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To start, Joe Fletcher, having grown up in Providence, RI is one of the artists with the closest proximity to Newport this year. He and his band of revolving musicians, The Wrong Reasons, have recorded their albums there and in Pawtucket. It was only inevitable that they would someday score a spot at Newport Folk Festival, and based on the way they all worked the crowd, it was a good decision on somebody’s part to invite them to play. So far in their time as a band, Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons played with Folk Fest favorites including Brown Bird and Deer Tick, as well as with several other likeminded folk artists.
His set began Sunday afternoon at the Quad stage, and throughout the set he and the band performed songs from White Lighter, Bury Your Problems, and an upcoming EP of Fletcher’s. Fletcher’s appealing gruff vocals paired in a great way with the whole band’s country-blues style mixed with upbeat rock. With him were musician Dave Hemingway, Greg Burgess (filling in), and Joe Principe. The audience was clearly excited from the takeoff of their first song, “Every Heartbroken Man”, a song from their sophomore album White Lighter. Their performance of the song showed off some rad, bluesy guitar that struck a chord in audience members who responded with happy shrieks and shouts. Burgess was shredding away at his Telecaster as Fletcher sang over and again that “nobody gives a damn”. After that moody tune, Fletcher joked to the crowd: “I suppose it’s my job to cheer you up now”.
Levon Helm’s song “Crash On The Levy” was performed by the band and dedicated to him, and then “Florence, Alabama” was played. As Fletcher introduced the song, he mentioned it would be released on his upcoming solo EP, which he said would be out in early October. In between songs, Fletcher asked the crowd: “Who’s in the mood for a singalong? It’s the Newport Folk Festival. You’d best be in the mood for a singalong.”
Other songs performed were “A Better Place”, George Jones’s “Drunk And Single”, and “Too Many Doors”, which brought the set to its end. He brought a big group of buddies onstage to song and play with him for that last song, so he had plenty of friends to harmonize with for the last few minutes of the set. And so Joe and his Wrong Reasons kept the Quad lit up for what would be a series of great rock and blues-tinged acts throughout the day.