|I'm not there|
I don’t ever do this. I have never published an open letter even though I’ve maintained this blog for over 6 years. I usually just rant and rave about usual goings on.
I’m posting this open letter because conversation needs to take place regarding a new and wonderful idea, the American Center for Folk Music or ACFM.
In this self-publishing, citizen-media world we live in, people are always declaring one thing or another on 3rd party sites. I’m posting my opinion here because blogs avail themselves to comments. I don’t normally have running chats here but sometimes topics catch fire.
The ACFM has put out a pamphlet termed a ‘proposal to Beacon’ and they have stated that their mission is to ‘’Celebrate the rich legacy of Folk music.’’ You don’t need to know much beyond that other than the means by which they plan to celebrate is with a physical Center/Facility promoting music, community and a Folk HALL OF FAME. (Museum optional)
My feelings and opinions were expressed in an open forum where I was invited to listen to ideas from about 35 other interested parties. The meeting was held January 29th in the tiny quarter of a building they’ve been allotted down by the riverside in Beacon, New York 12508. The River, of course, is the mighty Hudson.
The current building is within spitting distance of the Metro-North train station terminating in Grand Central Station. Tourists have been coming over to Beacon from all around in the past decade mainly drawn by the contemporary museum nearby. (More on that later)
Visitors to the ACFM HQ at the Scenic Hudson red barn will find ample parking, wonderful surroundings, a cute Main Street USA but NO ARTIFACTS.
Granted, the ACFM is not open to visitors yet but essentially nothing lies beyond the sign on the door.
A committee/Board has been formed many months ago to explore interest and possibilities of having an ACFM. David Ross is the man with the plan. His experience has been, amongst other things, as the director of the Whitney Museum in New York. His plan seems to include what the People want as long as there is a budget large enough to afford them all.
(I’ll get to that later)
Along with Mr. Ross on the Board are friends and acquaintances of my own, Phil Ciganer and David Bernz. I know Mr. Bernz longer but I know Phil better since I’ve paid to see many shows at his club, The Towne Crier. I’ve even hosted a concert at the club but mainly, I’ve eaten much of his food and have drank a fair amount of his beer.
He’s been operating the same business in 3 different towns since 1972. He now anchors a corner on Main Street across from the stone post office.
Music- I’m happy to say- is LIVE and well in the city of Beacon. I’m more astounded to say that because I personally know Beacon since 1981. I took my driver’s license exam in what was once the DMV and is now the men’s room at the Towne Crier. Beacon was a shit hole. It still is in some corners but I kinda like it now. (To see a snapshot of Beacon before its revival, see the Paul Newman film, NOBODY”S FOOL which was shot there)
If you are on this blog reading this, you probably already know Folk music on some level. PETE SEEGER made his home and raised his family on the mountainside in Beacon for almost 60 years. Old-time Music is a natural fit here/there. These days, traveling musicians, hipsters and hippies seem to like it regardless of their knowledge of Ol’ Pete’s legacy.
Even Europeans can now be seen walking Main past former crack houses in search of chocolates and antiques. Old boarded up buildings are no longer shabby but chic using the original architecture. I say this and I still can’t believe it. It was a social plan gone RIGHT for a change. Kudos to the Mayor of yesteryear.
The success of the city was built squarely on the shoulders of Dia:Beacon. Dia is an international contemporary art museum, also a stone’s throw from the station in Beacon. Opened in 2003, it draws visitors from all over the world to see their permanent and one-of-a-kind pieces of art. I walked the site on day one of its opening as well as hundreds of other times with my daughter. My ex-wife has worked there since inception. Before the museum opened, Main Street was still kind-of a shit show. Retail business-minded entrepreneurs and a million visitors tend to shake up small towns.
And now the American Center of Folk Music wants a piece. To which I say TAKE THE WHOLE REGION!!!!! The early days of a Nashville-type music hub is there for the taking.
Beacon and surrounds could be spring-boarded into a thriving metropolis overnight if the ACFM finds the right backers. These backers need a few brain cells to rub together to sequester Federal, State and local funds to make a Hall of Fame (HOF) and museum to beat all museums.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. What I envisioned for them when I first heard of the plans was a huge building down by the riverside large enough to house a KICK ASS hall and museum full of art and artifacts and LIVE MUSIC. Celebrate- to ME means- PARTY with MUSIC.
No party leading up to the doors opening should be planned without raising funds. We’re talking 501(c)3-ville. The ACFM is currently under another’s tax-shelter umbrella. Donations will be as large and come from directions as far and as wide as the popularity of Folk music itslef.
