Newport Folk Festival :: Sunday Recap

With the sun taking its seat in the top of the sky alongside a few billowing clouds left over from yesterday’s rainstorms, Day Three of the 2008 Newport Folk Festival kicked off in a swirl of cracking mud and beating heat, with enough hype and excitement surrounding today’s performances to warrant standing around in the sun. The yachters showed up early today for fellow pirate Jimmy Buffett’s headlining set, and Brenton Cove started to look more and more like San Pedro Island during Spring Break as the day moved by.

The relentlessly friendly Ryan Fitzsimmons (an OurStage Newport winner) opened Sunday’s festivities with a set of stark, eerie folk on the Waterside Stage. Fitzsimmons’ chiming open chords shoved their way across layers of feedback and programming (courtesy of a tiny Line 6 amp modeler), until they found a place situated somewhere between country music and horror soundtrack. The four songs he played were forceful, passionate pleas about cigarettes, gasoline, crystal meth, and everything between: the soundtrack to small-town boredom and that ever-present hope for light. The fact that he was so polite between songs (even taking the time to thank the sound man, the promoters, the audience, and anything else he lay eyes upon) struck the darkness of his songs even deeper. Complex dude.

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