Newport Folk Festival has a special place in music history—it's where Bob Dylan plugged in an entire generation, going electric in 1965 (check out this awesome footage). After a period of less relevancy to mainstream music, the festival has bounced back with jaw-dropping lineups in recent years, and the 2013 bill is perhaps its best yet (or at least since '65).
Beck, Feist, Jim James, Father John Misty, the Lumineers, the Avett Brothers, Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, Lord Huron, the Mountain Goats and Andrew Bird, among others, are all set to perform at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, RI on July 26-28. Check out the full lineup here.
Let me tell you from personal experience: Newport Folk Festival is one of, if not the best summer festival. Period. Fort Adams offers gorgeous views of the sailboat-filled bay. The lobster rolls and Narragansett beers are plentiful. The crowd is family-friendly and relaxed. Fans can swim in the ocean, right off the grounds. And, best of all, the festival delivers performances you can't see anywhere else. Its folk roots result in acoustic performances from some of the leading names in music, and traditionally closes with a star-studded group performance of a classic folk song.
Expect Beck to play the stripped-back, folky tracks from his album-as-sheet-music release, Beck Hansen Song Reader—one of his first appearances of the material. Pete Seeger, a festival icon (who legend has it tried to cut the cord to Dylan's amp with an axe back in '65), posted a letter to the festival's webpage praising this year's headliner.
"If you like the old time singing and songwriting, you will like Beck. Like many of us he is a mix of many different heritages and styles. I like Beck's new work without any accompanying instruments. Good songwriter. Good singer. Please welcome him to this year’s festival."
It's safe to say: Expect magic in Newport this summer.
Below, hear one of my favorite Newport moments: Jim James doing an acoustic version of My Morning Jacket's "Smokin' From Shootin'" in 2010.