What We Saw at Newport Folk 2017

What We Saw at Newport Folk 2017

Moments of unexpected magic are the Newport Folk Festival's calling card. The festival typically sells out well before its lineup is even announced — but the official lineup is more of a rough guideline, anyway, since the weekend is peppered every year with surprise performances and collaborations.

An unannounced slot at the smallest of Newport's main stages turned out to belong to Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, who played some new music with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and finished out their set by parading, second-line style, through the enormous crowd that had assembled.

Hiss Golden Messenger's M.C. Taylor assembled a few friends — including Justin Vernon, Phil Cook and Natalie Prass — to perform a tribute to Bill Withers' music.

And master songwriter John Prine, who played Sunday evening's last set, brought out Vernon, Rateliff, Jim James, Margo Price and Roger Waters, before a stageful of the weekend's performers gathered to sing "Paradise."

Newport's most dedicated festivalgoers, affectionately known as the Folk, know to expect surprises like this; they're what have made Newport Folk Festival one of the country's most unique and beloved music festivals for almost 60 years.

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NPR Music's photographer Adam Kissick is ready for those surprises, too. He spent the weekend chasing them down, traversing the festival grounds at Fort Adams State Park many times over. (We asked him to check his step counter at the end of one day's work: eight miles.) Below, find some of what we saw at this year's festival. For some of what we heard, check back over the coming days as we continue to post audio from selected sets.

The gates are open — no running!
The gates are open — no running! (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Roger Waters and John Prine.
Roger Waters and John Prine. (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Nancy And Beth (and Shakey Graves, and Nick Offerman).
Nancy And Beth (and Shakey Graves, and Nick Offerman). (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Jim James and Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Jim James and Preservation Hall Jazz Band. (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Hurray For The Riff Raff.
Hurray For The Riff Raff. (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Angel Olsen
Angel Olsen (Adam Kissick for NPR)
High five!
High five! (Adam Kissick for NPR)
L.A. Salami.
L.A. Salami. (Adam Kissick for NPR)
The Avett Brothers
The Avett Brothers (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Rhiannon Giddens
Rhiannon Giddens (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Chicano Batman
Chicano Batman (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Grandma's Hands (M.C. Taylor and friends).
Grandma's Hands (M.C. Taylor and friends). (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Nathaniel Rateliff and Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Nathaniel Rateliff and Preservation Hall Jazz Band. (Adam Kissick for NPR)
"Speak Out!" with Sharon Van Etten
"Speak Out!" with Sharon Van Etten (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Jalen N'Gonda
Jalen N'Gonda (Jalen N'Gonda)
Robert Ellis
Robert Ellis (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Ben Gibbard
Ben Gibbard (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Mandolin Orange.
Mandolin Orange (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Wilco and Billy Bragg
Wilco and Billy Bragg (Adam Kissick for NPR)
"Speak Out!" with Margo Price and Zach Williams
"Speak Out!" with Margo Price and Zach Williams (Adam Kissick for NPR)
It was all a blur
It was all a blur (Adam Kissick for NPR)
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