The Newport Folk Festival Celebrates All Forms of Folk Music

Read about the historical importance of this festival—which is merely a few days away.

I got a song: a history of the Newport Folk Festival

Massimo, Richard. Wesleyan, 2017
244p bibl index, 9780819577023 $80.00, 9780819577030 $24.95, 9780819577047 $19.99

newport folk festival book cover

Begun in 1959, the Newport Folk Festival is remarkable for its long-lasting success. Many authors have written about it in studies of the folk-music revival, which it helped engender, and of legendary performers who headlined there, e.g., Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan. Thus, it is surprising that this is the first book to focus specifically on the festival and its history. Massimo, a veteran journalist who covered pop music for the Providence Journal for years, had considerable knowledge of the festival even before planning a book about it. After interviewing festival founder George Wein at length in 2009, he decided the festival merited book-length coverage. To that end, he conducted many interviews with both performers and people who worked behind the scenes and he consulted much relevant written material. The resulting book chronicles the festival as a not-for-profit and for-profit venture, the controversies with which it was fraught, the aspects of the festival that continue to make it connect with contemporary audiences while staying true to its folk-music origins, and much more. Written in an approachable style, this book is appropriate for fans and scholars alike.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.
Reviewer: D. Arnold, University of North Texas
Subject: Humanities – Performing Arts – Music
Choice Issue: Oct 2017