Fold Festival

Martha Clara Vineyards / Riverhead, NY

nile rodgers, jerry barnes
Nile Rodgers (left) and Jerry Barnes, Photo by Jason Kwan

Nile Rodgers pulled off an exceptionally brilliant and funktastic Tuesday and Wednesday at Martha Clara Vineyards, the very place where the idea was conceived to put on FOLD Festival. The name stands for “Freak Out Let’s Dance”—and that’s exactly what happened.

The two-day festival included Keith Urban, Paloma Faith, Pharrell Williams and Beck on the first day, and Janelle Monáe, Chaka Khan and the highly anticipated Duran Duran on the second. Of course, the main attraction, CHIC, was there with Nile Rodgers, to play their greatest hits.

Although the storm on Tuesday morning delayed sound check by three hours, Rodgers promised to bring even more funk to make up for it, and CHIC funked up big time. Performing hits such as “Le Freak,” “Dance Dance Dance,” “Everybody Dance,” “I Want Your Love,” “Good Times,” Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out,” Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and many more, CHIC sounded fresher than ever, preparing for the release of their new album. Featuring powerhouse vocalists Kimberly Davis and Folami, and the amazing bassist, Jerry Barnes, the crowd was going wild, singing back every word of the amazing hits produced by Rodgers and CHIC.

janelle monae
Janelle Monae, Photo by Jason Kwan

Beginning Tuesday’s show was Paloma Faith, the main act I wanted to see that day, and she stunned the crowd with her sassy demeanor and hard-hitting vocals. The audience was blown away by her singing and performance, and the murmuring after was of how amazingly she could sing. Being hugely popular in the UK, Faith has yet to break into the US market, but has definitely left the audience gasping for more. She performance included her hit, “Changing,” and the riveting “River Deep – Mountain High,” complete with a Tina Turner impersonation.

After FaceTiming Nicole Kidman during sound check, Keith Urban rocked out his country hits, including “Somebody Like You” and “Long Hot Summer” and was undoubtedly the night’s heartthrob. What was most impressive was his guitar solo after his stretched-out five-song set, grinding away on the strings on his knees, tuning his guitar an octave down and back and challenging Rodgers to match him. Rodgers commented that he’s loved Urban’s playing since the two shared studio time together. It was a true surprise and delight for the crowd.

The most talked about act of the night was definitely Pharrell. Performing “Blurred Lines,” “Get Lucky” and “Happy,” Pharrell dazzled the crowd with his cool look and carefree performance, bowing down to Rodgers and constantly voicing his love and respect for the legend. However, fans were a bit disappointed because of his brief set, as he joined his first two songs together as a medley and only played three songs in total.

The final act of the night was Beck, who commanded the stage and the audience with vitality, although making the audience wait an unnecessary amount of time before he came on. The audience quickly became fully engaged when he played “Loser” and “Devil’s Haircut,” really exercising his showmanship. The funk was brought out by his new song, ‘Dreams,’ sending the crowd into a funked up frenzy.

chaka khan, nile rodgers
Nile Rodgers (left) and Chaka Khan

Wednesday was more organized and smooth, with a funkier line-up. The day kicked off with Grandmaster Melle Mel, then, more notably, Janelle Monaé. Monaé strutted onto the stage with a black and white outfit complete with a black and white striped mic stand, belting out “Q.U.E.E.N,” “Electric Lady” and “Tightrope” while also rapping passionately in between, really impressing the crowd with her energy. The dance moves were on point as she recalled Michael Jackson’s Bad days. She had a spark which captured the crowd and a professionalism that is so refreshing to see at such a young age. A fantastic performer and an out-of-this-world vocalist.

Monaé was a hard act to follow, but Chaka Khan did so with such ease and power that she made the entire night her own festival. Khan graced the stage and the crowd went wild, belting out “I Feel For You,” a string of her hits, and of course, “I’m Every Woman.” Her voice, her look, her attitude and her humor shone through with unmatched exuberance, a true icon and musical legend.

Now the crowd was becoming uneasy, waiting for one act: Duran Duran. After a 30-minute set change and a lot of crowd pushing and shoving to the front, Duran Duran appeared in all their pop glamour. With the crowd screaming for Simon Le Bon, including middle-aged mothers squealing at the slightest sight of his boxers as he raised his arms, they took over the festival with their undeniable hits, including “The Wild Boys,” “Notorious” and their new single, “Pressure Off,” produced by Nile Rodgers and featuring Janelle Monaé, resulting in a  showstopping performance.

simon le bon, duran duran
Simon Le Bon


With the successful two days and an injured foot, Rodgers apologized for the awkward weekday timing of the festival, but announced that he’s re-booked the festival for next year, but this time for three days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with many of the previous acts wishing to return. He promises a bigger and better show, and FOLD Festival’s inauguration has truly been a spectacular success. Taking to Facebook after, Rodgers expressed: “In a year of great memories this is another dream coming true,” following his cancer scare four years ago. We cannot wait for FOLD festival next year!

—Jason Kwan

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