As described in our “About”page, this blog was born out of the experience that is the Newport Folk Festival. The idea was to spread the festival’s pervasive sense of joy, good will, and community as widely as possible, throughout the year. Of course, this year the “folk family” stayed home. Nevertheless, via social media, the tremendous efforts of the Festival Foundation, Jay Sweet, and numerous other organizers and musicians, we all managed to be together even while apart. Thank you Jay Sweet, Caps, and everyone else for making the weekend happen.
“When we were in the studio doing our unison thing, it sounded so good,” Shires said. “We all looked at each other thinking, ‘This is what the people can do. They can sing with us, and we’ll all be unified, together.’” —Amanda Shires, 2019
a small collection of photos and articles about The Newport Folk Festival, original inspiration for this blog, which celebrated its 60th anniversary on july 26-28.
“This [festival community] surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” —Jay Sweet, memorializing Pete Seeger
“The spirit of servitude that [Pete] Seeger brought to the world didn’t die when he passed away in 2014, and that fact is perhaps most evident at Newport Folk Festival, the now-iconic event that Seeger helped George Wein get off the ground in 1959. “The spirit of Pete, and of Pete’s egalitarian nature, is in every ounce of this festival’s DNA,” says Jay Sweet, executive producer of Newport Festivals.” —Dacey Orr Sivewright in The Bluegrass Situation, 5/22/2019
“there is a recognition that the world is a fucked up place and it needs changing, but there is also much, much more optimism and love and beauty, a feeling like, yeah, change is necessary, but it will come, maybe partly through the power of music and community like at Newport.” —neddyo, 12/22/2018
“Every time I think everything in the world completely sucks, we get to go out and play in front of audiences and share something with people that I know is real, and it still exists, and it will always exist, and there will always be more of this [gestures to crowd] than whatever the fuck that is [gestures to the outside world]. Keep inspiring each other, ok? I know you’re already doing that, but just keep doing it. It’ll be ok. Show up for everybody. Show up for your neighbors. Show up. Just show up. Always show up. If you do that, everything’s gonna be fine.”—Jeff Tweedy, Newport Folk Festival 2017
“If I could boil it down to one lesson, it’s that everything is more connected than you think. It’s not only more connected than what we’re taught, but, really, there is no separation. It’s not something that we’re able to conceptualize as musicians or as people who throw ourselves into situations where we have to figure it out. For instance, if we had to go and live in a foreign country and be among a group of people who were supposedly much more different than us, I’m sure after a few years we’d be like, “This actually isn’t that different at all — in fact, it’s the same.” That’s such a fundamental lesson about humanity, and I think music is a really great place to explore that. If we don’t figure out our own understanding of that, then all of these myths and self-imposed barriers that we’ve built up over all this time will continue to just grow and grow. We’ll evolve to become something that we’re not meant to be. I guess the biggest lesson is the same thing that I’ve always been saying as an artist: Everything is way more the same than it is different, and if you just tap into that, the more you really begin to understand what that is. That’s my quest: to de-categorize American music. Music without borders. If I can de-categorize it, then that will be a great example of art reflecting what an ideal space for humanity to live in would be.“