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The Berklee Gospel & Roots Choir performs at the 2014 Newport Folk Festival. (Adam Kissick for NPR)

Berklee Gospel & Roots Choir, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2014

Jul 29, 2014

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In the past, the Berklee Gospel & Roots Choir has been employed as a sort of Newport Folk Festival palate-cleanser: a way to kick off the day with something kind, approachable, reverent and rooted in many folk traditions. This year, with Mavis Staples on top of the bill, the group, which opens the proceedings on Sunday, functioned as both and a theme-setter.

As its name suggests, the group features some of the best and brightest at the talent-rich Berklee College of Music in Boston. Hear the Berklee Gospel & Roots Choir perform Negro spirituals and contemporary gospel as part of the 2014 Newport Folk Festival, recorded live on Sunday, July 27 in Newport, R.I.

Set List

  • "Give Me Jesus"
  • "Ain't That A Good News"
  • "Elijah Rock"
  • "Be With Me"
  • "Jesus Will"
  • "Come By Here"
  • "Break Every Chain"
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The Planters Nutmobile, seen here taking a starring turn at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, is hitting the road for a yearlong trip across the U.S. (Flickr)

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut, Sometimes You Just Drive One

by Alex Schmidt
Jul 29, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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Dashing at any hour, Mr. Peanut refuses to remove the monocle even for this snapshot with one lucky couple.

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Three recent college graduates are getting paid to take a road trip. The one catch? They have to drive a giant peanut while they do it.

The giant Nutmobile is part of a brand campaign by Planter's, the snack food company. They've hired the grads as brand ambassadors to drive it around the country. After all, it takes teamwork to maneuver a 27-foot-long, yellow peanut in shopping mall parking lots. But if you think handling the vehicle sounds tough, there's more.

"Today, I get to walk in the shoes of a 98-year-old American icon," says Megan Kreuger, one of the Nutmobile's drivers. "I get to greet the customers and Planters fans as Mr. Peanut."

The three team members take turns dressing up in a 7-and-a-half foot tall, yellow, puffy-foam Mr. Peanut costume. It's hot out — over 90 degrees in the sun. But Kreuger is looking forward to it. That's because Mr. Peanut is a silent character.

"It's hard to be on all the time," Kreuger explains. "So, having the Mr. Peanut moment, I can throw a thumbs-up and communicate all I want, and I don't need to speak with people."

The team sets up the same event repeatedly. They park at stores, sporting events and concerts. One of them dresses up as Mr. Peanut and the other two hand out coupons and samples. There are actually three Nutmobile teams — nine brand ambassadors total — which will be driving around the U.S. for the next year.

These team members beat out thousands of applicants for the job. Melanie Rodriguez, who is from the Rio Grande Valley along the Texas-Mexico border, says this made her family especially proud.

"It's like the little Hispanic girl has made it big," Rodriguez says. "That's great because it's really hard, given the economic status of that area, just to make it out. They're very proud of me and couldn't be happier."

Planters says it hired candidates who were dependable, responsible, outgoing and trustworthy. The three team members count on each other for everything from parking help to social bonding — even to assistance with the Mr. Peanut costume.

Mr. Peanut himself is a dapper fellow. He wears a top hat, a monocle and a snazzy grin. No sooner does he leave the Nutmobile than passersby react with smiles of their own, high fives — and some concern. One would-be fan even cracks a joke about the heat in the suit: "He's dry-roasted, as we like to say."

While Kreuger hands out hugs and poses for social media photo ops, Rodriguez and Mason Kerwick hand out samples and coupons. Kerwick is also from Texas, and says the brand ambassador gig is perfect because he's hoping for a career in marketing. But he's enjoying the tour while it lasts.

"If the real world is bowling, and you put the bumpers up — this is that job," says Kerwick.

The team members have to do grown-up things like expense reports and they're on their own, but they're not going to fall in the proverbial gutter of life's bowling alley just yet.

"We still have that buffer," Kerwick says. "We're not paying rent. We're not having to commute into an office and sit at a desk all day long."

After an hour in the sun, Mr. Peanut takes a break. Rodriguez helps Kreuger take off the costume inside the Nutmobile.

While they do so, Kreuger takes a moment to debrief. "I was waving a lot today," she says. "I'm really working on being more active as a peanut."

As tough as the job can be, there are also perks to roving the country in a giant peanut. Kreuger lived in Wisconsin all her life, and now she gets to see the country for the first time. A few weeks ago, the team had a gig at a stadium outside New York City. The event? A concert headlined by Beyonce and Jay-Z.

