folk-festival

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Spent this sunny evening wandering around the Folk Festival Bazaar and the beaches as well. Saw a few cute beach bunnies on the grassy hills near the shores. I also re-dyed my hair earlier today. It’s dark, but in the light you can see shades of reds, pinks, purples, indigos, blues, turquoises and greens, sort of like an oil slick. Wearing my sea witch necklace as well, that contains sea water, gems, shells, sand, all inside an old medicine bottle that I’ve found on these beaches a few years back.

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Moments of unexpected magic are the Newport Folk Festival’s calling card. The festival typically sells out well before its lineup is even announced — but the official lineup is more of a rough guideline, anyway, since the weekend is peppered every year with surprise performances and collaborations.

An unannounced slot at the smallest of Newport’s main stages turned out to belong to Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, who played some new music with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and finished out their set by parading, second-line style, through the enormous crowd that had assembled.

What We Saw At Newport Folk 2017

Photos: Andrew Kissick for NPR

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On this day in music history: July 25, 1965 - Bob Dylan performs an “all electric” set at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, RI. Backed by guitarist Mike Bloomfield and members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, this is a radical departure for the formerly acoustic based folk rock musician. Having released his fifth album “Bringing It All Back Home” in March of 1965, his first to feature electric instruments, it is immediately controversial among Dylan’s contemporaries. The act of a folk musician playing an electric guitar is considered by the audience to be musical heresy, and react negatively by booing Dylan. He leaves the stage after just three songs. The incident inspires Dylan to write and record the song “Positively 4th Street” four days later, a rebuke of former friends in the folk music community who have criticized him for “going electric”. Bob Dylan accidentally leaves the guitar that he plays during his set at Newport behind on the private chartered plane he travels from the venue on. The sunburst 1964 Fender Stratocaster thought to have been lost for over the last four decades, is found in the possession of the pilot’s family in 2012. The guitar is found with several sheets of paper in the case containing early drafts of several unfinished songs. The instrument sells at auction (from Christie’s auction house) for a record breaking $965,000 (to an anonymous bidder) in December of 2013. It surpasses the amount paid for the previous record holder, Eric Clapton’s black Fender Stratocaster nicknamed “Blackie”, which had sold for $959,000 in 2004.

Gentle On My Mind (Live) 1968 July 26
Joan Baez
Gentle On My Mind (Live) 1968 July 26

Joan Baez at The Newport Folk Festival, “Gentle On My Mind,” 1968.

“It’s knowin’ that your door is always open
And your path is free to walk
That makes me tend to leave my sleepin’ bag
Rolled up and stashed behind your couch

And it’s knowin’ I’m not shackled
By forgotten words and bonds
And the ink stains that have dried upon some line
That keeps you in the back roads
By the rivers of my memory
That keeps you ever gentle on my mind

It’s not clingin’ to the rocks and ivy
Planted on their columns now that bind me
Or something that somebody said because
They thought we fit together walkin’

It’s just knowing that the world
Will not be cursing or forgiving
When I walk along some railroad track and find
That you’re movin’ on the back roads
By the rivers of my memory
And for hours you’re just gentle on my mind

Though the wheat fields and the clothes lines
And the junkyards and the highways come between us
And some other woman’s cryin’ to her mother
‘Cause she turned and I was gone

I still might run in silence
Tears of joy might stain my face
And the summer sun might burn me till I’m blind
But not to where I cannot see
You walkin’ on the back roads
By the rivers flowin’ gentle on my mind

I dip my cup of soup back from a gurglin’ cracklin’ cauldron
In some train yard
My beard a rustlin’ coal pile
And a dirty hat pulled low across my face

Through cupped hands 'round a tin can
I pretend to hold you to my breast and find
That you’re waitin’ from the back roads
By the rivers of my memory
Ever smilin’, ever gentle on my mind…”