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Newport Folk Festival 2017: 10 Best Things We Saw

New bands thrilled alongside Newport mainstays Wilco, Fleet Foxes and the Avett Brothers

Newport Folk Festival proves year after year to be one of the most consistently exciting music festivals in the country, one that’s become just as invested, as of late, in amplifying and establishing new and young voices as it is in preserving and honoring old ones. This year’s festival once again presented an ever-expanding definition of folk music, from the Crescent City fusion of Preservation Hall Jazz Band, to the riotous blues-funk of Seratones, to the London soul-poetry of British singer-songwriters L.A. Salami and Michael Kiwanuka. Beyond the handful of thrilling, fan favorite sets from Newport mainstays like Wilco, Fleet Foxes and the Avett Brothers, here are the 10 best things we saw.

newport folk festival john prine roger waters jim james lucius

Taylor Hill/WireImage

John Prine Bids Newport Farewell With Some Famous Friends

“With friends like that, who needs pizza?” John Prine asked during his star-studded Sunday evening performance, in which the singer invited up a slew of special guests to accompany him on his country-folk classics. Prine’s festival-closing show was an exemplary model of old-fashioned folk songwriting, with the 70-year-old singer holding the audience in rapt attention, often merely by himself on acoustic guitar. Justin Vernon dropped in for “(Bruised Orange) Chain of Sorrow,” Jim James duetted on a touching take of “All the Best” and Margo Price accompanied Prine on “In Spite of Ourselves,” all before Roger Waters stunned the crowd by appearing, unannounced, to share the stage for a tender rendition of “Hello in There.” Prine, for his part, ran through highlights from his 2004 masterpiece Fair & Square, sang classics “Angel From Montgomery” and “Sam Stone” (with Nathaniel Rateliff) and even dedicated his offbeat protest anthem, “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore,” to “our current Fuhrer: Donaldo Benito Trumpitini.” To end 2017’s festival, Prine invited out several dozen of this weekend’s performers to sing along to “Paradise,” ending a weekend of feel-good moments on a loving high point.

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