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Before Woodstock and Monterey Pop, there was Festival. From 1963 through 1966, Murray Lerner visited the annual Newport Folk Festival to document a thriving, idealistic musical movement as it reached its peak as a popular phenomenon. Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Cash, the Staple Singers, Pete Seeger, Son House, and Peter, Paul and Mary were just a few of the legends who shared the stage at Newport, treating audiences to a range of folk music that encompassed the genre’s roots in blues, country, and gospel as well as its newer flirtations with rock and roll. Shooting in gorgeous black and white, Lerner juxtaposes performances with snapshot interviews with artists and their fans, weaving footage from four years of the festival into an intimate record of a pivotal time in music—and in American culture at large.


  • New, restored 2K digital transfer, approved by director Murray Lerner
  • New reconstruction and remastering of the soundtrack from the original concert and field recordings, approved by Lerner
  • Making “Festival,” a new program featuring Lerner, associate editor Alan Heim, and assistant editor Gordon Quinn
  • When We Played Newport, a new program featuring archival interviews with Lerner, music festival producer George Wein, and musicians Joan Baez, John Cohen, Judy Collins, Phil Ochs, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow, and others
  • Selection of unreleased performances by Clarence Ashley, Johnny Cash, Elizabeth Cotten, John Lee Hooker, Odetta, and Tom Paxton
  • Optional captions identifying artists and song titles
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Amanda Petrusich and artist biographies by folk music expert Mary Katherine Aldin

New cover by Eric Skillman


  • Murray Lerner
  • United States
  • 1967
  • 98 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • English