Photos by Dean Budnick

Yesterday, The Fort Adams State Park came alive with musical enchantment as the first day of 2023’s Newport Folk Festival commenced. Dedicated fans and newcomers alike gathered to witness an array of talented artists at the iconic, timeless and beloved symposium – the scorching weather and the array of surprises and performances added to the fervor.

The opening day boasted an impressive lineup of artists for its opening day, including powerhouse acts such as My Morning Jacket, Nickel Creek, CAAMP, Maggie Rogers, Thee Sacred Souls and more, who set the bar, for the weekend – known for its communal and indomitable spirit.

Highlights from the day included a surprise from My Morning Jacket, who welcomed a series of guest performances-including Maggie Rogers, John Oates and nonother than iconic rockstar and Muppet, Animal. Notably, Oates had previously collaborated with frontman Jim James during his unforgettable Bonnaroo superjam in 2013 and during Rogers’ set, she was joined by SistaStrings’ Monique Ross.

Apart from the star-studded collaborations, the festival featured an impressive lineup of artists representing diverse genres and styles. Local bands Laden Valley and Eastern Medicine Singers delivered captivating performances, representing the vibrant music scene of the region.

Throughout the day, the crowd was treated to high-energy sets from The Beths, Ron Gallo, and The Heavy, Heavy, ensuring the festival maintained a thunderous atmosphere. But the most significant surprise of the day came when news broke that Noah Kahan–scheduled to appear on the Quad stage–had some issues with his vocal cords and would be unable to perform.

However, Festival organizers quickly came up with a solution. None other than the legendary James Taylor, who happened to be summering nearby in Jamestown, R.I., was called upon to fill in for Kahan. Upon receiving the last-minute invitation, Taylor arrived at Fort Adams via boat, and with barely an hour to prepare, he took to the stage. With the grace and ease of a master Taylor delivered a sublime set, showcasing his timeless classics like “Something in the Way She Moves,” “Sweet Baby James,” and “Fire and Rain.”

Photographer Dean Budnick captured some moments from the opening day below.