but you need to work on this one).
17. lunch with a friend from work.
18. a long walk with a friend around Brookline admiring giant old houses.
19. over a decade of service from my old Bean backpack.
20. a new Bean backpack (it was time).
21. cozy camp socks, perfect for boot weather.
22. killing it for our team's final bocce game of the season (Sarah and I are bocce stars).
23. new drawer liners, with octopuses and whales.
24. finally finishing that garland craft project for our living room windows.
25. a new travel agency at work.
26. a new phone system at work (because it makes our work lives so much better).
27. lunch with three lovely ladies.
28. a tailoring fix on the house from someone who knows how to sew well.
29. the Pomplamoose show.
30. meeting Jack and Nataly again.
31. Jack and Nataly remembering us and thinking I look like Catherine Zeta Jones.
32. Jack and Nataly loving Fingerwarmers and taking an awesome photo.
33. dinner with a wonderful couple and their adorable new baby.
34. a happy hour at work that meant sitting on the deck and hanging out with awesome coworkers.
35. an awesome new pair of fancy sweatpants (that I can wear to work).
36. a good crew for REUNION setup on Sunday morning.
37. tea time: a 15 minute daily break, chatting with awesome people.
39. a new book that makes me laugh out loud.
40. an even better postcard for preordering said book (see photo above).
41. family closer than a plane ride away.
42. two kitties to snuggle on a regular basis.
43. fall foliage.
44. kind words in the midst of big changes.
45. my Ricefield Collective knitwear (hoping for a successful return when the timing is right).


thankful list | August 2014

The Joy of Coloring, with host @scherling200. #reunioninthedr #onlyonecrayonatatime #choosewisely

01. a night to catch up on my nerdy TV show (ST:DS9) while Ian watched the Sox beat the Yankees.
02. receiving the hulk hands award.
03. an awesome REUNION BBQ (even if it is to say farewell to one of our favorite families).
04. a 30 percent discount on Ian's new dress shirt, thanks to a 5 second email search.
05. a successful first REUNION curriculum team meeting.
06. finally finishing Castle season 6 (thanks, procrastination, for a short wait until next season).
07. a chance to flex my Google Doc muscles.
08. a relaxing evening catching up on a few things around the apartment.
09. awesome coworkers.
10. the Gallery at Sasaki.
11. REUNION movie night for The Lego Movie at the Hatch Shell (everything is awesome!).
12. a quiet weekend to prep for the DR trip without a lot of extra stress.
13. a fun hour of bocce court maintenance followed by fast food with work friends.
14. a beautiful, challenging, and inspiring DR trip (more stories hopefully soon).
15. the chance to catch up with our friends in the Dominican.
16. meeting Isaiah for the first time, in all of his adorable mischievous glory.
17. health throughout the trip (no chikungunya!).
18. a return flight that got us home by early afternoon, so we could nap AND do laundry.
19. game night with community group friends.
20. a cheap flight change to accommodate Ian's first day teaching without missing a wedding in Atlanta.
21. the office summer barbecue.
22. a couple of at-home movie date nights despite busy schedules.
23. a visit from dear Kansas friends.
24. a much smaller rent increase than we were expecting.
25. answered prayers.
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