Music

Music

If the Newport Folk crowd was scandalized by Bob Dylan going electric in 1965, they would've hated Courtney Barnett's grungy, hard-rocking performance 50 years later.

I'd never imagined a great song poet writing "Getting Ready to Get Down," but there we have it. It's a hard and humorous look at religion, sex and a "risky" teenager becoming herself despite Bible school intervention. I talked with Josh Ritter about this song, and you can hear that interview and the song here or subscribe to the All Songs Considered podcast.

The guitars that open "Rider of Days," the first single from folk giant Patty Griffin's forthcoming album Servant of Love, take a moment to come into focus. They swim up from silence and surface just in time for Griffin's unmistakable voice to arrive and settle over them. Everything about "Rider of Days" is a slow burn, in the same way a victory lap is taken slower than the rest of the race.

When Bomba Estereo began a decade ago in Bogotá, audiences didn't quite know what to make of it. The group was combining some of the most traditional Colombian sounds with some of the most modern electronic sounds, and not everyone appreciated the idea.

Sufjan Stevens told the Newport Folk Festival crowd that this was his dream come true. What he never would have imagined in his wildest of dreams was that his performance was to follow a surprise performance from James Taylor. He was humbled to play after "Sweet Baby James," but honestly, his songs carry a power similar to that of Taylor's for a new generation of folk music fans.

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Some musicians argue that instruments have souls. Guitarist Richard Bishop says he felt a relationship forming the moment he saw a mysterious acoustic guitar in a secondhand store in Switzerland. He's known for playing electric guitar in the improvisational rock trio Sun City Girls, but something told Bishop the acoustic had to be his.

In the early 1960s, burgeoning folk music scenes were burbling up all over the country, and the Newport Folk Festival was their confluence.

The most puzzling musician on the lineup at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival was easily Pink Floyd's Roger Waters. For me, Pink Floyd represents the antithesis of folk music, with the band's psychedelic pulsating landscapes and big rock drums and guitars. Out there and psychedelic, yeah — down home and folky, nope.

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