newport-folk-festival

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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.

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Joan Baez covering Bob Dylan’s “Farewell, Angelina,” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

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Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell, Mailman Blues. Newport Folk Festival, 1963.