Newport Folk Festival: Top Picks

Mira and Gabi are so pumped to be heading down to the fort for Newport Folk Festival this weekend. The lineup is completely stacked, but here are just a few of Mira and Gabi’s must see acts. Will you be there? Who are you looking forward to?

(Kristina is extremely jealous and wishes she could go and see Gary Clark Jr., Rachael and Vilray, and Brandi a start).

Mira’s Picks:

KAIA KATER- Saturday at 11:00am

I first heard Kaia Kater about a year ago and was mesmerized by her powerful voice paired with the tinny banjo, the only two elements at the beginning of “Saint Elizabeth.” I’m excited to see how she performs old-timey folk with her modern and strong female voice live on stage in the making during the “For Pete’s Sake” program this year.


JENNY LEWIS- Saturday at 4:05pm

I hate to admit I haven’t listened to her much, but all the more reason to look forward to her set! Unlike many folkies, I’m not as familiar as with the folk canon as I would like to be, but that’s what Newport is all about - hearing people with a fresh perspective no matter if you’ve heard their whole repertoire, a couple singles, or nothing at all, it’s always an experience.


JONNY FRITZ- Sunday at 2:45pm

What dancing shoes will J.F. be sporting this time? He’s usually wearing a sparkly pair of shoes with a funky fabulous shiny suit. Coupled with his wild hair and beard, he’s a hoot to watch. Don’t miss Jonnyboy.



I have only seen him with his old backing band “The Law” so I’m excited to see this new chapter of music. I have always thought that Langhorne Slim is the most genuine and lively performer, capable of moving the audience to tears in “Song for Sid” and then smiling profusely in sheer happiness after. He is the most consistent performer, so I know that he will put on an unforgettable performance.


DEER TICK & FRIENDS- after shows at the Newport Blues Cafe

These boys are a wild time. Gabi just saw the 10 years of Deer Tick film last week and I’m super jealous, so now I’ll see them this week! You never know what you’ll get from them, each set is a wild surprise. Listening to their gritty voices singing beautiful lyrics with the audience yelling “woah-oh-oh-oh, what a crying shame/what we became” in “Ashamed” can hardly be put to words.

Gabi’s Picks:


Courtney Marie Andrews’ voice (and look) feels very reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt, yet her powerhouse vocals and simple, but beautiful messages are timeless. Listen to the title track of her latest album May Your Kindness Remain to truly understand what I’m talking about.

JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT- Friday at 6:15pm

Jason Isbell writes a killer love song, but, he also knows how to turn personal experiences into social anthems, which is why Isbell and his band are a perfect Newport headliner (check out the song “Hope the High Road”).   

VALERIE JUNE- Saturday at 1:50pm

Valerie June has such a unique sound- it’s a little folky, a little bluesy and completely groovy. Her music is perfect for blasting on long drives and for Newport Folk Festival.   


COURTNEY BARNETT- Saturday at 4:40pm

Two of my favorite releases in the past year are from Courtney Barnett- Lotta Sea Lice, a collaboration with Kurt Vile, and Tell Me How You Really Feel, her latest solo album. There is something brilliant about Barnett’s deadpan tone and lyrics like, “He said ‘I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup/And spit out better words than you," and her Australian accent tops it all off.


BECCA MANCARI & BERMUDA TRIANGLE- Sunday at 12:35pm and 4:10 respectively

Bermuda Triangle, Brittany Howard (of Alabama Shakes), Becca Mancari, and Jesse Lafser, has only released three singles, but I’ve heavily and happily listened to each one. Each song is unique, and together the band has a new perspective, they had me at the first line of “Till the End of Days,” “Maybe god does exist.” I was also excited and relieved to hear that Becca Mancari will be doing a solo set on Sunday- I couldn’t make it to her show at Great Scott this past May and never got over it.