Of all the gatherings, Newport, Rhode Island is probably the most iconic in folk and related musical history. Newport was founded by George Wein with Albert Grossman in 1959 on the back of his Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and riding the tide of folk revival in the late 1950s, exemplified by The Kingston Trio’s Tom Dooley hitting number one in autumn 1958.
After launching Joan Baez, it changed to non-profit making, encouraged by Pete Seeger, into a vehicle to preserve folk. Passionate folk fan Murray Lerner started recording the growing event in 1963, stating: “I wanted to make a film about something bigger than music... an expression of the new culture”. That film, Festival, is part of musical history.
Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary, Donovan, The Jug Band, Blue Ridge Mountain Dancers, Judy Collins, Fiddler Beers, Mississippi John Hurt, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Mike Bloomfield, Johnny Cash, Richie Havens and Buffy Sainte-Marie are among acts that have helped make it such an event.
It has continued, harnessing cross-over and related contemporary genres beside folk, including alt-folk, indie folk and folk-punk!
Listen (and watch): Donovan showcases his folk and political credentials at Newport, 1965