Newport Folk Festival: The Head and the Heart

The cool afternoon breezes made Seattle folk rockers The Head and the Heart feel right at home on the Fort main stage on Sunday. Lead vocalist Josiah Johnson took the stage with guitarist Jonathan Russell, violinist Charity Rose Thielen, bassist Chris Zasche, and drummer Tyler Williams. This was the band’s second year performing at Newport, but this year was quite a bit different than the last.

“It’s such an honor for Newport to ask us back this year and especially here on the main stage,” Johnson said. “Last year we were on the tiny stage on the side.” The Head and the Heart formed and debuted their self-titled album in 2009 but re-mastered and re-released it last year.

From the moment the band took the stage, the entirety of the main stage lawn was on their feet and grinning from ear to ear. Lawn chairs were forgotten and new dance moves replaced them. The energy from the band was palpable and magnetic throughout that crowd. I was so happy to hear The Head and the Heart sound just as pitch perfect and beautiful as they did last week when they stopped by the WERS studios.

Some of the stand-out performances from the set this afternoon included tracks off of the band’s self-titled release such as “Coeur D’Alene” and “Ghosts.” One of my favorites was certainly “Lost In My Mind”, also off of the album, that included a lovable fiddle breakdown from Thielen. Towards the end of the set was “Heavy Heart” and a stripped down version of “Winter Song” that opened with haunting harmonizing vocals from Johnson, Russell, and Thielen all together.

Not only was the entire audience at the main stage entranced by the band’s performance, everyone at the WERS tent was relishing in every note. The Head and the Heart is simply a band that wants to have fun and from watching them on stage together for just five seconds – you know they are doing just that.

What really makes The Head and the Heart fantastic is how rich and pure their vocals are. I’m sure that the band gained a ton of new listeners after their set this afternoon, as they are too charming and inviting to not fall in love with. What’s next for the band and where are they coming back to Boston? Check in with us here at WERS for more live updates.

By Jeeyoon Kim

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