Newport Folk Festival: Participation for All

Pete Seeger remarking on a folk music festival he once attended in Ireland, pointed out that "there are no large groups like this one [the Sunday night concert at Newport], but wherever there is a fiddler or a balled singer the people gather, and that's their festival." And although most of what one hears of Newport is record crowds and jammed facilities, the Festival is more than a series of concerts; it, too, has this sense of participation that Seeger noted in Ireland. The people who come to Newport come to listen, but they also come to play, to sing, and most of all to learn.

And they do learn; trading ideas and styles with each other or watching and listening at the workshops each morning and afternoon. These workshops, a phenomenon peculiar to folk music, provide anyone who is interested with a chance to listen to their favorite people play and explain their individual styles and techniques. The workshops are of every conceivable kind--blues, topical songs, the autoharp, you name it. And for many, they provide the main attraction of Newport.

Then, of course, there are the concerts. Before audiences of 15,000, and with the aid of a giant speaker system and batteries of pretty lights the finest talents in the folk field present a brief snatch of what they can do. Appearances are agonizingly short, but they afford a survey of personalities and styles unmatched anywhere. Pictured here are some of their faces.