Looking at this year’s lineup, you begin to wonder whether it might have been better if Pete Seeger had gotten his hands on an axe back in ’65. This is a folk festival in name only. There’s a Six Degrees of Separation quality to headliner Black Crowes – “well, Jimmy Page played with them, and he was in Led Zeppelin with Robert Plant, who’s touring with Alison Krausse” – but Newport ain’t Bonarroo, so what is a derivative blues band doing topping the bill?
Sunday, Jimmy Buffett takes a break from gouging yuppies to do a stripped-down set, which is promising in a fish out of water way. Speaking of fish, or Phish, to be precise, Trey Anastasio alone on stage should be worth a look.
OK, it was probably time for a change from the endless years of the Indigo Girls. But the full-tilt Gilded Age aspect of this so-called “Folk Festival” is truly irksome. Is it appropriate to lob grapes and other fresh produce at the nouveau riche who shell out $500 for a chair on prime lawn space? That’s the going rate for VIP seating, which will eclipse half the main seating area.
In a world where scalpers have billboards, this is standard operating procedure. I suppose next year’s headliners will be the Eagles and an unplugged version of Aerosmith.
Just don’t call it the Newport Folk Festival.