New Bedford Folk Festival ~ 2017 July 8 ~ New Bedford, MA
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Yellow Submarine (The Nields)
Parting Friends (Pete's Posse)
This was a very good day at the annual New Bedford Folk Festival. It was hot and sunny, but not oppressive. The venues we visited were all in the northwest quadrant of the festival footprint. This is the area around the Zeiterion, including the Purchase Street tent, which I am finding usually has the best acts at the festival.
The NBFF uses the potentially misleading term "workshop" to describe a set with more than one performer on stage. Typically, the three or four performers can be individual singer/musicians or entire bands. They take turns playing a song, and depending on interest and level of musicianship, they play along with each other's songs. Concert Going Partner and I started our day at one of these workshops at the Purchase Street tent. The performers were the Seth Glier Trio, Lucy Wainwright Roche, J.P. Cormier, and Catie Curtis. All four were excellent. Seth Glier (who bears an uncanny facial resemblance to New England Patriots player Julian Edelman) started the set with a jazzy number that I did not like at all, but immediately recovered with his subsequent songs that were great, including a mostly a cappella cover of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth." Lucy Wainwright Roche is young and sings beautifully (she has serious musical genes from both mother and father) and was very personable and funny. J.P. Cormier was the real star of the set. He was very funny and sang and played masterfully. Catie Curtis, probably the biggest "name" in the group, was also outstanding. Seth Glier's band played along with Catie's songs and were superb. His band consisted of an older man on clarinet, harmonica, and vocals, and a young woman on an electrified stand-up bass and backing vocals.
The theme of the set was supposed to be love songs, but the musicians all diverged liberally from the theme, until Lucy returned to the theme with a splendid rendition of Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere." J.P., after hearing this, followed up with a stellar instrumental performance of Fleetwood Mac's "Never Going Back Again." I heard both of these songs by their originators a couple of weeks ago in Boston, but I liked Lucy's and J.P.'s versions better.
Next up on the day was The Nields at the Family Tent, which I discovered is free to get in. No festival wristband required. Although the festival wristband remains the best deal in the folk universe ($30 for the weekend!), it's great that they make this tent available to the public, in case a parent would like to introduce their children to live music without any financial burden.
The Nields were terrific. The two sisters (Katrina on vocals and Nerissa on vocals and guitar) sing beautifully together and banter with the audience wonderfully. But the star of their set was most definitely Katrina's son William, who sang on "Yellow Submarine" (see video above), "If I Had a Hammer," "This Land Is Your Land," and the best single song of the entire weekend, "Hamilton."
On to the Showcase Tent and the Celtic trio Pete's Posse. The three musicians (the older Pete and his two young proteges) sang very well together and played piano, banjo, guitar, jaw harp, and other instruments. I got one video of their funny spoof of the traditional shape-note song "Parting Friends."
Then we popped into the Zeiterion, where one cannot get a close seat unless one buys the expensive VIP ticket, and we relaxed for a little while in the comfy seats listening to Catie Curtis, whom we had already seen up close at the Purchase Street tent earlier.
We ended Day #1 at the Southcoast stage with the Mike Laureanno Band, consisting of singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike and his brothers Tom on cajon and Frank on bass. They jokingly refer to themselves as the Flying Laureanno Brothers. All three sang and they had a nice brotherly blend to their voices. They did some covers (a Stephen Stills song or two), and I liked the originals they did. Mike is from the area and writes songs tipping his cap to the history of the area, with songs about whaling and other Fall River/New Bedford topics derived from his own family history.
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