Tuesday, January 28, 2014

FAREWELL OL' PETE

Pete Seeger
1919-2014

Playing 'Turn, turn, turn' at the Sloop Club, Beacon, NY Feb 2010
It was my first open mic. I lost sight of Pete when it was my turn. I didn't want to embarrass myself.
Turns out he was sitting behind me playing along. 

Sloop Club, May 2010

Looking for picks.
Flyer for Gerde's 50th posted on the board behind him
Pete and me, Aug 2010

Victorio Roland Mousaa with Pete
Sloop Club, Aug 2010


Pete and Loudon Wainwright, Symphony Space Oct 2011
Pete and Suzanne Vega, Oct 2011



Pete and Arlo, first steps of a march to Columbus Circle, Oct 2011

Occupy at Columbus Circle
Sloop Club, Dec 2010

Sloop Club, May 2012

Me reading a note Pete sent for all of us at the Folk City 50th

In the wings at Symphony Space, Nov 2012

Oscar Brand and Pete, Museum of the City of New York, June 2013

Izzy Young, Mike Merenda, Happy Traum, Oscar Brand, Pete
June 2013 
June 2013
FOLK CITY benefit
June 2013


Beacon Waterfront, Aug 2013

Summer Hoot, Aug 2013

Aug 2013

Pete and Family Merenda at the Hoot

My last picture of Pete,
Beacon Pumpkin Fest, Oct 2013




Monday, January 20, 2014

POSITIVELY PORCO: The Definitive Documentary Film on Gerde's Folk City- OFFICIAL TRAILER release


POSITIVELY PORCO is the definitive documentary film made about New York City's first Folk Music cabaret, GERDE'S FOLK CITY.

Filmed to enlighten even the most staunch Folk Revival enthusiast and historian, POSITIVELY PORCO is the story of Mike Porco and the club a thousand musicians called HOME.

MIKE PORCO, was instrumental in, literally, setting the stage for the music revolution of the '60's. 

During Mike Porco’s stewardship (1960-1980) the club hosted early performances by a constellation of Folk and traditional music stars. Many American radio standards and Civil rights anthems were ofttimes heard by the public at Gerde's Folk City for the first time.

A list Folk City's distinctive fraternity of aspiring young artists and legendary recording stars borders on myth. 

They were all teenagers and 20-somethings when they got there, and decades later, they're still doing 'what they do'... that is-

PLAY MUSIC.

But not just any kind of music.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mike Porco's legendary claim to fame was that he co-signed 19 year old Bob Dylan's first cabaret card as his legal guardian. In her memoir, A Freewheelin' Time, former Bob Dylan girlfriend Suze Rotolo said that Gerde's was where "the cross-fertilization of different styles and musical eras forged important links in the chain of American musical history." For certain, such a collection of personalities crossing paths under one roof shall never happen again.

Bob Porco, Mike's grandson, undertakes an ardent personal odyssey, seeking out and sitting down with those living treasures that launched a global music paradigm shift from a street corner in Greenwich Village. 

It's an inspiring tale of an Italian immigrant- and the musicians around him- who answered their calling to be a part of the 1960’s Folk and Blues Revival together.  

The stars themselves tell the astounding history of Gerde's and Positively Mike Porco.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Watch it twice. Be astounded twice! 

Rated E for Every human being on Earth.

If you loved Inside Llewyn Davis, you'll love POSITIVELY PORCO.
If you didn't love Inside Llewyn Davis, you'll REALLY love POSITIVELY PORCO.

(File under: NON FICTION)

Please take 3 minutes and watch and share the trailer with everyone you know. I'd love 10,000 views by Groundhog Day, just because.

