Rocking at Newport Folk Festival

One of the tips for a happy life that I’ve adopted and never looked back from: spend money on experiences, paid for in advance, with the people you love.

With that completely in mind, I broke the bank this Christmas to buy my parents tickets to go to the Newport Folk Festival with me. None of us had ever been, but dad had read about its role in musical history and my coworker Theresa goes every year and raves about it.

After months of anticipation, we finally hit the fest this weekend – and it was everything we wanted it to be and more.

We sat in the sunshine, we rested in the shade, we ate delicious food and shopped at the craft stalls and through it all, enjoyed amazing music. My favorite part: there was a raffle to win a Martin guitar and all you had to do was play a song on a small stage at their booth. Done and done – dad and I started the day by playing a Beatles song and now we can basically retire saying we “played at Newport.” (We didn’t win a guitar but we got free string and I won a t-shirt!).

Here’s what you should know if you’re thinking of checking out the Newport Folk Festival – and you should!!


  • Buy a parking pass when you buy your tickets. It was about $20 and made parking super easy. Alternatively, you can take a ferry from downtown Newport.
  • Book your hotel 6+ months in advance. That stuff fills up, no joke! We ended up staying 45 mins away and considered that a success.
  • Watch the podcasts and playlists as the festival gets nearer. NFF puts together a bunch of great materials, including a Spotify playlist of each artists’ greatest hits so you can figure out who you actually want to see, since the schedules overlap. Also, the app is great for planning and day-of – don’t arrive without it!
  • Explore the mansions the day before – whether you hit 1 or 5, it’s a great contrast to a day of music and a cool relic of the gilded age.


  • Pack a wide brimmed hat and your own water bottle – there are lots of places to refill and it’s critical to stay hydrated when you’re outside all day. Also wet wipes in case the bathrooms run out of hand sanitizer.

  • In theory there are rules about chair height. In practice, people brought really nice, normal height chairs. Decide if you want to go low or break the rules, and bring a blanket either way – use it to claim your space at the Fort stage as soon as you get through the gates.

  • Keep sunscreen on you constantly. There’s very little shade and it’s easy to get burnt, especially if you’re putting water on yourself to cool off!
  • Arrive early. We pulled into the parking lot at 9:10 (gates open at 10) and were able to breeze through security so we were able to enter as soon as the gates officially opened.
  • Check out the craft stalls and souvenir stands early – since we went on the last day of the festival, things were getting sold out!
  • Also check out the actual musical venues early so you know what the options are. The best set we saw was JP Harris, who played for 25 minutes in a small space tucked into the fort! Others rave about the museum stage and the eclectic crowd that passes through there. Know the possibilities even if you end up staying at one place all day.

I would say more about the music – Ian Fitzgerald, Alabama Shakes, the chair massage I got while Glen Hansard was singing – but really, the thrill for me was having a new adventure with my awesome parents. Onward to the next one!

Mic: check!

I’ve never been shy about taking the stage. I remember being in third grade and singing the solo in the Hanukkah song in an elementary school holiday concert.  As I got older, I sang with choirs, played my clarinet in band, even tooled around on a bass guitar in jazz band.  I had a few lines as a lovely lady in Les Mis and was a Bali Ha’i dancer in South Pacific.  But since I didn’t take up acoustic guitar until after I’d graduated from college, I never had a chance to play in public – until this weekend.

I headed back to my hometown in NH for the weekend to play at the local (read: only) coffeeshop’s open mic night. The shop itself is related to my theatrical past – it’s housed in the old train station, which was actually the hardware store when I was growing up. Katie and I used to go there about twice a week (or day) to buy paint for flats and signs and furniture. In the audience were old friends, my middle school shop teacher, the town librarians, etc. So much hometown love.


And SO MUCH FUN.  I played two songs – cut out the middle one because the program was running a little long.  First my dad and I sang “Jolene” by Dolly Parton – I was inspired by a first date I went on a few weeks ago where I heard a woman kill it. Thanks for taking me to that bar, Ryan! And then I sang and played “You and I” by Lady Gaga alone – an anthem to my “cool New Hampshire guy.”


After all that time of planning, and all that hype, it was so much easier than I expected.  And so much more exhilarating. I added this to my five year plan because it seemed like something good to try “before I got too old” but actually, it struck a serious chord (teehee) in my heart. I think I’m going to have to look at going bigger… maybe even seeing if there are any bands that need guitarists…?

Lesson learned: always push yourself and try new things – it might not only make you tick, but also inspire some further desire!

So much love to my mom and sis for cheering me on, bro-in-law Wes for also playing for the first time, cousin Sophie and uncle Andy for rocking it, dad for always playing by my side, and Ashley, Zak, and Rachael for coming to cheer me on.

Now, onward to the rest of the fun adventures on my list, and all those I haven’t even thought to write down!


Music Monday: rolling into the new year on a wrecking ball

Just because the year’s over doesn’t mean we’re safe from the earworms that defined our year – those dudes at the thrift shop, that chick on the wrecking ball, the techno beats that wake us up and get us rocking.  Having a Spotify account this year made me so much more hip as I could listen to these songs as they came out.  What will 2014 hold?  Dare I predict… a lot of Beyonce?


Music Monday: When I’m Gone

This is my latest jam – for sunny mornings, rainy afternoons, days when I’m missing camp and our own game of cups (ours involves passing it down the line at increasing speed – take that, Anna Kendrick!). I love the musical background and her voice. Learning to play this is my next musical adventure – stay tuned to see how it goes!

Inspiration for this “Monday”

As we’re all getting back into the flow of work, I hope you find something you can be excited about – even if it’s only halfway as thrilling as this kiddo thinks this song is. My favorite part: her big sister laughing in the background. Love it.

More later – life has been mega busy but good, now that I’m over my latest cold and dug out of last week’s giant snowstorm!