Even though Twangville has been lucky enough to cover many Newport Folk Festivals in the past, the lineup this year has made some great choices to get new faces in front of music fans. The lineup is filled with both new acts garnering critical buzz and underappreciated gems. It’s that dedication to amazing and innovative artists from beginning to end all three days of the festival that keep it so in demand. Newport, this year, includes artists with buzz, underappreciated artists, and even artists who’ve played Newport before but haven’t gotten the attention they deserve.
On that note, I’ll start with the one artist that was at Newport Folk Festival last year inside the Museum (a tiny stage with few seats). I’ve been a huge fan of Courtney Marie Andrews for a long time but I couldn’t get in to see her. She released another great album this year and I’m thrilled that the organizers had the good sense to bring her back to an outside stage. Her songwriting is amazing and hopefully she’ll keep building a following.
Another underappreciated singer/songwriter is Gregory Alan Isakov. He’s been releasing records since the early 2000s and each one shows a meticulous lyrical sense and amazing ethereal aesthetic. Isakov has a gentle voice that easily inhabits the cavernous spaces he creates. He uses acoustic instruments (guitars, banjos, fiddles) and often creates wide open symphonic sounds. He did, in fact, release a record with the Colorado Symphony which is an ideal match.
Also, Newport Folk Festival is completely on top of several amazing female singer/songwriter acts. Lucy Dacus, Haley Heynderickx, Adia Victoria, I’m With Her, and the Highwomen are part of an amazing group of female led groups this year. I’m With Her have been around for a while. Dacus, Heynderickx, and Victoria are certainly up-and-coming and bring critical acclaim and buzz. From the finger-picked, to the electric, country, and blues styles, these women run the gamut of the acts represented at the festival. The Highwomen couldn’t be newer and more exciting (including Brandi Carlisle, Amanda Shires, Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby). This will be their first performance together. Their first record, self-titled, will come out September 6. Here’s a little sample.
This year Newport Folk Festival has maintained a high level of quality in the newer artists who will be newly appreciated. Hopefully, they’ll get the credit they deserve.
About the author: Jeff is a teacher in the Boston area. When not buried correcting papers, Jeff can be found plucking various stringed instruments and listening to all types of americana music.