Don't 'like' it of Facebook. L-O-V-E IT!!!!
POSITIVELY PORCO is on Facebook:

POSITIVELY PORCO  is on Twitter:

POSITIVELY PORCO can be found on YouTube:

Details and history on GERDE'S FOLK CITY can be found at:

More info on Gerde's Folk City:

and:

~~~~~~~~~

Coming soon: Positively Porco movie official website with links, interaction, video and sneak peaks

Inquiries:

folkcity50@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

GERDE'S FOLK CITY BOOKINGS 1974 - FULL YEAR

1974



1.3.74
Fred and his 6 piece jazz rock band

1.10
Revival
Ron Turner

1.17
Revival
Arthur Miller

Vince Martin first hired by Mike Porco May 1960

1.25
Vince Martin
Elizabeth

1.31
Victoria Fleet
Toshiko
Jessie Parks

2.7
Michelangelo
Bob Cohen and Allan Corby

2.14
Life Force
The Wicked Messengers
Elephant's Memory

2.21
Elephant's memory
Arthur Miller

2.28
Elephant's Memory
The Portable Radio Circus

3.7
Neil Harbus
Mark Johnson
Bojac
Dave Peel

Mark Johnson, Folk City staple


3.14
Bojac
David Peel and the Lower East Side

3.21
The Dogs
Nick Mollé

3.28
The Wretched Refuse string band
Anne Scott

4.4
Casterbridge Union
Susan Bader and Trouble

4.11
The Braid
Sandy Kane

4.18
Jack Hardy and the Indiana Band
Morgan and Jenie
Dave Clark and the Steel Men

Jack Hardy's first headline at a place he'd MC for years after


4.25
Five Dollar Shoes
Spittune

5.2
Elizabeth
Erik Frandsen
The Dogs

5.9
Hange Range
Trouble with Susan Bader

5.16
Randy Burns
John and Carrie Carney
RRRRRrrrrandy Burns
also Art Carney's kids


5.23
Free Beer
Jack Hardy and the Indiana Band

5.30
The Deadly Nightshade

6.6
Small Planet
Susan Bader

6.13
Casterbridge Union
Irwin Finger

6.20
The Fast
Bob Horan and Ginny

6.27
Rob Rothstein and the Rebels
Galdston and Thom
AKA Rob Stoner


7.4
Raun McKinnon
Erik Frandsen

7.11
Doris Abrahams
Dai Thomas

7.18
Charlie Quasar
Pendleton Brown

7.25
Free Beer
Decatuer Jones
Who has the balls to advertise Free Beer? Mike Porco


8.1
Up for Grabs/Toshiko
A-fair Affair

8.8
Trouble
Susan Martin
Blues guitarist Susan Martin once co-owned the Gaslight


8.15
The Deadly Nightshade

8.22
The Deadly Nightshade
Shawna Harington

8.29
Revival
Mustang

9.5
Elephant's Memory
James Carney and Company

9.12
Elephant's Memory
Marion Zero Cowings
Alfonia Twins

9.19
Charlie Quasar
Will Street

9.26
Charlie Quasar
The Human Condition

10.3
Stuffy Shmitt
Leslie Fradkin


10.10
The New Fantasy Band
Jeff Gordon

10.17
Mission Mountain Wood band
Doctor Jazz

10.31
The Lotti Golden Group
Dancing Machine

11.7
The Body
Mary La Haj

11.14
Lucky
Maggie and Terre Roche
Maggie and Terre return to NYC, their first of many bookings

11.21
Banish Misfortune
Jack Hardy

11.28 and 12/2
Jake and the Family Jewels
Abe Malka (second week)

12/16
The Taurus
Carl Waxman

12.23
(coming 12/25 Danny Kalb)
Biff Rose
Trouble
Biff Rose IS trouble


12/30
Danny Kalb
Bermuda Triangle(Roger, Wendy and Sam)
Danny Kalb earned better spelling
Folk City still thriving with name acts heading into its 15th year



New Years Eve
Mt. Airy Band
(Featuring Eric Weissberg, Tom Chapin, Bob Hinkle, Russell George and Don MacDonald)
with Susan Taylor



Monday, January 6, 2014

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS- Reel to real

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!



To those who HAVE seen it, well I'm glad you saw it. It's not my favorite Coen Bros movie, but I have had a keen interest in seeing it since I heard that it was coming out. I was ready to 'love' it but didn't. BUT, it's grown on me…like a Brooklyn-ite beard.

To my astonishment, the Coens, and by extension, T Bone Burnett, had gone almost a complete year and a half of spoon feeding the movie through the media and they were able to conceal Oscar Isaac's musicianship until the official release of the trailer and soundtrack. WOW! I said it last year, I'll say it again: Everyone will know who Oscar Isaac is very soon. 

Since my own project is closely related, the timing couldn't be much better. My trailer will be officially released in a matter of days and I hope my film will be highly considered along with the Coen's ode to the Village.

For the regular reader of my blog, you know that my "project" is a true life story about the Village scene. If you liked Inside Llewyn Davis, you'll love POSITIVELY PORCO. If you didn't like ''ILD,'' you'll still love POSITIVELY PORCO. 

My movie is about the real life events and people that shaped the Greenwich Village scene. My grandfather, Mike, hosted them all in his 'living room.' He shared beers with them and gave them work on his stage. He made phone calls for them to get them press and attention. He never asked for a cut of the take. The musicians kept coming back to Gerde's Folk City…and it wasn't for the food.

