Skip to main content

Newport 2015 Recap: Sunday

Photo by Neil Swanson/WFUV

The big Dylan tribute finale. (Photo by Neil Swanson/WFUV)


The sunny Sunday at Fort Adams State Park included memorable sets from Laura Marling, First Aid Kit (who covered both Lucinda Williams and Black Sabbath), and the very under-appreciated songwriter-guitarist-producer Blake Mills. But besides the lobster roll(s), the closing set, Dylan '65 Revisited, was my high point from the Newport Folk Festival weekend.

Following a fun if overly loud (sound-wise) set from Hozier, the audience at the Fort Stage were ready. The crazy rumors of big name artists all proved empty, but that turned out to be unnecessary to honor the 50th anniversary of Dylan's historic performance here -- the year he 'went electric'.

Gillian Welch started appropriately with a few acoustic songs, including a poetic, poignant take on "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" with wonderfully crooked leads from David Rawlings. Then it was time to 'go electric' as Dawes came on stage, with Taylor Goldsmith announcing he was playing the actual Fender Stratocaster guitar that Bob played back in 1965.

Al Kooper was the other direct link to that historic performance, bringing his trademark organ sound to "Maggie's Farm" and "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues." The arrangements on these songs were pure Americana, drawing on rock, blues and New Orleans sounds too, courtesy of Charlie Gabriel from Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

The rousing ensemble finale of "Rainy Day Women #12 and #35" was pure joy for Dylan fans old and new. As tribute performances go, this was a winner for sure.