50 Years After Bob Dylan's First Electric Performance, Jason Isbell Plays His Historic Guitar Backstage at The 2015 Newport Folk Festival [YouTube Video]

Jake Klein

by Jake Klein

Published August 7, 2015

The 2015 Newport Folk Festival wrapped up back on July 26, but some of the most incredible footage of the happenings has only just been released. Watch Jason Isbell's interview via YouTube above. Before you do anything, though indulge us on a trip down memory lane.

July 25, 1965- Bob Dylan parts the musical seas and paves a road that goes on to connect acoustic and electric music. Standing on stage at The Newport Folk Festival, Dylan, for the first time in his career, plays live, electric renditions of "Maggie's Farm," "Like a Rolling Stone," and "Phantom Engineer," an early version of "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry." He plays these songs on a Fender Stratocaster to a mixture of boos and cheers.

While some argue that the crowd is displeased with the sound quality of the set, many believe Dylan is booed for moving away from folk music and blurring the lines between what are considered to be two inharmonious musical styles.

Fast-forward 48 years. A pilot's daughter has a guitar authenticated by PBS which proves to be the monumental Fender that Dylan used to blend the worlds of rock and folk. The guitar has remained in the pilot's family, who tried to return the instrument to Dylan after he left it on a plane. In December of 2013 the guitar sells for $965,000 to Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay.

July 25, 2015- 50 years after Bob Dylan symbolically breaks down the barriers between musical genres, Jason Isbell is handed the same Fender Stratocaster that Bob Dylan wielded so many Newport Folk Festivals ago. The previous owners claim that the instrument has not been played in 50 years.


Jason Isbell, the award winning musician behind Something More Than Free and Southeastern was bequeathed an honor that few will ever receive when he was, to his surprise, handed the same Fender Stratocaster that Bob Dylan used to smash boundaries at The Newport Folk Festival 50 years earlier to the day.

A clearly shocked Isbell marveled at the pristine guitar for some time before playing a few smooth licks. Isbell declined to play a full song, saying he'd "rather just noodle," explaining that he'd "hate to interrupt the guitar by singing." At the end of the video, you can watch him play Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing."

In addition to Isbell, Taylor Goldsmith of Los Angeles indie rock band Dawes strapped on the signature guitar and played "Maggie's Farm" during the festival. Al Kooper, who played organ in the original band that backed Dylan in '65 was also involved in the set.

Bob Dylan Jason Isbell
Alt Country Americana Classic Rock Folk Folk Rock Southern Rock
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