The NYC Greenwich Village Music Festival

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NY FOLK FESTIVAL @ Carnegie Hall 1965

I booked the entire NY FOLK FESTIVAL at Carneigi Hall in 1965. It was a very influential event. First of all,I divided the nights into themes; The Evolution of Funk, which started with Artists like Mississippi John Hurt and Skip Jammes from Buffy Sainte-Marie and Phil Ochs  to Muddy Waters to Nina Simone; Country to Bluegrass to Nashville which started with Almeda Riddle singing a high country ballad and worked its way through Mac Wiseman, Flatt and Scruggs to Johnny Cash; The Contemporary Singer-Songwriter which was meant to show that both the young and the old were writing new songs like Buffy Sainte-Marie and Phil Ochs to Muddy Waters and Skip James to Johnny Cash and Chuck Berry - all singing new songs. The term Singer-Songwriter was not popular when I used it for the concert. Folk singers were usually referred to as 'protest singers' but the day after our first ad in the New York Times most critics changed their decription to SingerSongwriter except for Buffy Sainte-Marie, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and a few others. We had a blues workshop in the afternoon with Dave Van Ronk, Son House and Mississppi John Hurt and Skip James playing Silent Night on guitar and piano! The booking by themes so impressed Pete Seeger and the Newport Folk Festival that they tried a couple of theme concerts themselves and quickly learned that it is hard to do by committee. It was a good year for folk music. In fact, the 60s was a golden age in the Village with more great talent than you can imagine - and they shared ideas with each other as a community. It was an exciting time to be a part of it. I was very lucky.

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Comment by Kathryn Fields on March 30, 2014 at 11:16am

Thanks so much for Manny Fox's name.  The meeting took place at his apt/office.  You are quite right about the short time it took to get over the attitude, which produced added respect for Sid Bernstein and Kurt Cerf.  I think what I came away with was a recognition of a moment in time, during which anyone present could witness multiple genres melding together a bit.  I have very warm memories of that production time, including being swung round and round the stage by Mr. Bernstein one day just prior to opening. 

Comment by Herb Gart on March 30, 2014 at 10:23am
Kathryn, the Broadway people you are referring
to included the co-promotor of the Festival, Manny Fox. His co-producer was Sid Bernstein, famous for presenting The Beatles at Shea Stadium. I was hired to book the entire Festival and they left me to do my job without interfering. I put together concerts with particular themes like 'The Evolution of Funk' which worked its way from Mississippi John Hurt to Nina Simone. They contributed one important program idea based on their theatrical experience - the American Songbag following songs from Carl Sandburg's collection. I chose all the songs and Artists and assigned them their songs, but the staging - which was great - was done by Manny Fox. All the Artists sat or stood on the stage in the dark until their turn to sing came up and then they were lit up and faded back to black as the next singer was highlighted. It was very effective and moving. None of the Artists were introduced. The entire emphasis was on the songs themselves. They quickly got over their snobbishness of what a "professional" performer was all about and Mississippi John Hurt wore his hat!
Comment by Sandi Bachom on March 29, 2014 at 10:28pm

Thank you Kathryn for joining and keep posting your memories

Comment by Kathryn Fields on March 29, 2014 at 10:22pm

Bob Gibson suggested I go to NYC to check out the organization of the festival.  Upshot was first doing Eastern advertising --- Greenwich to Boston with paper, etc.  Then performer/producer "intervention" after listening to the 4 or 5 gentlemen talk about the lack of "professional performers" slated for the festival.  These were Broadway folk who honestly believed one could not possibly use a mic at Carnegie and call one self a pro, nor could they allow John Hurt to wear his hat on stage, etc. A few comments and questions to see if they really wanted to have this festival and I had the intervention job. Wonderful experience for a younger than grass Coffee House owner from Conn. Truly colored the rest of my life.

Comment by Sandi Bachom on January 7, 2011 at 12:35pm
This is so great Herb....keep 'em coming! And thanks for joining, much more content coming soon. Feel free to upload any photos you have as well.  Wish they had flip cams back in '65. I was just interviewed about a Dylan concert I was at around 1964/5 in Riverside California, with the Band, when he first went electric and the concert doesn't exist on any website. So it's getting to be oral history time from us old timers

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"BRING BACK THEM GOOD OLD DAYS!" ~ Comments from our members!

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