The phrase ‘hall of fame’ is not what will be used, I’m gauging by the group’s sentiment. I’m sure a similar name will be dreamed up. I was able to speak out and say at the meeting that the ACFM is either gonna be the HOF or they’re NOT. Decide and make it known.
For now, either Beacon will become the international ‘Center’ for Folk Music complete with a HOF or someone in Los Angeles with a team of accountants and a massive PR firm will steal the idea and declare their land as hollowed ground.
I’ve only witnessed one meeting and was impressed how the Board allowed EVERY person in the room have their say including me. My only gripe, if you’ll excuse the phrase, is that there wasn’t a declaration in the meeting that the ACFM was poised with a flagpole overhead ready to strike it into the bedrock claiming Beacon as a conquest to be used for their own needs. They’ve got the blessing of ALL the Folkies. Hands down. (Take my town, please!) What do they need? Political approval? Of course, important members of the municipality are on the Board and would be swiftly unseated should they battle the establishment of the ACFM.
What I would love to see are copious newspaper pieces, national magazine articles and an international declaration announcing the ACFM to the world-at-large.
Folk Music propagators.
A ‘hall of fame’ and museum to preserve and protect the
Music of Folks.
Beacon. Where else?
Because Pete claimed the town as his home. He’s gone so….take the city!
I’m fine with watching the snail’s pace from afar. I understand how this works (a little)
I’m just concerned that some schmuck in New York or Nashville with his own deep pockets and a team of pencil pushers will file for his own 501(c)3 tax shelter and take the ball and run.
When I first heard of the concept of a museum coming to Beacon, I thought- ‘They’re gonna have a tough time keeping me outta there. The next vision was of having a big concert free to the People with big sponsors and advertisers showcasing originals like Joan Baez or Judy Collins to make headlines. It’s Folk Music. No one should be trying to re-invent the wheel here.
Dia:Beacon commandeered the town by taking over a beautiful old factory by the river and utilized the 400,000 sq. Ft. to house their collection. They now have thousands of visitors per month because they are…well… ‘’Dia:Beacon’’ the only game in town for that genre of art.
The Baseball HOF didn’t start out with a lot (one baseball which may actually be a fraud) but their message to the world was clear: Cooperstown is the permanent home of the institution of Baseball. No definition of ‘baseball’ was given or needed.
Shall we talk about the hotel, eatery, memorabilia and cottage industry in upstate New York’s Leatherstocking region? The sport of baseball was organized almost 175 years ago but Cooperstown was declared home only in 1939. They beat everybody to the punch.
I understand that one can only polish up a turd so many times before it crumbles. Beacon is that turd (and my personal whipping boy) but it can be polished. Dress that bitch up!!
Industry will morph around such a majestic idea to bring Folk Music there for good. I’ll donate my action and time to help out and I’ll mark my words here now and say ‘I told you so’ when hotels and allied trades start springing up, down by the river, north and south of Beacon. When Main Street is clogged with Zipcars, you’ll have me to thank for it. It’s not my problem. I know the back roads. Every new visitor brings their wallet, dig?
One last say
The meeting on Jan 29th diverted needlessly off for 30 minutes trying to define what Folk Music is and what should be preserved there. Wasted life we’ll never regain. (There is no ‘there’ there yet)
I suggested that they should appoint a committee and enshrine TWENTY FIVE inaugural ‘Hall of Famers’ that define and set their parameters of who is worthy. They shouldn’t bother with defining what Folk Music is.
Mainly, the discussion surrounded around how to exclude Rap or Hip Hop. (Good luck trying to please people with THAT) First of all, Hip Hop itself doesn’t have a clear definition. I’m no fan of Gangsta Rap and much of its close relatives. BUT I loves me some Beastie Boys. I loves me some ‘Old School’ Rap because the sound depicts a ‘cultural environment.’ The sound of certain ditties scream ‘1980’ or ‘Compton, CA’ and there is no organization that should decide for the rest of us that it doesn’t.
I got your definition right here:
AMERICAN narrows the field.
FOLK as in Humans.
MUSIC as in everything ever played live on Bleecker and/or Macdougal Street.
To that end, I am emphatically stating here now that POETS MUST BE INCLUDED. The words carefully chosen by Langston Hughes, Lenny Bruce and Jack Kerouac sound fluid like a SONG. How dare someone open an American Folk museum and exclude them. Shame. I’ll almost turn my back on this place if they keep poets out.
America’s greatest bandleader, Duke Ellington, has already given the ACFM the green light. He was quoted as saying ‘’All Music is Folk Music.’’ Shall we argue?
So to those who still wish to waste precious time defining it, I say, you’re too fucking late! We don’t need a HOF that exists only on paper to dictate a definition in a press release for all to study and memorize. Thank you.
