Fifty-two years ago, Bob Dylan angered fans as he went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island. This year, Roger Waters pleased fans as he unexpectedly got up on stage to sing alongside the seventy year old John Prine. Some surprises are sweeter than others, or maybe just easier to digest. While Waters’ move wasn’t an upheaval of an established status quo, it sure was a treat.
The pair sang and played their guitars to Prine’s old 1971 standard, “Hello In There.” Waters has been a longtime fan of Prine’s. He performed “Hello In There” by himself in 2015, also at the Newport Folk Festival. It is a wonderful thing for a musician to play a favorite song alongside a hero. Waters extended that same experience to Eddie Vedder last week, as he let the Pearl Jam frontman step in for the chorus of “Comfortably Numb.”
Justin Vernon, who had just come off a set of covering Bill Withers earlier in the weekend, also sat in with Prine to sing “Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow).” Vernon added a higher harmony to Prine’s low, matter-of-fact vocals. The pair pair created a delightful sound.
Margo Price, the songwriter out of Nashville, Tennessee, later joined Prine for a performance of “In Spite of Ourselves.” Jim James, of My Morning Jacket, was also present for the song. James had been a guest in Angel Olsen’s set at the festival as well. Prine, in return, played his own version of James’ song, “All the Best.”
All of the artists got up to sang Prine’s “Paradise” together at the end of the show, making the experience less like Dylan’s 1965 performance and more like The Band’s “The Last Waltz.”
Photography Credit: Owen Ela