River Whyless performs at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival.
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.
River Whyless' Newport Folk set, full of moments of reflection and joy alike, was ideal for Sunday morning. The band's members were clearly thrilled to be playing at the festival, and their humility was wholly endearing. "I planned to talk a lot and woo everybody, but I'm kind of emotional for some reason," Anderson admitted after the quietly empathetic "Life Crisis," from last year's self-titled EP. Another highlight was the band's soaring cover of the Woody Guthrie-Wilco song "Airline To Heaven," which featured surprise guest vocalist Kam Franklin of Houston soul band The Suffers.
Audio: Joshua Rogosin, Suraya Mohamed, Loretta Rae; Photography: Adam Kissick