Inside Llewyn Davis takes place the week ''before Dylan." The period of my story is mainly 1960-1980. It includes the present day but it's mostly about the 20 years AFTER Bob Dylan made his way across the Hudson. 


Inside Llewyn Davis seems to be about the cat. To me it is. And it's in the script. When Llewyn reports over the phone to Mitch Gorfein's Columbia University teaching department that he "has the cat," it's misheard as "Llewyn is the cat.'' Am I reading too much into it? Of course I am.  

The receptionist is wrong in the context of the phone call but it's right in the script. He cares for the cat. Races to the fridge to get milk for it. He loses the cat, finds the cat and takes it to Chicago. Almost. 



Later, Llewyn shows that he's mainly worried about his own neck, certainly not a cat's. He'll run you over on the way to a warm bed if he has to. 

Meanwhile, back in New York, lo and behold, the cat's alive! He's found his way back to the Gorfein's for dinner!! Upon returning from the road trip, here they are...both the cat and the musician.

Even though Llewyn may have already ran him over on the Highway, Llewyn and the real "Ulysses" are reunited. The presence of the cat brings pleasure to Llewyn. The feeling is no longer mutual. The reality is that there's probably a frozen cat somewhere on the side of the road. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fuck all that!! It's about the music. Which it should be. The Coen's method and means may a brutal way to turn people on to the "scene" of the Village, but at least there is tribute to the music of Greenwich Village circa 1961. The music is held high. Oscar Isaac delivers. His music shines, even through the smoggy green hue of a damp, New York February. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Everything that has almost sorta happened to musicians EVER on that street happens to him...that week. Less than a week. There's talk of not one but two possible abortions he instigated, a lack of an address, a lack of a career, a lack of an agent, a lack of love for himself and lack of trust in his own ability. 

He decides to run away from his problems by running away from dry land at one point. 

He never gets there. The viewer may think (secretly wish) that a Hollywood ending (suicide) is a potential end to this movie, but it never gets that bad. Llewyn doesn't have the balls. He'd rather suffer and make you squirm by having to watch his endless self sabotage. He's the best asshole in the history of assholes. It's an Oscar worthy Best Asshole performance. Yet Llewyn is a gifted musician...how did THAT happen? The applause given at the fictional Gaslight is for the performance, not the artist's character. 

The brilliance of the script is that it's merely a potential week for one sad, tough-luck GIFTED loser in a reality-based fictional world. And so many questions remain for the viewer. 

He gets beat up a day before his lead actress gets an abortion. That is established. You find that Llewyn's other venture into the underworld of abortion was as successful as his music career. 



When driving back from Chicago, he doesn't have the balls to pull off the road and search out his former lover and their child in Akron, OH. He doesn't have the balls to get his own apartment. He doesn't have the balls to speak up for a girl he loves. (as suspected, he tells her so much at one point). 

There's also a hint that his musical ex- from his duo act was a love interest. Llewyn gazes longingly at the open road when telling the story in his own words to the stranger in the back seat of 'what happened' to his former recording partner, Mike.

There's a question of who the Gorfeins are since they seem to have known Mike intimately, as well. Are they related to Mike or to Llewyn? Or are they Mike's parents? It's a bedroom, in any event…and a home-cooked dinner and breakfast to the lead character.  

Ethan Phillips as "Mitch Gorfein''

Even with the beautifully delivered music, the movie gets pretty fucking glum. Especially because of the asshole, Llewyn Davis. He shuns those who are trying to be original. He shuns those who try to help. And in my opinion, his character tries to hoard the traditional music for himself. And that's his biggest failure. 

The tremendous point the Coens make is that the music matters. They allow Oscar Isaac to perform, note-for-note, three wonderful songs and part of another. They are majestic songs. Captured nearly live on film. These songs can be found on the soundtrack, of course.

