The hottest ticket in music? One can arguably say this summerâ€™s Newport Folk Festival is one of them. Sold out by May, the 2012 edition has a bottomless pit of talent performing over its three days. Itâ€™ begins with a performance by Wilco along with the bands Blitzen Trapper and Megafaun on Friday night before two full s days of music on Saturday and Sunday. This week, Ear Bliss concludes a two part look at some of these more under the radar acts appearing on the Sunday menu. Letâ€™s dig in.
Performer: Tallest Man on Earth
Where from: Dalarna, Sweden
Latest album: Thereâ€™s No Leaving Now (2012, Dead Oceans Records)
RIYL: Bob Dylan, Loudon Wainwright
Description: Singer/songwriter who on first listen resembles an early Bob Dylan until you peel back the onion.
Tidbit: Real name is Kristian Matsson and he is married to fellow Swedish singer-songwriter Amanda Bergman, who performs under the name of Idiot Wind.
Performer: Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman
Where from: Los Angeles, CA
Latest album: World Wide Rebel Songs (2011, New West Records)
RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle
Description: Politically infused high energy folk music.
Tidbit: Morello has been a member of such hard rock bands as Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave..
Performer: Trampled by Turtles
Where from: Duluth, MN
Latest album: Stars & Satellites (2012, Banjodad Records)
RIYL: Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show
Description: Bluegrass band that melds rock, punk, and indie influences into its traditional based music.
Tidbit: The bandâ€™s 2010 release Palomino spent 52 consecutive weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard Magazine bluegrass chart.
Performer: Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires
Where from: Brooklyn, NY
Latest album: No Time for Dreaming (2011, Dunham Records)
RIYL: Otis Redding, James Brown
Description: Gut-bucket soul in the style of old school Stax sounds.
Tidbit: Was a James Brown impersonator going by the name â€śBlack Velvet.â€ť Bradley is the subject of a documentary, Soul of America, that premiered at SXSW in 2012.
Performer: Gary Clark, Jr
Where from: Austin, TX
Latest album: Bright Lights EP (2011, Warner Brothers Records)
RIYL: Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters
Description: Blues guitarist of the first order blending rock and soul into his fluid guitar style and a voice that moves from guttural howl to falsetto trill.
Tidbit: Clark played the guitar wiz in John Saylesâ€™ 2007 film Honeydripper.
Performer: New Multitudes
Where from: various locales
Latest album: New Multitudes (2012, Rounder Records)
RIYL: Son Volt, Monsters of Folk
Description: All-star collaboration featuring Jay Farrar (Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt), Yim Yames (My Morning Jacket, Monsters of Folk), Anders Parker (Varnaline), and Will Johnson (Centro-Matic).
Tidbit: The bandâ€™s album is an intimate interpretation of American icon and musical legend Woody Guthrieâ€™s previously unrecorded lyrics.
Performer: Jonathan Wilson
Where from: Los Angeles, Ca
Latest album: Gentle Spirit (2011, Yep Roc)
RIYL: Jayhawks, Dawes
Description: Laurel Canyon-styled mĂ©lange of folk, pysch and country rock.
Tidbit: Wilson is currently curating a collection of songs as part of What You Need Is What You Have, The Songs of Roy Harper, a Roy Harper tribute album.
Performer: The Deep Dark Woods
Where from: Saskatoon, Canada
Latest album: Place I Left Behind (2011, WEA International)
RIYL: Gillian Welch, The Low Anthem, Fleet Foxes
Description: American roots music buoyed by tasteful instrumentation and solid harmonies.
Tidbit: The Deep Dark Woods have been nominated for Emerging Artist of the Year by the Americana Music Association.
Where from: Detroit, MI
Latest album: Coming from Reality (2009 reissue, Light in the Attic Records)
RIYL: Fred Neil, Bob Dylan
Description: Cult folkie from the 1970s who fell into obscurity until Seattle-based Light in the Attic Records reissued his two 1970s albums made for Sussex Records.
Tidbit: Rodriguez has sold more records than Elvis in South Africa where he is a household name. He is the subject of a new documentary making the film festival circuit rounds titled Searching for Sugarman and about to make its national release.
Performer: Joe Fletcher
Where from: Warren, RI
Latest album: White Lighter (2011, White Lighter Records)
RIYL: Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan
Description: Local hero Fletcher plays Americana music drawing from folk, blues, rockabilly, and country traditions.
Tidbit: Fletcher is busily at work at on the follow-up record to White Lighter.
Performer: Jonah Tolchin
Where from: Shannock, RI
Latest album: Criminal Man (2012, self-released)
RIYL: Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie
Description: Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Tolchin combines the sounds of folk, blues, bluegrass, and Americana music on his latest album.
Tidbit: Tolchin attended high school in New Hampshire and at 15 found himself sharing a stage with blues guitar legend Ronnie Earl. By the way, he is only 19.
Itâ€™s a full weekend at The Knickerbocker CafĂ© (35 Railroad Ave, Westerly) with Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Jonah Smith performing on Friday night and native son Johnny Nicholas back from Texas for a Saturday night appearance. Music starts each night at 9 pm.
The Superchief Trio holds court for your listening and dancing pleasure at The Narragansett CafĂ© (25 Narragansett Ave, Jamestown) on Sunday afternoon from 4â€“7 pm.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. on WRIU-FM 90.3.)