Dylan going electric in 1965. Lomax making his historic archive recordings in 1966. Joni taking the stage after 50-something years in 2022. Newport Folk is a festival full of milestone moments and lots of surprises. And for a brief moment in time in 2014, BGS was a small part of Newport Folk Fest’s long and storied history too, when we presented our Bluegrass Situation Workshop Stage inside the intimate Whaling Museum building on Sunday at the Fort.
Amidst a festival lineup that included such stalwarts as Nickel Creek, Trampled by Turtles, Dawes, Valerie June, Hozier, Jack White, and Mavis Staples, the BGS crew – helmed by co-founder Ed Helms and his Lonesome Trio bandmates Ian Riggs and Jake Tilove – hosted a few “up and coming” acts we were very excited about, singing songs about significant “firsts” in their lives. Some of those young whippersnappers you might have heard of, like Shakey Graves (joined by Chris Funk of the Decemberists and Langhorne Slim), Aoife O’Donovan, Wilie Watson (with special guest Sean Watkins), and Watchhouse (who were still going by Mandolin Orange at the time), which marked Andrew and Emily’s very first – but certainly not last – appearance at Newport.
That big “first” for us was significant – to be welcomed into the “Folk” Family and made to feel like we were all part of something big and wonderful. And it’s that feeling that’s brought us back to the Fort year after year ever since.
Photos by Samara Vise