15 Must-See Bands at the Folk Fest

For the first time, the Newport Folk Festival has completely sold out in advance of the show. Just a few weeks ago, the last pass for the 2011 event was purchased, making this officially the most anticipated lineup in the event's storied 52-year history. Since 1959, the Newport Folk Festival has been the place to catch both established artists and up-and-coming acts, but even in 1965, when Dylan famously went electric, there were always tickets left at the gate for latecomers.

But this shouldn't come as much of a surprise for anyone who has been watching the evolution of Americana music. Like several other "traditional" genres, folk has experienced a very real revival in the past few years, thanks to many modern and indie rock bands that are drawing in a new generation of fans. With jazz, blues, punk, and country influences, these young acts are moving steadily towards a more fluid and inclusive version of the genre, one that has even more room for rockers, and maybe even a glockenspiel.

This weekend, up to 10,000 fans will be swarming the Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island for two days of music. As the ticket sales might suggest, the 2011 lineup is incredibly stacked, and features legends like Wanda Jackson and Earl Scruggs aside relative newcomers like Mountain Man and The Head and the Heart. To help you lucky ticket holders better choose which stages to target, we've rounded up 15 of the most essential acts playing the Harbor, Quad, and Fort stages. Plan your attack—or maybe your next playlist—with our gallery above.

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