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Newport Folk Festival is on this weekend

By KEN FRANCKLING

NEWPORT, R.I. -- The Newport Folk Festival returns this weekend with a new name and a balanced lineup of rising talent and established stars like Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie -- a mix its promoters hope will bring back the folk fans.

Headliners at Nestle's Newport Folk Festival also include Judy Collins, Bonnie Raitt, blues guitarists John Hammond and Johnny Copeland, and topical satirist Tom Paxton.

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Baez and Collins saw their career fortunes rise at the old Newport Folk Festival, which ran from 1959 to 1969. Twenty years ago a skinny curly-haired kid named Arlo Guthrie took to the Newport stage and debuted his anti-draft folk-rap classic, 'Alice's Restaurant.'

Producer George Wein brought the Folk Festival back to Newport in 1985 with a nostalgia lineup that packed the facility to hear the likes of Guthrie, Baez, Collins, Paxton, Taj Mahal and Ramblin' Jack Elliott.

A 1986 event, dominated by younger, lesser-known talent, was a musical success but drew a small crowd.

Wein agreed to stage this year's event only after finding a corporate sponsor -- Nestle's -- to help foot the overhead and the state agreed to give him a break on the park rental fee.

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Also featured this year is a rare revival of the old-time Jim Kweskin Jug Band that was popular in the 1960s. It will include veterans Geoff and Maria Muldaur, Richard Greene, Fritz Richmond and Bill Keith but Kweskin won't be there. His vocals and guitar work will be handled by John Sebastian, who was in the Even Dozen Jug Band at the time Kweskin's band was popular.

The weekend lineup also includes a diverse array of talent. It ranges from British punk-folkie Billy Bragg, who sings wry love songs and left-wing political manifestos; The Bobs, a San Francisco a capella group; teenage fiddle phenom Alison Krauss, who was a hit with last year's audience; Louisiana swamp boogie piano player Katie Webster; the New Grass Revival bluegrass band; and Schooner Fare, a folk trio from Portland, Maine.

The Saturday schedule will include The Jug Band, Baez, The Bobs, Hammond, Massachusetts folksinger Patty Larkin, Paxton, the New Grass Revival, and Folk Kaleidoscope -- a segment spotlighting emerging regional talents including singer-storyteller Bill Morrissey, George Gritzbach, Cormac McCarthy, the Boston-based bluegrass band Northern Lights, and 71-year-old bluesman Moses Rascoe.

Sunday's lineup is Collins, Copeland, Guthrie, Raitt, Webster, Krauss, Schooner Fare and Eric and Caitlin Von Schmidt.

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Both events run from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Fort Adams State Park.

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