Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Aug 5th 2008 2:00PM by Ashley Iasimone
"It's an honor to roam these hallowed halls with all the fine performers of yesteryear and today," the bearded James mellowly gushed as an earlier gust of terrential downpours along the Newport coast cleared up on Saturday. "That's the crazy thing about these kind of old festivals. It's been going on forever, and all the old festivals are still happening right now, while this one's happening. We're on top of ghosts. They're on top of ghosts. They're on top of other ghosts." He soon welcomed M. Ward (who James referred to as "Mr. Montgomery Ward") from the side of the stage to join him for a handful of songs.
When he wasn't onstage, he could often be seen appreciating fellow festival highlights like Brian Wilson or roaming the backstage grounds with a posse of people. "I saw Brian Wilson last night. That was pretty cool, to stand in the same cube of earth -- but he didn't play my favorite song, 'Merry Christmas Satan,'" James lamented before busting into his own falsetto to sing its melody. He closed his performance with an omnichord solo and then ran off stage.
The rainstorm didn't stop a curious audience from watching an anticipated set from She and Him -- the duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. James had his hand in here, as well, filling in as Deschanel's duet partner for 'Magic Trick.' Luckily donning a unique polka-dotted waterproof rain cape ("I got it in Atlanta at a thrift store," she told Spinner after her set. "I've never seen another one like it"), Deschanel's meant-for-the-stage sparkling dress didn't ruin as the wind blew rain under the tent and she crooned out a rollicking 'Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?' Alongside the seasoned guitar-playing of M. Ward, Deschanel showed off her slowly burgeoning musical chops, playing the keys for several melodic tunes.
Previously that morning, Jakob Dylan took the stage. His sunglasses never left his face as he performed what was mostly a playlist of songs from his Rick Rubin-produced, acoustic-folk solo debut, and it was rare to spy him on the grounds again after his performance. Opener 'All Day and All Night' a highlight, his songs were stripped-down and simple, though early on in his set he assured, "For those of you who were wondering, it is acoustic, but it does plug in."
Cat Power later played a lengthy set, eventually jumping into the audience to join her fans and returning to the stage only to throw out flowers, some strategically handed to young children in the front row. Singer Chan Marshall roared away and worked the stage with footwork that can only be described as a strut.
On Sunday, James evoked the legend of Bob Dylan as he hopped on stage with Calexico to lend his strong voice for a cover of Dylan's 'Goin' to Acapulco,' as he does in the film 'I'm Not There.' The Dylan tune was one of many covers throughout the day, with Brandi Carlile performing some of the most memorable -- a riveting take on Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' and an alt-country version of Johnny Cash's 'Folsom Prison Blues' -- and, you guessed it, James could be spotted looking on from the sidelines.
The festival closed off with well-received performances sans any sort of James contribution from the Band drummer Levon Helm and the Parrothead crowd pleaser, headliner Jimmy Buffet.