Music 

THE MYTHOLOGY OF NEWPORT FOLK

MU_NewportFolkGods

A comparative look for all you folk-lovin’ lit nerds.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY CONER CORBETT

In its 53 years, the Newport Folk Festival has perpetually challenged the definition of “folk” and inspired more than music out of its performers and attendees. Modern legends leap from the stage at Fort Adams, from that day The Pixies unplugged to the second Bob Dylan went electric.

Instead of speaking to its glory days, let’s get elementary with the mythology of Newport Folk by seeing how the 2012 lineup measures up to their Olympian counterparts.

Zeus- The Guthrie Family ReunionTHE GUTHRIE FAMILY REUNION | ZEUS

Kronos was king of the Titans, the first generation of gods born of the earth and the sky, and father to the Olympians. Zeus overthrew his father’s reign, usurping his universal sovereignty and taking the throne as the ruler of Mount Olympus. Though Arlo Guthrie never overthrew his father, Woody, and Woody Guthrie never tried to eat his kid, the American folk musician embraces the Guthrie legacy and continues to live up to its greatness by making his music a family affair.
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Hera - Alabama ShakesALABAMA SHAKES | HERA

Much like the fierce temper and regal airs of the queen of Olympus, the chorus of an Alabama Shakes song is a powerful thing: Brittany Howard can silence an arena with the steady soar of her belt, and the rock force behind her provides plenty of unpredictable moments that catch you off-guard in the middle of a stanza.
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Aphrodite - The Head and the HeartTHE HEAD AND THE HEART | APHRODITE

We’re gonna go make the obvious connections here and give The Head and the Heart the distinction of being the most romantic band at Newport Folk. Why? Well, their name’s a pretty good place to start, but one listen through their self-titled debut catalogs the trials and tribulations of uncontainable affections and deep longing. In short, love.
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Ares - The Apache RelayTHE APACHE RELAY | ARES

The Apache Relay have made earnest, autonomous, and emotionally volatile anthems their calling card, employing a barrage of powerful arrangements that rip at guitar strings and vocal chords alike. Though Ares is generally looked at as a blood-thirsty jackass with a chariot, we think that the unbridled passion of the Nashville quartet would be appreciated by the god of war.
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Dionysus - Deer TickDEER TICK | DIONYSUS

“Let’s all go to the bar!” Indeed, as that’s both Deer Tick’s and Dionysus’ M.O. Dionysus may prefer wine and Deer Tick whiskey, but differences pretty much end there as they’re both revelry-loving gods in their respective realms.

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Artemis - tUnE-yArDstUnE-yArDs | ARTEMIS

Artemis is more at home running free in the forest than she is on her celestial seat at Mount Olympus, and the same goes for tUnE-yArDs. The experimental stylings of Merrill Garbus cannot be confined by the limits of genre, and her drum loops, ukulele strums, and insatiable beats would get the goddess of the hunt on her feet in no time flat.
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TRAMPLED BY TURTLES | HERMES

If Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods and Mount Olympus’ reigning mischief-maker, was asked to join a folk band, we bet he’d pick up a banjo and get into a shredding contest with the guys in Trampled By Turtles as fast his winged sandals could carry him.
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JOE FLETCHER AND THE WRONG REASONS | HADES

Wrought with turmoil and murky strife, Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons seduce us with their brutal honesty and their stark cautionary tales on White Lighter. Hades’ reign is that of the underworld and his association is one with a lethal edge, and the music of these brutally honest Rhode Islanders could make waves on either side of the river Styx.
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DAWES | APOLLO

Few frontmen have as strong a handle on their inner demons as Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith, and only a handful can make it through  ballads that get all Temple of Doom on your heart with such aplomb. That’s why we’re dubbing Dawes the Apollo of this year’s lineup: he can command his muses with ease, much like the god of music, and the light and sunshine he’s known for beam through their ultimately optimistic songs.
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JACKSON BROWNE | POSEIDON

Jackson Browne is a bit of an earth-shaker himself, just like the god of the sea: he throws himself into his music as passionately as he delves into environmental and social activism, penning protest songs in support of a multitude of causes including Farm Aid and the Occupy movement.
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MY MORNING JACKET | HEPHAESTUS

A sweet beard isn’t the only thing that Jim James and Hephaestus have in common. Both My Morning Jacket and the god of fire, blacksmiths, sculptors and artisans take a hands-on approach with their passionate pursuits: 2011’s Circuital was not only recorded live, but in a studio the band had a direct hand in creating, which was in the gym of a church in their native Louisville.
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PATTY GRIFFIN | DEMETER

Given her propensity for returning to her roots and those of American music at large, the Patty Griffin/Demeter connection is a no-brainer. Both Griffin and the goddess of the harvest reap the benefits of nurturing an endeavor from the ground-up, as demonstrated by the Gospel, country and hymnal connections abounding in her recent recordings.

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FIRST AID KIT | PERSEPHONE

Persephone’s a total bummer half the year, when she’s forced to lounge about in Hades with her gloomy husband, and a joy to behold when she can frolic about above ground in the spring and summer months. The emotional tendencies of First Aid Kit are just as mercurial, with songs that simultaneously embrace gorgeous notes and depressing themes.
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SHARON VAN ETTEN | ATHENA

For someone a shade over 30, Sharon Van Etten’s lyrics are wise beyond her years. The meticulous, mature sounds on her latest record, Tramp, are those of someone who hasn’t shied away from struggle, and the product of a period in her life where she was basically homeless as she crashed with friends throughout the duration of its recording. Athena, goddess of wisdom and courage, would definitely be proud.

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SARA WATKINS | HESTIA

Hestia is often overlooked because she hangs out at the feet of the gods around her, tending the fire at Mount Olympus. The stability and warmth provided by the goddess of the hearth should not be forgotten, and Sara Watkins embodies this beautifully with a voice that envelopes the senses with its nourishing notes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL

FRIDAY 7.27.12-SUNDAY 7.29.12

FORT ADAMS
HARRISON AVE.
NEWPORT, RI

@NEWPORTFOLKFEST
NEWPORTFOLKFEST.NET

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