Fort Adams State Park, Newport, Rhode Island
July 28, 2012
Review and Photos by Bluebird
Patty Griffin can do anything.
I first saw her at the House of Blues in Boston (2011) with the Band of Joy. Harmonizing with Robert Plant, playing with Darrell Scott and ruckusing with Buddy Miller, her voice was faithfully doing what was best for the bluegrass, slow core, and Zeppelin remake songs that they engaged her to take on. She handled this record and the live set beautifully, with vocal control and wisdom.
When I left that show, after almost passing out, because I was reeling from the image of Robert Plant, hovering over us in the front row, singing "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down" and "Ramble On," I had two thoughts. First, my husband who witnessed this, will never be the same again. And second, I knew I had to pursue Patty Griffin's music outside of this context, because I could imagine her solo work would be a journey to enjoy.
Patty Griffin performed on the Fort Stage, the first day of the Newport Folk Festival (2012). Originally from Old Town, Maine, and spending early career time in Boston, she was announced as 'local to this area who now lives in Texas.' The performers all day had commented about the beautiful view of this main stage. She came to the mic and quietly said to the crowd, "You didn't think of a song about a bridge did you?"
The set started off strong and quickly took the attention of the restless crowd. Patty stomped her way through the accidental feedback that hit her equipment and just kept going. The song "Flaming Red" seemed appropriate for the moment, as she casually fixed the problem without missing a beat and said, "I had the wrong plug in ..."
Patty Griffin is working on a new studio album called, American Kid. She said at Folk Fest,
"The new record will feature the North Mississippi All-stars ... I've asked them to put away their amps ..."
She played a song from this album, prefacing that it "had nothing against the people from Florida, it was just that she enjoyed other parts of the country very much and often people dream of moving to the Sunshine State to retire." "Please Don't Let Me Die in Florida," had a sharp wit, folk statements, mixed with blues. It was a great song.
"We love you!"
"Love you too!" She said.
Patty Griffin took her guitar and got ready for the next song. She leaned over the mic and said, "Someone just said congratulations, because there is a rumor that I got married!" "All I have to say is that we are saving up to get a good D.J. for the wedding!" Those who have been following her career lately know that she is referring to the ongoing mystery of her relationship with Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, who has been recording solo and collaborative projects since Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980 after John Bonham's death. Plant and Griffin toured together with the Band of Joy. Rumors earlier this year that they were married, and then talk again lately that these suspicions were not true, lead to more rumors that they were officially married in July. Here in Newport, smoother than the boats in America's Cup, Griffin sailed out her sly remarks showing style, grace and camaraderie with the fans, without sacrificing her privacy. The crowd roared with laughter, while Patty just kept playin her guitar.
Like the colleagues, sit-ins and fans who made their way to this multi-generational folk fest, Griffin makes no apologies for expressing the real. "Waiting For A Child To Come Home." was recorded with Mavis Staples and The Tri-City Singers. Singing "Cold As It Gets" "To the end of the Earth, I search for your face, frozen in the wood, blew out the light in us all ..." the audience was stunned, Patty says, "Well, that was a happy little number ... !"
In the similar vein, Patty Griffin talked about writing love songs. "Writing a love song is next to impossible. Especially a good one." Then, one glorious sunny day, she finally decided to write one, as she described how the light streamed onto her beloved who was resting with her so casually. "Heavenly Day" was 'The only love song I ever wrote." Was it for the golden haired, globally adored Robert Plant? No.
As I said, Patty Griffin can do anything. She announced that "Heavenly Day" was written for her dog. "... I was with my dog and it was a great spring day. I wrote this for my dog." "Go Wherever You Want To Go" was a song to her father. "I loved him, he was a great guy." She said.
After this sentimental sharing of stories and family memories, she tore into a song 'when I was pissed off at a political movement in this country and now it's a good song to stick on anything ..." "No Bad News" rocked the field and put Griffin in her zone.. "The Earth is Shaking," had her turning her guitar fastidious and intense, as if in a trance. A few more notes and the crowd was singing. She told a story of "pictures of my nephew ... "Making Pies."
In the innocent spirit of her wide eyed child singer, the one portrayed in her record, "Children Running Through," her success at winning this crowd today was overshadowed by her humility and graciousness. "My first gig all by myself in FOREVER!" "I will see you all somewhere soon, I hope." She closed the set with a song from her new upcoming record, American Kid, "I'm Gonna Miss You When You're Gone." This ended on the sweetest note.
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