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Newport Folk Fest Sets from Carolina Chocolate Drops, Emmylou Harris, Wanda Jackson, Chris Thile & Michael Daves Now on

Newport Folk Festival 2011: Harris, CCDs, Jackson, Thile, Daves, Watkins, Low Anthem

The Newport, Rhode Island, music festival season got under way this past weekend, when the Newport Folk Festival returned to Fort Adams State Park, offering the sold-out crowd two beautiful summer days of music from a roster of performers that included many a Nonesuch artist: Carolina Chocolate Drops, Emmylou Harris, Wanda Jackson, Chris Thile & Michael Daves, and Sara Watkins with the Decemberists, plus a special benefit performance by The Low Anthem. NPR Music was there, broadcasting and webcasting full concerts throughout the weekend. You can now listen to those sets archived online at

For photos from the sets noted above, head to

The Boston Globe's James Reed says that "no matter how far the bands stretched the parameters of folk, the music was still compelling and indebted to what preceded it." In that vein came the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who were the first of the Nonesuch artists to play yesterday with their set on the festival's main stage. "Hooting and hollering and dancing," writes Reed, "the Carolina Chocolate Drops revived the art of African-American string band music."

The band, says NPR, has spent its career "revitalizing and refreshing a glorious tradition of African-American string-band music." Listen to their set at


Just over an hour later, Wanda Jackson took the same stage. Representing some six decades of music and a range of styles was the Queen of Rockabilly herself. "In fine, ferocious form, Wanda Jackson was a living link to at least three generations of rock ’n’ rollers, from Elvis Presley to Elvis Costello to Jack White," says Reed in the Globe.

"Celebrated internationally as the Queen of Rockabilly," reports NPR, "Wanda Jackson has lost none of her regal power or youthful grit as she breezes gracefully through her 70s. In fact, she's hipper and more relevant than ever, thanks to The Party Ain't Over, the album she recently recorded with the aid of producer Jack White. Jackson is more than a mere rock 'n' roll pioneer; she's also a bang-up entertainer and a forceful presence in front of the star-studded cast that backs her up on the new record." Listen to her set at


Over at the Harbor Stage, Chris Thile and Michael Daves gave another stellar celebration of both past and present. Their Nonesuch debut duo album, Sleep with One Eye Open, is a collection of 16 traditional tunes by bluegrass legends like The Monroe Brothers, The Louvin Brothers, Jimmy Martin, and Flatt & Scruggs. Reed includes their set among those that "hinged on the intimacy between the musicians themselves," explaining: "Gathered around a single microphone, mandolinist Chris Thile and guitarist Michael Daves stood close together with high harmonies that recalled the Louvin Brothers."

Their album "may look to the past," suggests NPR, "but make no mistake: This is blazingly intense music." Listen to their set at


Emmylou Harris closed out the officially scheduled performances on the main stage last night (followed by an unforgettable sing-along for which she joined the legendary Pete Seeger) and proved she "still knows where and how to locate sweetness and joy in her music, and she remains vital and contemporary," says NPR. Listen to her set at

You can also listen to Harris's recent performance at the XPoNential Festival outside Philadelphia at


This coming weekend, the music continues at Newport's Fort Adams State Park with the return of the Newport Jazz Festival. James Farm, the collaborative band featuring saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland, perform on Sunday. NPR Music will be webcasting live again from Newport. For more information, visit

For additional upcoming performances by any of the artists mentioned above, visit To pick up a copy of the latest album from any of the artists above, head to the Nonesuch Store, where CD and vinyl orders include high-quality, 320 kbps MP3s of the album at checkout.


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