Rachel Horn

"If you came to this set looking to be cheered up, you're screwed," John Paul White deadpanned from the stage at Newport. The comment drew laughs from the assembled crowd, but there was a wry truth to it: Eerie harmonies and Kelli Jones' fiddle shrouded White's tender songs in a dark, mournful beauty.

"These are my sisters," said Natalie Closner, introducing the song "Wind" during Joseph's Saturday-afternoon set at the Newport Folk Festival. "This is about that."

It's often a sparse crowd that turns up to see an 11 a.m. set at a music festival — but not so at the Newport Folk Festival. When Julia Jacklin took the stage on Saturday morning, she seemed shocked to be faced with a tent full of attentive onlookers. (If it were any other festival, she pointed out, she'd probably be playing to an audience of four — and four hung-over people, at that.)

"Folk festival" is a bit of a misnomer for the current form of the event where Bob Dylan shocked crowds by plugging in five decades ago; the Newport Folk Festival now warmly embraces talent that leans toward the louder, more electrified end of the folk-rock spectrum.

I heard more than one person at Newport marvel at the fact that Pinegrove had been booked for the smallest of the festival's three main stages. The day before its Newport set, the Montclair, N.J., band had played the main stage at the Panorama Music Festival, where headliner Frank Ocean would perform later that day. For a band that still practices in one member's parents' basement, Pinegrove has accumulated a huge, enthusiastic fan base over the year since it released its latest studio album, Cardinal.

Folk music is a genre commonly associated with protest, and the performers at Newport this year lived up to that expectation.

When Fleet Foxes took the stage to close out the first day at Newport, it had been eight years since the band's last performance at the festival. In 2009, the band was picking up steam after releasing its critically venerated self-titled debut, "White Winter Hymnal" was still fresh as new snow in our collective consciousness and then-drummer J.

Sunday evening's final set at the Newport Folk Festival is frequently a triumphant, all-star affair — and John Prine's performance this year proved true to form.

For those looking to hear Americana from Oceania, Newport Folk's Quad Stage was the place to be during the second day of the festival. After Australia's Julia Jacklin kicked things off that morning, it was the 26-year-old Kiwi Marlon Williams' turn. Originally from a tiny New Zealand port town, Williams had just begun to write songs when he first heard Gram Parsons' GP and fell in love with country music.

Moments of unexpected magic are the Newport Folk Festival's calling card. The festival typically sells out well before its lineup is even announced — but the official lineup is more of a rough guideline, anyway, since the weekend is peppered every year with surprise performances and collaborations.

"It's the whole reason I'm here right now," said Brent Cobb by way of introducing his song "Down Home" to the Newport Folk Festival audience Friday afternoon.

Though Alynda Segarra grew up in the Bronx, she left New York City behind as a teenager to chase the romantic allure of America's small towns and wide-open spaces. Those travels, plus her infatuation with the classic songwriting of artists like Joni Mitchell and Townes Van Zandt, have informed Segarra's work fronting the Americana project Hurray for the Riff Raff for nearly a decade.

When you hear The Wild Reeds perform, you experience an artistic emulsion of sorts. The Los Angeles band's frontwomen — three musicians with three distinct songwriting styles that might not naturally mix — have put in the work to achieve a sound that's unified. Mackenzie Howe, Sharon Silva and Kinsey Lee have spent hours swapping favorite records in their touring van and perfecting their vocal blend, and their efforts have paid off: The Wild Reeds' Friday set at Newport Folk was assured and robust, a testament to potent voices made more powerful when united.

Which band you encountered upon approaching the Newport Folk stage during Big Thief's set depended, to some extent, on the moment you came within earshot. The Brooklyn foursome can simmer quietly for long intervals at a time, its subdued wash of sound centering the folk-inspired specificity of Adrianne Lenker's poetic lyrics. But at a moment's notice, the band turns volcanic, erupting into aggressive, jarring episodes of release.

The last time the charismatic husband-and-wife duo Shovels & Rope performed at Newport, it was 2014 and Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent were not yet parents. The South Carolina couple has since welcomed its first child and released a new album, Little Seeds, recorded at home while the baby slept.

It's finally official: Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter gave birth to twins in June, and early Friday morning, Sir Carter and Rumi made their official debut on Instagram.

Beyoncé's caption reads, "Sir Carter and Rumi 1 month today."

As of 6:45 a.m. ET, the photo had already surpassed 4.5 million likes on the social platform.

It had been quite the week for Maren Morris: Four days before the 26-year-old strolled into NPR's offices, she'd pulled off a mighty duet with Alicia Keys during the 59th annual Grammys ceremony and taken home the evening's award for Best Country Solo Performance.

When we invited William Bell to the Tiny Desk, we looked forward to witnessing part of a veteran soul hitmaker's journey back to the spotlight. Bell is known for writing and performing several of the R&B classics that emerged from Memphis' Stax Records in the 1960s, "You Don't Miss Your Water" and "Everybody Loves A Winner" among them.

She'd made a brief but memorable cameo in Kris Kristofferson's surprise set earlier in the afternoon, joining the veteran songwriter to perform "Me And Bobby McGee" in one of the Newport Folk Festival's many moments of serendipity. But now, it was Margo Price's turn in the spotlight.

Julien Baker's music speaks to all of your nagging insecurities, the daily worries that nibble away at your well-being even as you try to suppress them. The title of her debut album, Sprained Ankle, hints at that sensibility: An ankle sprain might be a pretty mundane injury, but it's certainly going to keep you off your feet for a while — especially if, as she sings in the title song, you're a marathon runner.

If you were among those who ate up the fierce blues-rock track "Don't Hurt Yourself" from Beyoncé's Lemonade, then you know Ruby Amanfu's voice.

Elvis Costello might be best known for early-career songs like "Alison" and "Every Day I Write The Book" — literary pop masterpieces he wrote and recorded either solo or with his longtime band, The Attractions. But in more recent years, Costello has become a serial collaborator.

Louisville, Ky., singer, songwriter and guitarist Joan Shelley crafts lovely, sun-washed folk songs that she performs with gentle intensity. Her voice has the ineffable quality of being at once familiar and entirely fresh.

Three of the four members of the Asheville band River Whyless met while attending Appalachian State University in nearby Boone, N.C., and their long-lived friendship shows in their band's music. The folk-pop band builds mountains out of sensitive harmony lines and adorns its open-road sound with Halli Anderson's yearning fiddle.

There was barely a cloud in the sky all weekend at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival this past weekend. But the uninterrupted stretch of three gloriously sunny days wasn't the only stroke of good fortune festivalgoers encountered. Each day at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, R.I., was filled with surprise guests and moments of serendipity.

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats have had quite the year since they played the 2015 Newport Folk Festival last July.

Ryan Adams is well on his way to becoming a Newport Folk regular.

Pages