Newport Folk Festival . . .

Every year, it seems, there are more and more summer music festivals to clog up our calendars and fill our heads with the loud, loud noise of above-middle-aged men (Eagles? Rolling Stones? U2? C'bawwwn, suhn) and their tunes.

There is ONE music festival (as old as time itself - even older than Woodstock) that is something different. It caters to audiences that are above-middle-age (in actual years, maturity, or life outlook) and is decidedly quiet in the grand scheme of things. I give you, here, ten fun acts about the Newport Folk Festival.

  1. While not exclusively "acoustic" in nature, the festival - attended by 30,000 not-so-screaming, white-wine-sipping, lawn-chair-bringing, sustainability-concerned, upper-middle-class folk (and bluegrass, and blues, and country, and traditional, etc.) music lovers annually - was the first place that Bob Dylan ever "plugged in" (50 years ago). It was quite the scandal at the time. 
  2. The Newport Folk Festival is in Newport, RHODE ISLAND. I've loved and wanted to go this event for as long as I can remember. I honestly always thought it took place in California (seems more the vibe, no?).
  3. Newport, once the most elite alcove along the (US coast of the) Atlantic Ocean, is home to some of the country's great estates and mansions.
  4. There is only ONE way (by car) across the Narragansett Bay/in and out of Newport proper - it is the Jamestown Verrazano Bridge. It was designed by the same guy that figured out the "other" Verrazano Bridge in New York City (Brooklyn to Staten Island).
  5. Some of my favorite artists in the world play at the Newport Folk Festival (My Morning Jacket, Jason Isbell, The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, Brandi Carlile, The Avett Brothers, The Lone Bellow, etc.) almost every year if not every year.
  6. The show is not nearly as expensive as I thought - you can get a day pass for like $130 (parking, tolls, water and white wine and $400/night hotel rooms not included).
  7. There are four stages at the formal venue (Fort Adams) and the kick-off/Friday Night concert is held in downtown Newport at the International Tennis Hall of Fame (does it get any more stuffy than THAT?).
  8. Many performances from the concert are streamed live by NPR and NPR member stations (okay - it just got more stuffy . . . I love it).
  9. The show was a "for-profit" event for a while and was underwritten by Ben-n-Jerry's and Dunkin Donuts (among others). Now it is back to non-profit status (and relies on white wine sales to keep it going).
  10. I am TOTALLY going to Newport Folk Festival next year (if SLF will let me (she said I could)).
There you go. Now you know.