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RHODE MAP

55 years ago, Bob Dylan changed the Newport Folk Festival forever

Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965. From "Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties" by Elijah Wald.
Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965. From "Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties" by Elijah Wald.Diana Davies

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Happy Friday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I can’t tell you how nice it feels to type that the Red Sox and Yankees play tonight. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 18,950 confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday, after adding 110 new cases. The most recent test-positive rate was 2.5 percent. There were no new deaths, so the total number of fatalities is 1,007. There were 77 people in the hospital, 13 in intensive care, and five were on ventilators.

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The Newport Folk Festival was supposed to take place this week, but it’s another one of those marquee summer events in Rhode Island that has fallen victim to the coronavirus. The Jazz Festival is also canceled this year.

But never fear, let’s hop in our DeLorean, fire up the flux capacitor, and flash back 55 years to the most infamous moment in the history of the Folk Festival: The night Bob Dylan performed with an electric guitar, and depending on who you ask, was booed off the stage after three songs.

Considering that this happened 21 years before I was born and my taste in music has mostly been shaped by Eminem, I reached out to music historian Elijah Wald to help us understand the significance of Dylan in Newport. Wald is the author of “Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night that Split the Sixties,” the definitive book about the event.

As Wald tells it, the Newport Folk Festival was never designed to be a showcase for professional performers, and that’s what made it special. It was the intimacy that fans loved, and even though Dylan was already famous when he performed in Newport the year before, he was their star, not the mainstream’s star.

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But by the time he appeared on stage in 1965, he had the No. 1 song in the world, and “Newport is suddenly full of frat boys who want to hear rock-and-roll,” Wald said. When he decided to use an electric guitar for his performance – an idea posed by his manager – his traditional supporters freaked out.

”These people knew him before he was a star,” Wald said. “To them, he was selling out and trying to be The Beatles.”

The truth is more complicated than that, as Wald explains in his book. Dylan had experimented with electric when he was in high school, and he was dead set on “making music 100 percent on his own terms.”

Wald also explained that there were just as many people who cheered Dylan that night as booed him, but the performance itself was flawed. Dylan has always maintained that he was booed off stage, adding to the legend of Newport.

You should read Wald’s book to dive deep into the story, but those who believe Dylan sold out have it wrong.

”Dylan was exactly the same the day after Newport as he was the day before,” Wald said.

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⚓ My latest: You already knew that Election Day would look different this year, but did you know there’s a good chance that we probably won’t know winners for several days afterward?

Amanda Milkovits reports that unionized healthcare workers and staff at five nursing homes are planning to strike next week over what they say are low wages and dangerous working conditions.

⚓ The coronavirus isn’t stopping the Providence Grays vintage baseball team.

⚓ Blithewold Mansion in Bristol gets some love in the Globe’s look at the healing power of New England’s grand estate gardens.

⚓ Elsewhere: Steven G. Calabresi, a Providence resident and co-founder of the Federalist Society, makes the case in The New York Times that President Trump’s call to delay the election is an impeachable offense.

⚓ Rhode Map readers have sent another round of Happy Birthday wishes to: Jennifer Bramley (21, I hear), Dale Venturini, David Whitty (40), Eric Silverman (30), Ford Ballard (74), Sam Boswell (23), Kathleen Quirk (38), Eddie “Scootch” Brothers (55), Mark Smiley, Avery Bernier (18), Kate Bubrick, Richard Nassa (74), Hollybeth Normandin Runco, Marianne Combies (65), Brandford Davis, Bill Preston (66), Larry Valencia, and Claire, Lydia, and Simone Ollman (4). Plus, a special shout out to Caitlin O’Donnell and Ryan Dillon, who are getting married this weekend.

MORE ON BOSTONGLOBE.COM

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John Lewis: If you missed President Obama's eulogy for Congressman Lewis, watch it here.

Politics: James Pindell writes that for the first time in this election cycle, the Democrats are projected to retake the US Senate.

Business: The second quarter set a modern record for the biggest pullback in business activity. Larry Edelman explains what might happen next.

Race: Don’t miss Shelley Murphy’s fascinating story on a man who was imprisoned for nearly 50 years for murder, and is now seeking a new trial.

WHAT'S ON TAP TODAY

Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what's happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ The Providence City Council meets at 4:15 p.m. to discuss placing a question on the November ballot that would ask voters to approve $140 million in borrowing for school construction and repairs.

⚓ Tonight’s the deadline for all politicians in Rhode Island to file their second quarter campaign finance reports.

⚓ Sunday is opening day for the Providence Flea market.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.