Saturday, July 18, 2009

It's gonna be some hootenanny

Pete Seeger will be there. So will Joan Baez. And do you think Arlo Guthrie will be able to resist breaking into "Alice's Restaurant?''

Here's an event that should have been on that summer concert tour list: The Newport Folk Festival turns 50 years old on Aug. 1-2. Wish we could be there.

Seeger, who recently turned 90, and Baez -- who made her professional debut in that first festival in 1959 -- are more than honorary headliners. They're the butter on the bread, and have been since the folk singing loaf came out of the oven. Seeger, who was introduced in '59 as "America's tuning fork'', stole the first show along with Odetta and Earl Scruggs, "the finest 5-string banjo picker in the nation today'' who tore into "Cumberland Gap.''

So many years, so much history. I wonder if they invited Bob Dylan, who made his Newport debut in 1963 and caused such a fuss two years later with his first "electrified'' set.

There is plenty of new blood as well: Neko Case, Tift Merritt, Low Anthem, and the Avett Brothers -- who play at the Cuban Club tonight in Ybor City -- all will be there. So will Billy Bragg, who took those old Woody Guthrie lyrics and transformed them into the superb "Mermaid Avenue.''

Damn. Anybody want to make a late date?

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