Newport Folk Festival Preps For No. 51

One of the most legendary music festivals ever passes the half-century mark as the Newport Folk Festival celebrates its 51st anniversary with the likes of Steve Martin, John Prine, Levon Helm’s Ramble On The Road and many, many more.

The festival begins July 30 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport Casino and continues July 31-Aug. 1 at Fort Adams State Park.

Photo: AP Photo
Largo, Los Angeles, Calif.

Founded by George Wein with help from notables including Pete Seeger, Oscar Brand, actor Theodore Bikel and Albert Grossman who would go on to manage Bob Dylan, the festival is noted for presenting traditional folk acts along with blues, roots, gospel, country, bluegrass and Cajun.

Of course, the Newport Folk Festival was where Dylan went electric in 1965 – a move that alienated him among the folk music purist crowd, not to mention many people in that day’s audience who booed Dylan’s performance accompanied by members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Photo: Erika Goldring /
House of Blues, New Orleans, La.

Seeger, along with other Newport vets such as Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie, helped Wein celebrate the festival’s 50th birthday last year.

“Newport is like a second home to me and I always look forward to the next visit,” Wein said. “After celebrating the 50th anniversary with Pete and 17,000 fans, I can’t wait to see the magic unfold over the three days.”

And that magic unfolds with Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers headlining the first night which also includes performances by Tim O’Brien and Sarah Jarosz.

John Prine tops the second day’s lineup that also includes Andrew Bird, Brandi Carlile, The Low Anthem, My Morning Jacket’s (or Jim James, depending on your preference), Doc Watson & David Holt and Calexico.

Levon Helm’s Ramble On The Road caps the festival’s third day which also includes performances by The Swell Season, The Avett Brothers, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Richie Havens and Justin Townes Earle.

Photo: AP Photo
Performing at the Newport Folk Festival.

Tickets go on sale Friday March 26 at 10 a.m. EDT. For more information, click here for the Newport Folk Festival Web site.