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Posts Tagged ‘Newport’

newport sign be present

Sunday at Newport Folk: slightly cooler, a little less disorientation, a lot more exhaustion than Friday. I’d moved on Saturday, then had a long morning trying to return my truck and get myself down to Fort Adams. By the time I arrived I was tired and hungry, and frankly not at all sure I wanted to be there.

I bought lunch from one of the food trucks, but I was so tapped out I could hardly enjoy either it or the upbeat set from Lake Street Dive on the main stage. (I do love Rachael Price’s voice, and I got a kick out of seeing Hozier come up and join them for a tune or two. He always looks so moody in his videos, but his grin was a mile wide that day.)

After lunch, though – and a gallon or so of water – the rest of the afternoon definitely improved.

our native daughters

I wandered over to the Quad stage to catch Our Native Daughters and was absolutely stunned by their vocals, their songwriting, their fiddling and banjo picking and their bold presence. I could listen to Allison Russell sing all day long, and Amythyst Kiah wowed the (mostly white) audience with the anthem “Black Myself.” Serious power there, folks.

After that, I hopped over to hear Molly Tuttle (a Berklee alumna) and Billy Strings in a soulful, rollicking set that included – to my utter surprise – a cover of Cher’s “Believe.” (It worked, surprisingly.) I got some tacos and returned to the same spot, sitting in the grass with my back against the fort wall, to listen to the Milk Carton Kids and take a few deep breaths. I saw them open for someone – maybe Glen Hansard? – at Berklee years ago, so hearing them at Newport felt like coming full circle.

My reason for going back on Sunday – and the day’s real magic – came at the end: the festival’s closing set, known as If I Had a Song. It was a singalong, featuring too many great musicians to count. But the first one was small and green.

kermit the frog Newport stage

Yes, that is Kermit the Frog. And yes, he cracked a few jokes, and invited the crowd to sing along as he performed “The Rainbow Connection.” Pure magic, y’all. (I adore the Muppets and he is my favorite.) Jim James – wearing a fabulous rainbow-cuffed jacket – joined him, but I only had eyes for Kermit and his banjo.

The magic just kept coming after that: Trey Anastasio (and our Berklee students) playing the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows.” Rachael Price and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band giving us all chills with “We Shall Overcome.” Brandi Carlile and Alynda Segarra jamming out on “If I Had a Hammer.” Our Native Daughters leading the crowd in “If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus.” I was standing in the front area, clapping and grinning and singing my heart out.

One of my favorite parts of Newport was the generous spirit of collaboration – everyone up there, singing together, and having so much fun doing it. Hozier came back out with Lake Street Dive for “Everyday People,” and then he joined Mavis Staples (who looked tiny next to him but brought the house down with her vocal power) for “Eyes on the Prize.”

Robin Pecknold (from Fleet Foxes) came out onstage for “Instant Karma!” and stuck around for “Judy Blue Eyes,” which featured Judy Collins herself in an amazing magenta dress. They sang “Turn, Turn, Turn” together, and then Colin Meloy and the Milk Carton Kids came out to sing “This Land Is Your Land.” (Meloy called it “just as much of a national anthem as the one we’ve got.”)

The last song, which made me cry, featured Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and as many musicians as could cram onto the stage, swaying with their arms around each other, singing “Goodnight Irene.” Our string students joined in on that one too, adding their notes from the back of the stage.

I looked around: sunset light, fans and musicians singing together, banners blowing gently in the breeze. It was a picture-perfect ending to a weekend that embodied the sign at the top of this post: be present, be kind, be open, be together.

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newport-folk-banner

Last month, on the same weekend I moved, I spent two days at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island.

Why, you ask? The answer I’ve been giving: because I am a crazy person. And I might be, honestly. But more than that: I love folk music, and I’d scored a press pass through my day job at Berklee. Several of our students were playing the festival on Friday and Sunday, so I volunteered to go down and write about them.

It was exhausting and crazy and so hot (I got a wicked sunburn on Friday). But was it worth it? Absolutely.

I drove down on Friday with some friends. At the top of my list that day was the all-female trio I’m With Her – both because our students were playing with them and because Sara Watkins is amazing. (I’m a Nickel Creek fan from way back.) My friend Jackie and I snagged seats up close to listen to them, and they were fantastic.

im-with-her-newport

I’m With Her also includes Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan. They were smart and funny and energetic – I loved everything from their cover of Dolly Parton’s “Marry Me” to their original tunes like “Call My Name” and “Ain’t That Fine.”

Their second-to-last song, “Overland,” featured our students, and Watkins asked the audience to sing along on the chorus. “This is for anyone who’s facing some uncertainty in their lives,” she said, before singing us the lines we would join in on:

Goodbye brother, hello railroad
So long, Chicago
All these years, thought I was where I ought to be
But times are changin’ – this country’s growin’
And I’m bound for San Francisco
Where a new life waits for me 

I welled up at that third line, but I sang along on every repeat of the chorus, watching our students play their string instruments in the background. I got to interview them afterward (in the artists’ tent, which had free snacks and comfy, non-folding chairs!), and they were excited and thoughtful and so sweet.

