With just a few weeks until the gates open at the Newport Folk Festival, I find myself thinking about little else, at least musically. I go to a number of festivals and see a lot of shows, but it’s rare that a musical event can rob my attention well before it happens. It’s difficult to describe the festival to those who haven’t been; like anything magical, you really need to experience it for yourself to fully understand why it sells out instantly, without the fanfare of announcements and advertisements. In fact, the last ticket is sold long before the first artist is announced.
The revival of the venerable Newport Folk Festival continued with a very strong roster of artists this year that expanded once again the boundaries of what is “folk music.” Folk purists – the kind of people who booed Dylan when he went electric at the 1965 festival (this year was the 50th anniversary of that iconic set) – would probably have seen their heads explode if they caught My Morning Jacket’s surprise set on first night of this year’s gathering.
The Newport Folk Festival may not be a monster fest on the order of a Bonnaroo or a Coachella, but it has rejuvenated itself over the last half dozen years into a premier summer stop for a broad range of alternative, indie, country-rock and folk acts. Much of the rejuvenation has been the result of a conscious decision by festival organizers to loosen the definition of “folk” to include a much wider swath of bands – really anybody who could plausibly include an acoustic guitar at least somewhere in their set list.
Great music, great venue, great weather. The Newport Folk Festival has succeeded in reinventing itself in recent years, adopting a broader definition of “folk” that has allowed for the inclusion of a wide range of what might be called “folk-inspired” bands, while still paying homage to its acoustic guitar-strumming roots.
An exciting mix of folk music's founding voices and modern favorites highlights the 52nd edition of the Newport Folk Festival ® when it returns to Newport's Fort Adams State Park July 30-31, it was announced today by the Newport Festivals Foundation, the recently-formed 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization which produces the event.