First-Ever Book-Length History of Newport Folk Festival Explores Fest's Complex History

Books News Newport Folk Festival
Share Tweet Submit Pin
First-Ever Book-Length History of Newport Folk Festival Explores Fest's Complex History

Wesleyan University Press will publish the first book devoted entirely to the history of the Newport Folk Festival.

Written by historian and journalist Rick Massimo, I Got A Song: A History of The Newport Folk Festival explores the festival’s complex 58-year history. Massimo’s research included many interviews and first-person testimonials from artists, producers and audience members across different generations. A few of the most notable interviewees include Pete Seeger, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Judy Collins, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary) and The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy.

Massimo said the interviews were illuminating and productive, and allowed him to gain new insight into the definition of folk music and the history of the festival. “Everyone was very willing to talk about Newport; I was particularly impressed with Jim James’ breadth and depth of knowledge of what Newport is about.” said Massimo. “He is much more clued into the history of Newport than people think. And so many of the modern acts see themselves as descendants of old performers.”

Of course, Massimo isn’t exactly a newbie on history of the Newport Folk Festival. He’s been covering the event for the past nine years, reporting for The Providence Journal. He’s won awards for his work on arts and media, including awards from the Rhode Island Press Association and the New England Associated Press News Editors. When it came to the festival, Massimo said, “I was fascinated by how it endured and how it had changed, as well as the controversy over what folk music really was. I wanted to write a book that tells a story and isn’t just padded with facts.”

I Got a Song will be released on May 2 and is currently available for preorder on Amazon. It costs $24.94 for paperback, and a whopping $80.00 for hardcover. Tickets to the 2017 Newport Folk Festival are currently sold out. This year, the festival will be headlined by Fleet Foxes, Angel Olsen and Drive-By Truckers. While I Got a Song is certainly the first book chronicling the history of the festival, is it not the first writing on the subject ever—check out Paste’s “Folk You: 50 Years of the Newport Folk Festival.”