I had the great fortune to host a show with Oscar at the real Gaslight back when he was on location for the film. (John Goodman sang a song with Oscar; Johnnie Phillips was there; I made Garrett Hedlund pay at the door; we shared whiskey later) Oscar shocked my friend after the show when he learned that he was an actor and not a full time musician. He's THAT good. It's very convincing hearing him live. My friend, John, thought he had heard hints of sincerity of √° la Hank Williams. Seriously. 

So the storyline of Inside Llewyn Davis, to me, can survive a bleak trajectory of couch surfing and "assholery" because the honesty of the music outweighs the fact that Ulysses the cat has more balls than a grown man.  

Milk Carton Kid, Michael Mann

Michael Mann is a real life example of someone who ''potentially'' could have been a recording artist. He is a contemporary of the Village musicians coming through in the 1970s. He performed here and there and even gave a lesson or two on guitar and voice, but he was a phantom, of sorts. No one ever knew his real story and no one may EVER know. He's a drifter still drifting on the streets of NYC. With luck, I'll one day meet him. He was at the Gerde's Folk City 50th Anniversary that I hosted, but we never spoke.

Like Mr. Mann, Llewyn Davis is gifted artist who could have been a recording star with only the right gumption and resolve. It's not merely about skill. There have been plenty of technicians come through the Village. It's more about perseverance and paying due diligence. Never has it been about having ''chops.'' Never has it been about being able to remember all the chords and lyrics. It's about having the balls to bring that gift to the people day in and day out. It's about being willing and able to do it with scrutinizing fans sitting at one's feet listening and watching closely. It's about being capable of pollinating the MUSIC and bringing it to a wider audience. One needs to push ones self to "make it.'' Otherwise, one becomes an opening act forever.

Try to hoard Traditional music for yourself and you will soon become a forgotten recording star, chops and all.

Llewyn has none of the drive needed to take his own skill on the road. He thinks small and that is why he must escape the curse of being a gifted musician with no ambition. It's amazing that an asshole like Llewyn recorded at all. He shouts to his agent ''Mel'' in the film, ''You owe me!'' He's wrong, of course. No one owes him anything. He hasn't earned a thing.


In the end, the joke is on us, the Viewers. The Coen Brothers know that most people watching will surely figure out that it really wasn't like that. They will find out that it was a story based on one page in ''The Mayor of Macdougal Street.'' It was imagined that instead of Dave Van Ronk befriending and spending time with Mike Porco at Folk City, that he was beat up in the alley as punishment for his ''assholery.''

The reality was that the ''scene'' was much more positive, uplifting and community-based than the fictional tale of one set of circumstances for one asshole during one week of his asshole life. 

The music spawned in the Village changed the course of music history worldwide and ''legend during his own time,'' Dave Van Ronk, finally gets his due. It came years after his death, but he gets it none the less. A "mountain of a man," as Dylan called him. And Dylan....well the plot says it all without saying it. It's set the "week before" Bob Dylan sets the scene on fire and re-defines the Songwriter genre itself. He's not the star of the show, just the light shining at the end of a movie about an asshole.

In reality, the world of music turned out ok. The Coens, T Bone Burnett and Oscar Isaac have made an instant classic and will take home statues for doing so, regardless of how many people stumble out of the theaters muttering and wondering what they saw. The Coens could have made everybody an asshole. Instead, they made one big one.

It's a world full of assholes. In real life, their impact is never long lasting. The music overcomes all black clouds when played in tune with others. Llewyn was in tune, but only with himself.

Rocky road



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Some more images from the Gerde's Folk City archive

Lillian Bailey, Mike Porco, Suze Rotolo in 1985

Mike Porco's 'other' restaurant was in the shadow of the Stadium (red neon under the tracks)

Buzzy Linhart spent many-a-New-Years as Folk City's headliner

Brother John Sellers

Pete Seeger


Fred Neil

Richard Tucker and Karen Dalton at Gerde's

1971

1971

June 1972

September 1972