Festival Heartstrings

When Sweet Went Epic: Newport Folk Festival 2015

Article & Photos by: Lauren Jahoda

How did Jay Sweet celebrate the 50th anniversary of music history’s most infamous story? Well, simply, by making history again.

While some continued to desperately hope Bob Dylan would return to the Newport Folk Festival main stage on Sunday night, 50 years after his notorious electric set, Sweet had already stated months ago (and again Saturday night at the Newport Blues Cafe), that Dylan would not be there. In planning this year’s festival, Sweet realized something that many of us had not: that Dylan did not need to be there in order to commemorate the past with a new, historically-significant event. While everyone else fixated on their desire to have Dylan return to celebrate Dylan, Sweet and the Newport team, cognizant of the unattainable nature of that desire, rallied and brought forth an epic roster of artists to masterfully “revisit” Dylan’s now-hallowed 1965 performance.

It all started at 6:15 pm on Sunday, with Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch performing “Mr. Tambourine Man.” They were then joined on stage, song-by-song, by Willie Watson, Al Kooper, Dawes, Hozier, Blake Mills, First Aid Kit, Deer Tick, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and several more artists who performed over the course of the weekend. This was the grand finale to an unparalleled event in history. The entire festival was ever so Sweet. We are still smiling, Jay. Thanks for that.

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