Festival | Chicago Reader

Festival

95 minutes 1967

This 1967 documentary by Murray Lerner (From Mao to Mozart) comprises concert footage from four summers (1963-'66) of the Newport folk festival, where Bob Dylan laid the foundations for his iconic career. Other featured performers include Joan Baez; Judy Collins; Donovan; Peter, Paul and Mary; Pete Seeger and his half brother, Mike (rhapsodizing about the power of protest songs); and bluesmen Howlin' Wolf and Mike Bloomfield (the latter chatting about his Chicago upbringing). Many of the performers and most of the audience are slim, fresh-faced kids in the grips of rebellious solidarity—though one self-conscious nonconformist condemns Dylan as a shill of the establishment. Lerner spends way too much time soliciting remarks from the musicians about the appeal of folk music, then crams in a lot of performances toward the end. Still, the film bears witness to a remarkable, giddy era.

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