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Cambridge and Newport folk festivals ally 

By | Published on Thursday 20 July 2017

The Cambridge Folk Festival has announced a partnership with America’s Newport Folk Festival, the long-standing annual folk fest in Rhode Island that, among other claims to fame, was where the ‘electric Dylan controversy’ occurred in 1965. The informal alliance is being billed as a ‘twinning’, with organisers of the two events hoping to share ideas, knowledge and booking tips.

Confirming the tie-up between the two equally prestigious folk festivals, the MD of Cambridge Folk Festival, Steve Bagnall, said: “Cambridge Folk Festival has always tested the boundaries of folk with its programme and we are excited to be working with and learning from a festival that has the artistic heritage and ambition of Newport. Twinning with Newport will allow both festivals to explore unique and extraordinary artistic opportunities that will excite audiences on both sides of the Atlantic”.

Noting how the Newport Festival inspired the founding of his event in 1965, Bagnall added: “Since 1959, the Newport Folk Festival has held a unique place in America’s musical and cultural history. A hub for the civil rights movement in the 1960s and the site of Bob Dylan’s famous switch to electric guitar in 1965, the festival also hosted the first major appearances of Joan Baez, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Arlo Guthrie, and sparked the revival of gospel, Cajun and blues. Today the festival’s unique alchemy between past and present still serves fans who crave innovation but appreciate tradition”.

Newport Folk Festival Executive Producer Jay Sweet adds: “We are excited that from next year Newport Folk Festival will be twinning with Cambridge Folk Festival. This move will allow us to share ideas, experiences and some artists from two festivals that have grown up together and in their own way played a role in shaping the folk music landscape on both sides of the Atlantic. This partnership will allow us to bring a little bit of Newport to Cambridge and vice versa”.