I wandered over to the Fort stage to buy some frozen lemonade and catch the end of Sheryl Crow’s set, and as I walked up, I heard her say, “Let’s soak up the sun, shall we?” I broke into a grin, and joined the crowd dancing to – yep – “Soak Up the Sun.”

james-taylor-sheryl-crow

Then – then! – Crow said casually, “I have a friend who was telling me about playing at Newport a long time ago.” (beat) “James Taylor, why don’t you come out here and tell this story?”

Dressed in jeans and a baseball cap, Taylor walked out on stage and told us about the time he was playing Newport in 1969 and they interrupted his set to break the news of the Apollo 11 moon landing. (No big deal!) Then he grabbed a guitar, and he and Sheryl played “Every Day is a Winding Road.” I could barely believe my ears, or my eyes.

I wound up my Newport Friday at the standing-room-only Highwomen performance – Brandi Carlile and her bandmates brought down the house. I especially loved “Heaven is a Honky Tonk” – their tribute to some of the great outlaw musicians – and “Redesigning Women.”

I’m not usually much for crowds, but I loved the Newport atmosphere: relaxed and fun, with lots of families, and musicians who seemed genuinely glad to be there. I spent a while talking to a woman named Mary Lynn who was selling her gorgeous leather goods, and wandered around on my own, soaking it all in. And one of the best parts of Friday? I knew more adventures were in store for me on Sunday.

More Newport photos and stories to come.

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book culture columbus interior nyc

Gunpowder Plot, Carola Dunn
Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher travels to a country estate to write about its Guy Fawkes celebration, but the festivities are interrupted by murder. Of course, her husband Alec is called in to investigate. I liked the family dynamics in this one.

Rising Strong, Brené Brown
Brown, a social worker and vulnerability researcher, writes about recovering from falls and failure: delving into our emotions and stories, and being honest with ourselves about them. Some great lines, but overall I was a little underwhelmed. Still thought-provoking, though.

Murder at Beechwood, Alyssa Maxwell
Newport society reporter and Vanderbilt cousin Emma Cross finds a baby boy on her doorstep. As she tries to find the baby’s mother, she also ends up investigating several murders. I really like Emma and the Newport setting; curious to see where Maxwell takes the series after this.

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, Misty Copeland
I saw Copeland dance in On the Town during my recent NYC trip and was blown away. I enjoyed her memoir of discovering ballet at age 13 and building a whole new life for herself. A little gushy at times, but an inspiring story.

The Idle Traveller, Dan Kieran
Kieran is a proponent of “slow travel”: taking your time to arrive at a destination, embracing disaster and being willing to wander. This book dragged a bit in the middle, but was still a charming account of his philosophy. Found at the Strand.

Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen, Kate Williams
A well-known yet enigmatic figure, Queen Elizabeth II was something of an accidental ruler. Williams explores the Queen’s childhood, her experiences in World War II and the turbulent family politics that set the stage for her reign. Quite readable, and fascinating. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Nov. 15).

Miss Buncle’s Book, D.E. Stevenson
Desperate for some extra money, Barbara Buncle writes a novel under a pen name – all about her fellow villagers and their escapades. The book is a runaway bestseller, but Barbara is terrified of what will happen if she’s found out. Another joyous, charming English novel from D.E. Stevenson. Found at Book Culture.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

What are you reading?

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jer newport cliff walk

A week ago, the hubs and I hopped in the car and drove about an hour southward to Rhode Island. We’ve taken some glorious day trips this summer, but we needed a proper getaway – a brief chance to detach from work and everyday stresses, and clear our heads.

After much searching, J found us an Airbnb room in Jamestown, just across the bridge from Newport, and we spent a highly enjoyable 48 hours just being together.

We arrived at lunchtime, so headed to Mission for delicious burgers and fries. The order numbers are written on toy dinosaurs. (The hubs approves.)

jer pterodactyl

We spent Friday afternoon strolling around Newport, popping in and out of shops – which, of course, included Island Books. A small, cozy shop with a great selection. I ended up with a novel and a fun notepad.

island books newport ri

Before dinner that night, we walked down to Jamestown Harbor. I couldn’t get enough of the boats and the light.

jamestown harbor rhode island

We ate a delicious dinner at Simpatico, which has a spacious patio hung with twinkle lights and Japanese lanterns.

jer simpatico menu twinkle lights

The next morning, we walked down to the beach after breakfast.

sandals rocks beach

Where there are rocks, we both love to climb on them.

jer beach rocks jamestown

We ate lunch in Newport and then walked about half of the cliff walk, which stretches three and a half miles along the ocean, past some of Newport’s famous mansions. (This photo was taken at the top of the Forty Steps, which lead down to a few rocky outcroppings. We saw a couple of brave swimmers nearby.)

katie jer cliff walk

More shopping, more wandering, a break for some much-needed iced chai, and an early dinner at Lucia – then we drove back to Jamestown across the Pell Bridge. (There’s a $4 toll, but I love this view.)

pell bridge sunset

On Sunday morning, we said good-bye to our hostess, Allie (and her friendly beagle, Skippy), and hit the road, stopping in Providence for brunch at The Grange. (Absolutely scrumptious.)

grange providence ri

All in all, a delightful getaway. Just what we needed.

