From its legendary beachfront locale to its celebrations of folk music's past, the Newport Folk Festival draws on more than half a century of celebrated traditions. But it's also an event in which folk's boundaries are tested: This is, after all, where Bob Dylan famously plugged in an electric guitar 49 years ago, in the process enraging the purists in the crowd.
In recent years, Newport organizers have taken great liberties of their own with folk's definition — and "great" can be read in a quantitative and qualitative sense. Scan the names atop this year's main-stage lineup (Ryan Adams, Jack White, Nickel Creek, Mavis Staples, Jimmy Cliff, Jeff Tweedy, et al), and you'll see name after name for whom "folk" is at most a supplementary ingredient.
On July 25-27, NPR Music continues another marvelous Newport tradition, as we showcase and archive a diverse cross-section of the Newport Folk Festival's impeccably curated main-stage concerts. But in the meantime, we've also got this glimpse of some of the event's most promising up-and-comers — complete with a chance to download a song from each.