Skip to main content

Newport 2015 Recap: Saturday

Brandi and the Twins

Brandi Carlile and the Hanseroth twins on the Quad stage Saturday. (Photo by Laura Fedele/WFUV)


Nostalgia and sentimental vibes filled the air when 'unannounced' artist James Taylor stepped out into the sunshine on the main stage at Newport.

The last time he played Newport, it was 1969, he was a "new face" on the scene, and his set was cut short to broadcast the lunar landing. He was playing a brand new song called "Fire and Rain."

Now 45 years later, Taylor delivered classics like "Sweet Baby James," "Carolina in My Mind," and "You've Got a Friend," while sharing memories of his first appearance here. He also played a new song from his current chart-topping album, Before This World.

More highlights: relative newcomer and most-buzzed-about songwriter Jason Isbell, whose lyrical, storytelling, rocking songs were very well received on the main stage, plus Australian Courtney Barnett, who rocked the Quad stage and picked up many new fans.

It was also great to see FUV fave Cory Chisel return to the stage (he's a recent Dad!) with his new 'supergroup' trio, Traveller - that includes his pals, Johnny Fritz and Robert Ellis. These are three highly under-appreciated songwriters who brought a high level of craft and a sweet sense of humor to their brand new songs. Keep an eye out for this group.

Then, following a remarkable introduction by yours truly :) - Brandi Carlile headlined the Quad stage for a stripped-down acoustic set backed only by the twins. It was pure harmononic magic through a set that drew upon Brandi's entire body of work, and closed with a spot on version of "Going to California" — Brandi met Robert Plant at Bonnaroo and said it changed her life!

The Decemberists headlined Newport again, adding some of their most nautical tunes to their set. Earlier Colin Meloy joined the Pete Seeger tribute hosted by Chris Funk where he played a few solo songs to a lucky group packed in the Museum stage. The fun Decemberists set closed with a ensemble version of "This Land is Your Land," and the happy crowd headed back to town over land and sea.