What the folk? (part IV)

I have traveled across the country to attend music festivals. From Massachusetts to New York to Delaware to Tennessee to Alabama.

This weekend I will even travel internationally to Montreal for another festival.

But if I were to only attend one festival per year, my choice would be easy — the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island.

This past weekend marked my fourth time heading to this most unique of festivals. And if you read my musings on previous years in 2012, 2014 and 2015, then you would understand why I love it so much.

The Newport Folk Festival provides an opportunity for people to unite and relax all in the name of quality music. And I know all festivals accomplish that. But Newport is different.

For one, it’s a different vibe. There’s no EDM, no hip-hop, no hard rock. It’s just people and their guitars, playing stripped down music the way it was meant to be. No gimmicks.

That type of environment appeals to a certain crowd. Rather than the 18- to 25 year-olds one typically sees at some festivals, Newport draws an older crowd. The fact that they also cap the crowd at 10,000 each day prevents overcrowding — one of the worst side effects of the typical festival.

But what makes Newport so endearing — and such a favorite among artists — is not only its rich history, nor its serene setting being in a state park surrounded by water, but the respect that is given by everyone involved.

No one talks during the music. No one is on their phones. They sit and listen. They hug their loved ones. They emphatically cheer when a song ends, and they don’t cat call or heckle. It’s as obedient and polite of an atmosphere one will find.

It was even more enjoyable given the times. It certainly wasn’t lost on many of the artists that we are currently living in a chaotic world. I say that because many of them brought it up themselves. Even during an age when we hear reports of mass shootings and suicide bombings, it’s extremely comforting to know that people could still gather for a weekend to lie in the grass, enjoy one another’s company and revel in the sweet sound of music.

The Newport Folk Festival is no stranger to political activism. Bob Dylan used to play there during his heyday. It’s a place of peace and love, and this weekend was no different.


Anyway, here are some artists I’d strongly recommend checking out:

Those were some of the many talented performers I saw.

After spending a weekend at the Newport Folk Festival, it’s hard to wonder why we all can’t just along.

Hard to wonder, indeed.

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