Monday, August 6, 2007

Music and a cup of joe

There was no doubt that Dunkin Donuts was sponsoring the Newport Folk Festival, the pink and orange logos were everywhere.

An early-arriving Rani Arbo found the inside of Fort Adams State Park nearly empty except for six Rhode Island state policemen gathered around the donuts in the backstage Dunkin Donuts booth.

While the heat was heavy and humid on Saturday, Sunday the weather was nearly as glorious as the music. I saw a bit of the Carolina Chocolate Drops on the mainstage, and delighted to their cross-generational approach to old time African American folk music. Much of my time was spent at the harbor stage where the above-mentioned Arbo and daisy mayhem, open the day with an extraordinary set that had the crowd standing and calling for an unheard of, early-day, encore.

Arbo and her band played a soulful version of the chestnut, "O Death" which was later reprised by bluegrass master Ralph Stanley.

Alejandro Escovedo hit the main stage early with a big band, but brought his "symphony" to the smaller harbor stage where the crowd was enraptured (except for one drunk woman who harassed Escovedo who was telling a story about his family and music. He tried to brush off her rudeness, but when she continued, six people in the crowd shouted, "Shut up!" simultaneously and the woman finally did). On the main stage, Emmylou Harris sounded beautiful, as did Alison Krauss and Union Station.

It was a bittersweet festival for some of the Festival Production staff, since the festival (and perhaps the entire company) has been sold to new producers for next year.

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