Have you been to Newport? Any favorite places we should hit next time?

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jer newport cliff walk

Taken on the Cliff Walk in Newport, RI. A long, meandering afternoon with my love.

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april books red orange

Apparently I’m following a color scheme with my books lately. (Even the tulips match.)

I know April isn’t quite over, but here’s what I have been reading:

Things You Won’t Say, Sarah Pekkanen
Jamie Anderson knows the risks of being a cop’s wife: her husband Mike faces danger on the job, every day. But when Mike is involved in two shootings just months apart, their family’s whole life changes. A gutsy, timely book, but not my favorite of Pekkanen’s novels. To review for Shelf Awareness (out May 26).

Do Your Om Thing: Bending Yoga Tradition to Fit Your Modern Life, Rebecca Pacheco
I bought this book after reading Lindsey’s enthusiastic review. Pacheco demystifies yoga philosophy (chakras, koshas, deities) and gives practical suggestions for integrating yoga into your life on and off the mat. Warmhearted, wise and down-to-earth. Loved it.

Murder at the Breakers, Alyssa Maxwell
Society reporter Emma Cross may be “just” a poor cousin of the wealthy Vanderbilts, but that doesn’t stop her from investigating when their financial secretary is murdered – and her brother is the prime suspect. A so-so mystery plot, but the setting (Gilded Age Newport, RI) is really fun.

The Precious One, Marisa de los Santos
Taisy Cleary hasn’t seen her autocratic father, Wilson, in 17 years. But when he calls asking her to come home, she says yes – and forms a surprising bond with her teenage stepsister, Willow. I love de los Santos’ lyrical writing and her sensitive explorations of family, and this one is just lovely.

Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter, Nina MacLaughlin
After spending her twenties staring at a computer screen, MacLaughlin longed for more tangible work – so she dove headfirst into the world of carpentry. A stunningly written, wise memoir about work and identity and building a meaningful life. Recommended by Kerry.

Murder at Marble House, Alyssa Maxwell
Emma Cross’s second adventure finds her investigating the death of a fortune teller and her cousin Consuelo Vanderbilt’s sudden disappearance – which may or may not be connected. Fun to see these characters again (and the mystery was better this time).

The World on a Plate: 40 Cuisines, 100 Recipes and the Stories Behind Them, Mina Holland
Holland gives readers a quick tour of 40 regional cuisines, mixing culinary history with recipes and a little memoir. Fun; best suited for flipping through. To review for Shelf Awareness (out May 26).

Fatal Reservations, Lucy Burdette
Hayley Snow, Key West food critic and amateur sleuth, investigates the death of a local juggler (hoping to exonerate a friend of hers who’s implicated). I like this series, but this entry felt disjointed. Out July 7 (I received a copy from the publisher).

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

What are you reading?

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Practically since we moved here, J and I have been intending to visit Newport, R.I. It’s only an hour south of our house, but for some reason we’d never made it there. Until a recent Saturday afternoon, when we decided to take advantage of the autumn sunshine and hopped in the car.

It was lunchtime when we arrived, and after wandering a bit, we settled on lunch at the Gas Lamp Grille, which was clearly still in the Halloween spirit:

gas lamp grille pumpkin newport rhode island

Our meal began with cups of delicious clam chowder, spiked with cayenne pepper:

gas lamp grille clam chowder newport rhode island

Mmmm. I could have eaten a tureen of the stuff. (Not pictured: warm pear salad with cranberries, walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette, J’s burger, and my spinach and garlic pizza. Amazing.)

Needing to walk off our lunch, we decided to hike up to the famous mansions on Bellevue Avenue, and we passed this darling place on the way:

flower cottage gate roses newport rhode island

(It’s currently on the market, but I’m sure it’s still way out of my price range.)

We toured the first mansion we came to, which happened to be the stunning Chateau-sur-Mer:

chateau sur mer newport rhode island mansion tour

No photos allowed inside, sadly, but the house is full of hand-carved Italian woodwork, lovely old books in leather bindings, hand-painted walls and ceilings, ornate furniture, valuable silver and china…it’s like Downton Abbey, the American version (and dates from roughly the same era).

We walked back downtown after that, and saw this funny (and rather unfortunate!) sculpture:

waves feet sculpture ocean newport rhode island

It was growing dark (and chilly) by then, so we ended our afternoon with cups of chai at the People’s Cafe, and drove home tired, but happy.

I love our jaunts to New England towns, but it had been a while since we’d played tourist in our own neighborhood, so to speak. I so enjoyed hitting the road with my love and seeing a new, interesting place together.

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