Drive-By Truckers Preach Southern Progress
"Playing some of these songs in an actual fort feels strangely appropriate," said Drive-By Truckers singer Mike Cooley, remarking on the festival's surroundings halfway through the band's blistering early evening performance on Saturday. The songs of the Alabama band – whether they address the ongoing legacy of the Civil War or the struggling post-Civil Rights South – have always reckoned with the more violent parts of American history, and the band’s show provided Newport Folk with an essential dose of national reckoning. For a band accustomed to sprawling two-plus hour concerts, the Truckers imbued their abbreviated set with a relentless punk energy, relying heavily on their 2016 return-to-form American Band. Cooley and co-frontman Patterson Hood delivered bristling versions of working man's laments ("Hell No, I Ain't Happy," "Righteous Path") and offered cautionary tales of prejudiced violence ("Ramon Casiano," "What It Means"), before ending with a snippet of Prince's "Sign O' the Times."