People, Get Ready: The 2014 Newport Folk Festival

July 14th, 2014 by

2014 Newport Folk Fest Overview

The last weekend in July means different things to different people. For some, it signals the beginning of what is generally accepted to be the hottest stretch of the year. Others recognize this weekend as the kickoff for NFL training camps. However, for those among us in southern Rhode Island–or those of us who just have a keen artistic and musical interest–it heralds the return of the Newport Folk Fest, perhaps the area’s greatest cultural contribution (narrowly edging out the Farrelly Brothers, of course).

But what is the Newport Folk Fest all about, really? Enjoy this brief overview of the Newport Folk Fest, from your friends at Speedcraft VW!

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan are among the unofficial founders of the Folk Fest.

Folk Fest’s Iconic History — Founded in 1959 just as folk music was gaining a wider audience, the Folk Festival was introduced as a sibling to the established Newport jazz Festival. In short order, it became the launching pad for a number of world-famous folk musicians such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, and grew to feature multi-genre musicians such as Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Although it went on hiatus from 1971 to 1985, it has run continually since then, drawing over 10,000 fans each time.

Dylan Goes Electric — It may seem comical today, but in the mid-1960s, folk musicians were expected to remain acoustic, and Bob Dylan was the patron saint of such belief. So, when he went onstage on July 25th, 1965 and played an all-electric set, the reaction was that of stunned shock. However, evidence suggests that the fans at Newport–generally a genial group, if we may say so ourselves–weren’t nearly as upset as was reported, and that the majority of the uproar belonged to those who read about it later. Either way, Dylan’s reputation as a trailblazer–and as an always-welcome addition to the Folk Fest roster–was secure.

Great music, great weather, great people-watching. Newport Folk Fest has it all.

This Year’s Fest — To the surprise of no one, this year’s Folk Fest features a diverse and talented lineup, with many acts we at Speedcraft VW can personally recommend. Friday sees such can’t-miss performers such as reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, ethereal popsters Band of Horses and up-and-coming folk wunderkinds PHOX. On Saturday, you can enjoy the genre-bending style of Jack White, pop-bluegrass titans Nickel Creek, and actor-cum-troubadour act John Reilly & Friends. Finally, Sunday closes out the weekend with shows from Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, acoustic magicians Rodrigo y Gabriela, and midwestern bluegrass fan-faves Trampled by Turtles. Overall, a lineup as great as any on record.

Some Quick Tips — If you plan on attending, know some basics. Attendees are allowed one small hand-held cooler per person, with no alcohol or glass containers permitted. Also, to provide ample room and visibility for all who attend, you may only bring a blanket 8’x10’ or smaller, and only low-backed chairs are allowed. And, if you plan on bringing a beach umbrella or your dog, leave them at home, because they aren’t allowed.

We hope everyone has a wonderful time at this year’s Newport Folk Fest! And, when you’re ready to view a vehicle roster as diverse as any Folk Fest lineup in recent memory, pay us a visit at Speedcraft VW, located in nearby Wakefield, RI!