Newport Folk Festival, Aug 2008 :: Sunday Preview

Yesterday we told you about who we’re planning on seeing on the first day of this year’s Newport Folk Festival. Here’s what it's looking like we’ll be doing on day two. If you’re going, drop us a line in the comments and tell us who you’re going to see.

Levon Helm :: Helm’s swampy Dirt Farmer won the Grammy for Best Folk Album this year, though the former drummer for the Band didn’t need any excuse to celebrate; Dirt Farmer was recorded following a long battle with throat cancer that saw him miraculously regain 80% of his singing voice. And though his voice warbles like Garth Hudson’s Hammond B-3 when he talks, the singing on Dirt Farmer is some of the most moving, soulful stuff of last or any year. Helm would be the highlight of the festival even if he were only playing tracks from this record; throw in the Band’s back catalog, and Helm’s set is bound to be rock for the ages.

The Avett Brothers :: Bringing the same punky spirit to folk and bluegrass as the Felice Brothers, North Carolina’s prolific Avett clan have seen their national profile rise considerably in recent years. With that has come something of a smoothing in their style that’s every bit as engaging as their early work while appealing to a somewhat broader audience, landing the group a deal with American/Columbia.

Calexico :: Like the Avetts, Calexico’s punkier background has lately given way to a dedication to pop songcraft. Still, though, the band couldn’t have chosen a better name for themselves; equal parts California and Mexico, they are the unspoken sound of spaghetti westerns and are more suited to west Texas in the scorching heat. Seeing them in the spread of the Bay should be interesting.

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