Folk Music in New York in the 1960s

folk music york

Greenwich Village coffee houses were known to serve as an anchor point for iconic folk singers of that era, such as Phil Ochs, Joan Baez and Pete Seeger; this lively scene also provided an avenue for future folk-rockers.

At the peak of the folk revival, old guard folkies still believed traditional music would lead America forward; but younger performers began expanding their musical palette by adopting electric instruments.

Gerde’s Folk City

Gerde’s was one of New York City’s premier music venues during the 1960s. Every major folk act with national profile played when they came through town; it also served as an essential starting point for musicians who would go on to become icons within music history, including Bob Dylan who first performed there supporting John Lee Hooker on April 11, 1961 and was reviewed in Robert Shelton’s New York Times review, providing him with enough exposure to become one of music’s major forces.

Mike Porco was the owner of Gerde’s, and was known for having an enormous heart and the courage to follow his dreams. From dishwasher to waiter and then finally owner of the club, Mike believed strongly in supporting and giving up-and-coming artists an opportunity to perform while also offering good compensation packages for them.

The club was located at 130 West 3rd Street in Greenwich Village and had a capacity of 225 patrons. Patrons would often share stories and make new acquaintances as everyone shared in a sense of community and the love for music.

At that venue was a vibrant community that shared a love of folk music, from young hippies to older folks who appreciated its songs and poetry. Some of the biggest names in folk music got their start there including Dave Van Ronk, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Carolyn Hester Mary Lou Lord among many more.

The club was also a gathering spot for musicians and music industry folk looking to keep abreast of current folk trends. Record label executives, booking agents, managers and musicians would gather here regularly in support of one another; creating an unforgettable vibe not seen today’s music scene.

The Gaslight

The Gaslight is a classic tale of deception and manipulation. Hitchcock-ian plot points include exaggerations and coincidences which serve as a warning about falling too quickly in love. Yet despite these flaws, The Gaslight remains a thrilling and suspenseful drama.

Paula Alquist (Ingrid Bergman), in this adaptation of Patrick Hamilton’s play, meets Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), a musician who convinces her to move in his London house. At first devoted, Gregory soon begins isolating Paula from friends and family; eventually making her doubt her sanity with allegations such as hearing noises in the attic or seeing objects that don’t exist; even hinting that perhaps he is poisoning her!

Folk music may seem like the music of another era, but modern venues provide ample opportunities to hear this genre. These range from theaters and concert halls to coffeehouses and folk clubs; though nontraditional settings, these spaces still host some top artists.

One of the premier spots to enjoy folk music is Red Hook, New York’s Old Crow Bar. Not only does this venue teach traditional instruments like the ukulele and banjo, but there is also a small theater where local artists perform. Furthermore, its owners arrange workshops, dances and other events specifically targeted towards folk musicians.

This year marks the inaugural Susquehanna Folk Festival, an innovative new event designed to give York-area artists a platform. Organized by members of the Susquehanna Folk Music Society, organizers hope it will become an annual fixture at Roundtop Mountain Resort in Warrington Township.

This festival showcases an eclectic range of acts, from singer-songwriters and groups of all genres to touring veterans – both experienced performers as well as newcomers looking for exposure on a larger stage – with local sponsors including York County Community Foundation and York County Cultural Alliance providing support.

The Wavertree

At a time when many historic ships are languishing away in far-flung ports, one of New York City’s last wrought iron sailing ships has returned home in lower Manhattan – South Street Seaport Museum’s Wavertree is proudly displayed as evidence of days past when masted cargo ships lined the East River by the dozen.

The Wavertree boasts an illustrious and distinguished history, having been built in Southampton England in 1875 for transporting jute (for use in rope and burlap bags) between eastern India and Scotland. But soon thereafter she entered tramp trade, taking cargo anywhere in the world – ultimately circumnavigating four times around before being dismasted off Cape Horn in 1910 due to steamship technology replacing her. Instead of refitting it herself however, her owners sold it off instead so it could serve as floating warehouse in Punta Arenas Chile before finally being acquired by South Street Seaport Museum in 1968.

On Saturday, following an 18 month, $13 million restoration at Caddell Dry Dock and Repair Company on Staten Island, South Street Seaport Museum’s flagship re-entered port after its return from Caddell Dry Dock and Repair. Executive Director Jonathan Boulware gave tours of the ship at Pier 16 (Fulton and South Streets).

One of the major changes to this vessel was the installation of a “tween deck,” which converts some of the main cargo area into exhibit space. Furthermore, mechanical upgrades and an overhauled steering system have also been completed onboard.

The Wavertree is open for public tours every Wednesday-Sunday between 11am-5pm as part of general admission to the museum, from 11am-5pm. Climb aboard this National Register-listed ship for a guided tour led by one of its crew. Indoor spaces may be closed due to COVID-19 pandemic; however outdoor piers remain accessible with your Pay What You Wish General Admission ticket or membership pass providing access to this historical vessel for free!

The Blue Note

Blue Note has distinguished itself in the world of jazz labels with its continued vitality and extensive catalogue, boasting numerous classic recordings by Verve, Riverside and Impulse among many others. Alfred Lion started Blue Note specifically to “serve uncompromising expressions of hot jazz, or swing”. His belief that America offered such freedom stemmed from both a rejection of Hitler’s Negermusik as well as personal experience playing blues and boogie-woogie while returning home after living abroad for several years.

Lion sold Blue Note in 1965 having built it into an influential brand name; unlike its contemporaries Commodore and Savoy which became part of larger corporations before eventually disappearing during the 60s, Blue Note survived to this day.

After an extended period of relative inactivity, the label was revived in 1985 with Bruce Lundvall as CEO. A veteran recordman and generous patron, Lundvall was instrumental in keeping it active creatively as well as commercially. Through him came relationships with artists like pianistic guitarist Stanley Jordan and one-man choir Bobby McFerrin; an unsurpassed program of reissues and previously unreleased recordings; investments into established artists like Freddie Hubbard, John Scofield, Cassandra Wilson and Joe Lovano; plus unprecedented sales when Norah Jones first released her work – all contributed towards making her debut an unprecedented success story!

Blue Note reissue program’s latest addition is an album to commemorate the anniversary of NYC’s Blue Note Club, with an all-star lineup including Robert Glasper and Ambrose Akinmusire among many others who have performed there. The record opens with a recording session that allows us to witness these top musicians going about their business; we get an inside view into recording process as well as sound of jazz at work! A powerful reminder that music has always been more than notes alone!