Newport Folk Festival
A popular music event in America, the
Newport (Rhode Island) Folk Festival is an
annual gathering that has attracted new and
veteran folk musicians all over the country.
It was founded in 1959 by Theodore Bikel,
Oscar Brand, Pete Seeger and George Wein,
whom the latter is also the founder of
Newport Jazz Festival.
Some well-known music stars have their first
taste of stardom in the Newport Folk
Festival. One of them is Joan Baez, who has
been one of the festivalís first discoveries
when it was introduced in 1959. She was a
certified hit, where she honed in singing
historical folk songs and political songs
with her soprano with a three-octave vocal
She then swerved in a different light by
adding some country songs and more
mainstream popular music in her repertoire,
most are still laden with political
She was dubbed as the Queen of
Robert Allen Zimmerman, or most popularly
known by his stage name as Bob Dylan is
probably the most popular performer who
tasted his shot to fame at the Newport Folk
Festival, his premiere national performance.
His appearance in the 1963 Folk Festival,
being backed up by Joan Baez, would then
direct him to stardom, even virtually
crowned as the king of folk music. Dylan has
been a well-known protest singer on his
first year of fame, but fearlessly reverted
to singing compositions inspired by his
personal journey during the 1964 Folk
Festival, while preserving the literary
prowess that enamored the
politically-charged music, despite the
criticisms that he received from purists.
Being an artist who would always defy
conventions, Bob Dylan was showered with
protests when he included an electrical
guitar in his performance in the 1965
Newport Folk Festival. The use of electrical
guitar or any electric instruments in
general, is considered a violation of folk
music dogma. The crowd has referred Dylanís
move, an abandoning his roots in folk music.
The incident has shifted Dylan's artistic
direction from folk to rock. He sang his
last song, ''It's All Over Now, Baby Blue,''
as an adieu to the Newport Folk Festival.
However, he went back to perform at Newport
after 37 years in 2002.
Newport Folk Festival experienced a big
crisis on the later 60s and early 70s, as it
faced a lot of interruptions. It was
well-revived in 1985, reemerging as United
States' most sought-after folk music
festival alongside with the Philadelphia
However, the purist stand of the festival
has been stretched allowing mild
representatives from the country and blues
music in the scene. The former non-profit
festival has gone for-profit, and that the
crowd went down to 10,000 from 20,000. With
the Dunkin' Donuts as its major sponsor, the
festival was also renamed as Dunkin Donuts
Newport Folk Festival. In 2007, the festival
has featured Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstandt
and Ralph Stanley.