Paul Simon & Joni Mitchell Play Surprise Sets At Newport Folk Festival

PAUL SIMON

Paul Simon played a surprise four-song set on Saturday (July 23rd) during the Newport Folk Festival. Rolling Stone reported Simon appeared during a tribute set to him, led by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.

At various points, Simon was joined by Jerry Douglas on guitar, Rhiannon Giddens, Lucius, Rateliff, and Willie Nelson‘s son Lukas Nelson — whom Simon introduced as “an old family friend.” Simon performed “Graceland,” “American Tune,” and “The Boxer” before closing with a solo take on the Simon & Garfunkel standard, “The Sound Of Silence.”

The semi-retired 80-year-old Simon last performed last April 6th at L.A.’s Hollywood Pantages Theatre for the tribute concert — Homeward Bound: A Grammy Salute To The Songs Of Paul Simon.

Although Paul Simon calls on his life experiences for his material, he admitted that it sometimes it takes time to name and number whom he exactly is writing about: “Once I knew more about what I was writing, then I began to recognize the characters; ‘Oh, that’s this person in my life, that’s this event, or this is somebody I know.’ So in a sense the snapshot analogy is so. More like a movie than a snapshot, because they seem to be stories. Quite often the songs are stories.”

JONI MITCHELL

Also on Sunday (July 24th) Joni Mitchell — still recovering from a stroke — played her first Newport set since 1969. The legendary singer / songwriter who was sitting on a throne, was joined by Brandi Carlile, Blake Mills, Lucius, Wynonna Judd, Celisse, Taylor Goldsmith, and Marcus Mumford among others.

Mitchell performed “Both Sides Now,” “A Case Of You” with Marcus Mumford and Brandi Carlile, after which, Mitchell took an extended guitar solo, “Big Yellow Taxi” with Brandi Carlile, “The Circle Game” with Wynonna Judd, a cover of George Gershwin‘s “Summertime,” Frankie Lyman & The Teenagers‘ “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” before closing with the Blue highlight “Carey” and “Just Like This Train.”

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