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Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2014

Anais Mitchell (right) and Jefferson Hamer perform at the 2014 Newport Folk Festival.
Adam Kissick for NPR
Anais Mitchell (right) and Jefferson Hamer perform at the 2014 Newport Folk Festival.

There's ambition rooted in the pursuit of personal glory, and then there's creative ambition, rooted in a desire to do what hasn't already been done. Anais Mitchell is a folksinger with a kind, approachable voice. But she also takes on heady and inventive concepts, from an album-length "folk opera" adapting the myth of Orpheus (2010's great Hadestown, represented here with "Wedding Song") to Child Ballads, her seven-song collaboration with singer-songwriter Jefferson Hamer.

Hamer has creative ambition of his own: His work frequently stretches out to incorporate ancient Irish music and the traditional sounds of Appalachia. So he's a nice fit for Child Ballads, in which he and Mitchell take on early traditional folk songs in ways that still feel accessible today.

Hear the duo perform as part of the 2014 Newport Folk Festival, recorded live on Friday, July 25 in Newport, R.I.

Set List

"Willie Of Winsbury (Child 100)"

"Riddles Wisely Expounded (Child 1)"

"Willie's Lady (Child 6)"

"Wedding Song"

"Young Man In America"

"Geordie (Child 209)"

"Clyde Waters (Child 216)"

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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