New, old artists harmonize at Newport's Folk Festival 50

April 17, 2009  |  12:00am
In the 50 years since the founding of the Newport Folk Festival, it's remarkable to realize just how much the term "folk" has expanded. Back in the old days, so much as plugging in a guitar was enough to brand a folk artist as a traitor of biblical proportions.

But these days? Looking at the roster of Newport's latest iteration, "Folk Festival 50," fans can find every species of folk artist, past and present, rubbing shoulders with each other. Running from July 31-August 2, the festival is set to bridge musical generations at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, R.I.

Representing the old guard are the ageless Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, who both played the original Newport Folk Festival in 1959. Also keeping things grounded in tradition are Arlo Guthrie and Judy Collins.

Once you hit the contemporary indie-folk section of the roster, however, things become startlingly varied. The Decemberists, Neko Case, Iron and Wine, Fleet Foxes, The Avett Brothers... there are so many disparate strands of musical DNA in those artists, from prog rock and torch songs to '60s pop and bluegrass. Yet they all somehow fit under the big tent of "folk."

Other notable artists include Billy Bragg, Josh Ritter, Gillian Welch, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Langhorne Slim, Ben Kweller and Low Anthem. You'll find many Paste favorites amongst this bunch. Here is the current slate of artists announced:

Pete Seeger
The Decemberists
Arlo Guthrie
Fleet Foxes
Joan Baez
Neko Case
Billy Bragg
Campbell Brothers
The Avett Brothers
Josh Ritter
Gillian Welch
Judy Collins
Del McCoury
Iron &  Wine
Joe Pug
Tao Rodriguez Seeger
Balfa Toujours
Elvis Perkins in Dearland
Tim Eriksen & Shape Note Singers
Langhorne Slim
Ben Kweller
Low Anthem.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday, May 6. Visit the festival website for ticket information and further line-up announcements.

Related links:
FolkFestival50.com
Feature: Psycho Killers - The Decemberists Death Count
High Gravity: Newport Folk Festival '08 Day 1

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