Nathaniel Rateliff Brings Paul Simon to Newport Folk Festival for the First Time

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats surprised fans at the historic Newport Folk Festival by playing a set that featured only Paul Simon songs.

But the cherry on that sonic sundae was that Rateliff and company brought up Simon on stage to perform the song “Graceland” and three more, marking Simon’s first ever appearance at Newport.

Said Simon, “What a joy working with Nathaniel and his incredible band. The atmosphere at the festival was nothing short of wonderful.”

Added Rateliff, “It’s hard to put into words the joy we felt bringing the great American songwriter Paul Simon to the Newport Folk stage. Thank you, Paul, for your songs, your voice and your presence.”

Photos by Rett Rogers / Courtesy Sacks Co.

Noted Jay Sweet the Executive Producer and Director of Newport Folk, “It’s been a dream of ours to bring Paul Simon to Newport Folk, and truthfully having Nathaniel and The Night Sweats play such an integral part of making that happen is the essence of what it means to be Folk Family.”

Rateliff and his band played Simons songs with a number of big name collaborators, too. The setlist included “Mother and Child Reunion” featuring Lucius, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” featuring Lee Fields with Phil Cook on keys, “Slip Sliding Away” featuring Courtney Marie Andrews, “St. Judy’s Comet” featuring Midlake, “El Condor Pasa” featuring Natalie Merchant, Adia Victoria and The Silk Road Ensemble, “Homeward Bound” featuring Lukas Nelson and “Cecilia” featuring Marcus Mumford. 

Simon’s performance of “Graceland” was a full band affair with Simon and Rateliff singing a duet on the track. Rhiannon Giddens then joined Simon for a new version of “American Tune,” featuring new lyrics written by Simon. Then Rateliff and his band, Simon, Jerry Douglass, and CJ Camerieri performed “The Boxer” while ten thousand attendees sang along. For the encore, Rateliff brought Simon back onstage for a performance of “The Sound of Silence.”

Rateliff & The Night Sweats continue to take their lauded live show on the road this summer and fall. The shows include milestone performances at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl and Berkeley’s Greek Theatre as well as multiple sold-out dates at Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

The run of shows is in support of the band’s third studio album, The Future, which is out now.

See pictures of Simon with Rateliff at the festival here below.

Photo by Rett Rogers / Courtesy Sacks Co.

Photos by Rett Rogers / Courtesy Sacks Co.

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