Headliner Jackson Browne was a constant festival presence, wandering between stages all weekend and sitting in on sets by friends including Sara Watkins, Tom Morello and Jonathan Wilson. “He has such a good grasp of melody and words,” said the Head and the Heart’s Johnson. “You see his fingerprints all over music that a lot of bands play.” His influence could especially be heard in the laid-back L.A. folk of Dawes and Wilson, whose sets Browne watched like a proud teacher. “I’d be hard pressed to name a young man that’s written anything near as good some of Taylor [Goldsmith] or Jonathan’s Wilson’s songs,” Browne said. “These guys are killer songwriters.” He invited both onstage during his Sunday headlining set, tearing through classics like “The Late Show” and “Take it Easy.” Watkins and Tom Morello joined in to close the festival out with “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” a song written by Browne’s old friend Warren Zevon. The folk tradition was strong as ever.
The rain returned on Sunday just in time for Jackson Browne’s headlining set of the festival, jamming traffic off Fort Adams and contributing to the after-party’s late start. Despite admittedly feeling the burn after three days and nights of nonstop partying, the crowd topped their response to Middle Brother with sheer adulation (“I’m totally tripping right now,” said Deer Tick keyboardist Robbie Cowell) for the veteran country singer. Browne began with “Redneck Friend” and Warren Zevon’s “Carmelita”, switching to keyboards as Goldsmith implored, “Turn that sh– u-u-u-p-p-p!”
“This is for everyone that has to work tomorrow,” Browne said before pounding out a rousing rendition of “The Pretender”, aided by folk musician Jonathan Wilson and Dawes keyboardist Tay Straithairn. When asked what it was like to share the bench with Browne, Straithairn smiled wryly and said, “It’s not something that happens everyday.”
Jackson Browne did what few artists dare. A man with seven platinum albums mingled with fest-goers and checked out the seafood vendor, subjecting himself to an unending train of fan photos once people realized who the short-ish, leather-jacketed man actually was.
MOST LAWLESSLY EXCELLENT AFTER-PARTY
Deer Tick and Partisan Records’ three-night benefit series at the Newport Blues Café boasted a set of packed houses (Saturday attracted audience members like Conor Oberst and Jim James, while Sunday drew an all-Warren Zevon covers set from Jackson Browne and spectators like Tom Morello).
More than any other musician, Jackson Browne symbolized the festival’s current place in the modern musical landscape: rooted in a classic period and recently embraced by a new generation of folkies.
Jackson Browne, ahead of his headlining performance on Sunday, added gravitas to sets by California troubadour Jonathan Wilson and fiddle phenom Sara Watkins.
As some of the day’s performers joined him [on Sunday], Browne reinforced a sentiment Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith had offered the previous day: “It feels more like a family reunion than a festival of music.”
The New York Times 0nly briefly mentions him despite the headline.