"We can't honestly complain about any heat or anything for the summer," she says. "We went to Beyonce for free. Any minor inconveniences are so small now."

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Deer Tick performs at the 2014 Newport Folk Festival. (Adam Kissick for NPR)

Deer Tick, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2014

Jul 29, 2014

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John McCauley's ragged roots-rock band Deer Tick has become a Newport Folk Festival staple, along with McCauley's frequent collaborators in Dawes and Delta Spirit. Think of Deer Tick as a kind of turbo-charged bar band, in terms of both creativity and energy: On last year's Negativity, it plays with the free-wheeling energy of punk and the versatility to incorporate country, blues and soul music.

Last year, McCauley played the Newport Folk Festival as a solo artist, but Deer Tick returned in 2014, recorded live on Saturday, July 26 in Newport, R.I.

Set List

  • "The Rock"
  • "The Dream's in the Ditch"
  • "Main Street"
  • "Baltimore Blues No. 1"
  • "Clownin Around"
  • "Trash"
  • "In Our Time" (Feat. Vanessa Carlton)
  • "Hey Doll"
  • "Smith Hill"
  • "Friday XIII"
  • "She's Not Spanish"
  • "Christ Jesus"
  • "Not So Dense"
  • "Ashamed"

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Deer Tick performs at the 2014 Newport Folk Festival. (Adam Kissick for NPR)

White House Says Delayed Action On Climate Change Could Cost Billions

by Eyder Peralta
Jul 29, 2014

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In a report issued on Tuesday, the White House warned that the cost of inaction when it comes to climate change outweighs the cost of implementing more stringent regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Here's how Time boils down the White House's argument:

"A new report estimates the cost of mitigating the effects of climate change could rise by as much as 40% if action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is delayed 10 years — immediately outweighing any potential savings of a delay.

"The White House's Council of Economic Advisers, U.S. President Barack Obama's source for advice on economic policy, compared over 100 actions on climate change laid out in 16 studies to extract the average cost of delayed efforts. Released Tuesday, the findings suggests policymakers should immediately confront carbon emissions as a form of 'climate insurance.'

"'Events such as the rapid melting of ice sheets and the consequent increase of global sea levels, or temperature increases on the higher end of the range of scientific uncertainty, could pose such severe economic consequences as reasonably to be thought of as climate catastrophes,' the report reads. 'Confronting the possibility of climate catastrophes means taking prudent steps now to reduce the future chances of the most severe consequences of climate change.'"

The Washington Post adds that this report comes just as the White House is "struggling to incorporate the costs associated with global warming into its energy decisions."

The paper reports:

"Environmental groups have been pressing the administration, in court as well as through public advocacy efforts, to factor in the environmental impact of increased carbon dioxide emissions when it issues coal, oil or natural gas leases on federal lands.

"The administration, which is kicking off two days of public hearings in four cities this week on its proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, has been emphasizing the costs of inaction in recent weeks. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters Monday in a conference call that the agency had already received more than 300,000 comments on the draft rule."

As Politico reports, Republicans, some moderate Democrats and industry groups oppose the new proposal from the Obama administration because they said it "will damage the economy and kill thousands of jobs."

As we reported, earlier this summer the EPA unveiled new proposed federal regulations that aim to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent by 2030.

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Deer Tick performs at the 2014 Newport Folk Festival. (Adam Kissick for NPR)

Top Stories: Netanyahu On Gaza; China Investigates Party Official

Jul 29, 2014

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Good morning, here are our early stories:

— Israeli PM Netanyahu Says Gaza War Could Be 'Prolonged'.

— China Puts Former Top Communist Party Official Under Investigation.

And here are more early headlines:

Former San Antonio Mayor Castro Sworn In As Housing Secretary. (Dallas Morning News)

U.S. Impounds Imported Oil In Dispute Between Iraqi, Kurd Leaders. (Businessweek)

Wildfires In West Trigger Air Quality Alert In Maine. (Maine Public Broadcasting)

New U.N. Genocide Hearing Opens Against 2 Cambodian Defendants. (AP)

Time Warner Seeks Mediator To End DirecTV Standoff. (Los Angeles Times)

Huge Ketchup Bottle To Be Sold In Illinois. (Deccan Chronicle

New Print Font Unveiled Honoring Late Venezuelan Leader: ChavezPro. (Reuters)

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