From hippies to hipsters folk music has run a veritable gamut over the past several decades. But every time I anticipate the imminent implosion of the scene something exciting surfaces to whet the collective appetite. Spanning folks rise and decay, if not directly propelling its regeneration is the Newport Folk Festival. This week’s #TuesdayTop10 is a celebration of this year’s lineup.
10. Deer Tick
What could be less folk but more roots at a Rhode Island festival than native sons Deer Tick? The closest this group ever approached to the genre was their Black Dirt Sessions release, and though they can do slow and heavy better than a fat kid at summer camp you’d be loathe to ever accuse them of flat picking.
MP3: Deer Tick “She’s Not Spanish”
9. The Alabama Shakes
Severely underplayed and underappreciated, The Alabama Shakes stand on the cusp of greatness. And who knows, perhaps their feature in this year’s line-up will provide the exposure they so rightly deserve to expand their status beyond that of the band all your cool friends rave about that you never went to the trouble of actually listening to.
MP3: The Alabama Shakes “Hold On”
8. Jackson Browne
Don’t know why you should be excited to see Jackson Browne? Just listen to “These Days.” Written at the tender age of sixteen then made popular when your parents were just discovering there were in fact cooler groups than the Beatles and the Stones. “These Days,” does not age, it’s as sweet and relevant as the day it was written more than fifty years ago by a man who’s done equally well withstanding the test of time. I’m interested to see how the performance of so many twenty year olds compares to this septuagenarian.
MP3: Jackson Browne “These Days”
7. Connor Oberst
I will waste no space advertising the artist, but what single could be more appropriate for all the miles we’ll be tacking on the rust spotted gray ’89 Honda this summer following the festival circuit? Though your stereo may only be a walkmen hooked up to one of them old school ribbonless cassettes, play “Another Travelling Song” loud my friend, in all its mono splendor, play it loud.
MP3: Bright Eyes “Another Travelin’ Song”
6. The Tallest Man on Earth
I cannot hear Kristian Matsson’s stage name without the scene in Wayne’s World coming to mind where Chris Farley plays doorman at the grungy Gasworks Bar. Shitty Beatles aside, The Tallest Man on Earth is just a clever name, but much like Napoleon this slight European is out to conquer the world. You can learn his devious strategies to climbing the social ladder in this unforgettable number.
MP3: The Tallest Man on Earth “King of Spain”
5. Trampled by Turtles
Trampled by Turtles plays both kinds of music: Bluegrass and Americana! If you were wondering when we we’re going to get around to good ol’ fashioned picking at finger bleeding speeds you’ve just found it. And if you like this track, check out the highest of highs and bone crushingest of lows on their epic latest release, Stars and Satellites.
MP3: Trampled by Turtles “I’m a Target Too”
4. Robert Ellis
Doubting the sincerity of your favorite musicians? Look no further than Houston crooner Robert Ellis who at our last meeting nearly did our photographer in. Hard as tacks and the meanest git-slinger you’ll hear so close to Canada.
MP3: Robert Ellis “Friends Like Those”
3. My Morning Jacket
I’m a little confused as to what My Morning Jacket are doing on the line-up but a sure bet to have the most people moving all at the same time. And you didn’t think folkies danced…
MP3: My Morning Jacket “Hold On To Black Metal”
2. Iron and Wine
Iron and Wine personifies better than anyone the spirit of the Newport Folk festival. We will have to see how well he performs outside the usual small, densely crowded Williamsburg club but the festival crowd should respond well to his particular blend of folk.
MP3: Iron and Wine “The Sea and the Rhythm”
1. The Head and the Heart
Just listen to this stellar piano driven track off of 2010 sorely unvisited powerhouse self-titled album from The Head and the Heart. If the Head and the Heart are half as good live as they are on hard format their set alone will justify the ticket price.
MP3: The Head and the Heart “Ghosts”