• UO Live: On The Boat

    This weekend, we'll be up in beautiful Newport, RI, hanging out on a decked-out boat with The Wild Honey Pie and some of our favorite musicians. Recording special sets on the boat all weekend long, the artists will also be making appearances on the ground at Newport Folk Fest. To get everyone pumped up for the big event, we interviewed a few of the artists involved to learn a little bit more about each of them. See you at the fest!


    Tell us a little bit about yourself!
    Well, my name is Mike Savino. I grew up in Long Island, NY, but I’ve made my home in Harlem, NY, for the past 11 years. I’ve been a musician all my life, from my humble beginnings as a heavy metal bass player in my youth, to a jazzer, to my current life as a banjo slinging troubadour.

    How would you describe your sound?
    Psychedelic banjo?

    How do you feel about other people’s descriptions of your sound?
    People throw around the terms “maverick” or “banjo wizard” which I don’t mind at all.

    How long have you been playing the banjo? Do you remember the first song you tried to play?
    I’ve been playing the banjo for almost 20 years (yikes), though at first it was a hobby as I was more serious about becoming a jazz bassist. On the side I was studying Earl Scruggs and Pete Seeger, learning to play those old-time songs like “Cripple Creek” and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown."

    A show is a success when everyone leaves feeling elated and mystified.

    The best part about touring is seeing old friends and making new ones.

    Favorite memory from 2014?

    The year is half over and I feel like I’ve already done so much. I just returned from a tour of Japan for the second time. That was pretty amazing.

    Have you attended Newport Folk Fest as a concertgoer? If so, any favorite memories?
    I haven’t. This will be my first time!

    Any NPFF moments/sets through the years that particularly stand out to you?
    I’m guessing that this year will stand out. :)

    Who are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?
    So much! I’m excited to reunite with my friends Lucius and Valerie June who will also be playing. I’m a huge fan of Trampled by Turtles whom I’ve never gotten to see. Robert Hunter has always been a hero of mine. I’m excited to see Jack White, Jeff Tweedy, Conor Oberst, Deer Tick... there’s so many. I’m going to be very busy.

    What do you like to do when you’re not playing music?
    Unfortunately, when I’m not playing music, I’m sending emails. Haha. One day I’m going to get me a little cabin in the woods and just sit there listening to the birds, drawing in my sketchbook, and drinking coffee.

    Who are you currently listening to?
    At the moment I’m listening to Sean Lennon’s new band GOASTT, Floating Action, and the tracks from my upcoming EP - getting them ready for release. I’ve heard those, WAY too many times.


    Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started as a musician.
    I'm Thao. I grew up in Virginia and taught myself to play guitar and other stringed instruments and the first song I ever wrote was for a book project on Lord of the Flies in eighth grade. Still some of my best work.

    How would you describe your sound?
    Old country and blues and R&B influenced loose and energetic rock and roll music with melancholic lyrics.

    How has your upbringing shaped your music?
    I think growing up in an immigrant household as a first-generation American kid raised by a very hardworking single mom infused me with a social consciousness and empathy and I hope that is evident in my music.

    What would you most like for people to take away from your music?
    Empathy and energy.

    Who inspires you musically? (Singers/songwriters/etc.)
    Dolly Parton, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Lucinda Williams, Bill Callahan, Outkast, Elvis Perkins, Songs Ohia, John Prine, older street musicians, our bassist Adam Thompson, my dear friend Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards, writers Joan Didion, Grace Paley, Dennis Johnson, and all the fantastic people with whom I've had the pleasure of collaborating.

    You’ve collaborated with a lot of amazing artists. Who would you like to collab with in the future?
    I would love to collaborate with brass musicians in New Orleans and genius musician kids and comedic actors.

    A show is a success when you feel like you and the crowd were in it together and either side gave just as much as the other.

    The best part about touring is seeing old friends you'd otherwise never get to see, eating amazing food you'd otherwise never get to eat.

    Who are you currently listening to?
    The Byrds, En Vogue, Mavis Staples.

    What does the future hold for you?
    Writing our next record and then recording it and then releasing it and then touring it. Immediate future holds eating kale I bought at the farmer's market.


    Hi Joel! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
    I grew up in a small coastal town in Maine. Before Death Vessel, I formed the band String Builder with my brother, Alec. I first started making music in Rhode Island in 1997.

    How would you describe your sound?
    A friend once described Death Vessel's sound as "melancholy candyland."

    A show is a success when when all is a wow.

    The best part about touring is is feeling welcome in a new and distant place. Additionally, I've always liked the routine that a well-planned itinerary provides.

    What do you love about RI?
    The official state rock of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations is the Cumberlandite. It's exclusive to RI. And it's magnetic.

    Where are your favorite places to hang out in RI?
    I spend most of my time on the west side of Providence. Parker Woodlands is great for shady hikes. I recently had the opportunity to visit Clingstone. It's a lone house built on a tiny rocky island in Narragansett Bay near Jamestown. It's quite a sight.

    Have you attended Newport Folk Fest as a concertgoer? If so, any favorite memories?
    Yes, last year. Michael Hurley's performances in the Harbor Tent (with Black Prairie as his backing band) and in the Family Tent were festival highlights.

    Any NPFF moments/sets through the years that particularly stand out to you?
    I'm easily enthralled by the video clip of Blue Ridge Mountain Dancers with Pete Seeger (1964?) that's circulating online.

    Who are you currently listening to?
    I've been on a Francois Rabbath kick lately.

    Shop Joel's vinyl picks

    On The Boat Performers
    Tall Tall Trees
    Death Vessel
    Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
    Shakey Graves

    RSVP for the On The Boat experience here! Spaces are extremely limited. Winners will be randomly chosen starting July 24. For more info, click here.