Folk Music is ETHNIC Music. It’s shared language that stems (present tense) from an environment where People share a given set of circumstances. Is that clear?
The year 1860 was a ‘given set’ of circumstances.
1960- same thing.
2017 IS a ‘given set’ of shared experience.
Ethnic Music of the Folk variety may include:
The Beastie Boys
The Sugar Hill Gang
And many other crossover acts who were cutting edge in their time who performed forgotten songs and brought original music, poems and words to art lovers.
In another blog, I’ll submit my nominees for the 25 names that should be enshrined someday in the ACFM.
To wit, I suggest a colossal Hip Hop artist who, in his time, redefined Black culture.
PS- The American Center FOR Folk Music is different from
That was Grandpa's place
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Friday, February 17, 2017
Below is a page out of Izzy Young's journal.
The date was February 16, 1960.
Logan English was the Emcee and, likely, warm up act in front
of Charlotte Daniels.
Izzy was just in month 2 of booking music at the new club
on West 4th and Mercer.
Izzy had his finger on the pulse of the Folk Music scene
in America at the time.
He took great care in documenting the 'who and what' was happening
at every show.
Along with counting heads and dollars, he made note
of special personalities coming in to watch
and potentially sit in for a guest set.
You'll see here in this scan that a young musician from the Boston area
had made her first visit to Mike Porco's restaurant.
For the first 5 months
the club was called THE FIFTH PEG at Gerde's.
Miss Joan would eventually make her name widely known
by performing on much greater stages.
It was at Gerde's where she met a boy named Bobby
about a year later.
This was her first visit to
New York's Center of Folk Music.
Monday, January 30, 2017
If you’ve never spent 18 minutes and 7 seconds with Izzy Young, here’s your chance.
The Folklore Center founder and Folk Music impresario was flown to New York in June of 2015 to enjoy the praise and accolades heaped upon him by the Museum of the City of New York. He was a vital part of the Greenwich Village ‘scene’ and his work was rightly recognized throughout the FOLK CITY exhibit.
While in New York, former Phil Ochs roommate Dave Peller and I took Izzy around town and spent two days at the great Clearwater Festival. Here’s some of what transpired in the wee hours.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Israel G. Young
Oscar S. Brand
It's a tough decision
but I've made it.
The guitar you see above is up for grabs.
Arrangements and bids may be submitted at email@example.com
That is a line to me, your gracious host on this blog, Bob Porco.
Consider it a gift for the one who has everything else.
My Christmas shopping is done, thankfully. The funds are not for me.
The funds raised with this sacrifice will go directly to the
Music Supervisor for my wonderful film
Here's the trailer
I've been AT IT for a good many years now.
(filming started in 2013)
The CONTENT for the film is astounding.
The concept has been adopted by deep pocketed executives however...
THE DOCUMENTARY FILM business moves slower than molasses
on a glacier.
the first 'phase' of the big push is actually based
on a film SOUNDTRACK.
FYI, I've lined up the best of the best to help out
and otherwise involve themselves in this
world changing collection of songs and singers.
My Guitar, signed by some of the most vital figures of the
Greenwich Village scene, will FUND the foundation
of my precious project.
The afore mentioned 'deep pockets' shall be
funding the film production.
MONEY FOR THE SOUNDTRACK
TO END ALL SOUNDTRACKS
It's not a 'project' to me. I live it. I know and respect these people.
I have a responsibility to them, not only the people who
may one day buy the soundtrack.
But in working for them, I directly work for their
fans and we all share the music created along the way.
Israel G. Young
Oscar S. Brand
Bid starts at $25,000
was signed at The Museum of the City of New York
in June 2015.
There is only one.
I was going to present it in my living room for my guests to see
but now it makes sense (and dollars)
to auction it. So long, ol' buddy.
If bids don't reach the minimum, I keep it. No loss.
Arrangements may be discussed with Bob Porco
NO CROWD FUNDING
One care taker for this guitar.
Producer credit given in film
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Our man, Israel Goodman Young will attend tonight's Nobel prize banquet held in honor of the 2016 winners.
As the story below says: Izzy is himself. Rrcognition in the New York Times in his 89th year is nice but reasons for the decades of praise heaped upon him by his famous friends cannot be summed up in even a lengthy article. His heart is gold. His selfless support for the artist of Greenwich Village can hardly be explained by a dying "newspaper" but at least they tried. More attention should be paid to his deeds.
And more attention should be paid to Mr. Dylan's body of work. Yes. EVEN MORE. Awarding a prize 55 years too late does not excuse them and I'm eager to hear the "statement" Mr. Bob gives them tonight. I'm sure it will be graceful despite the fact that the Nobel committee has discredited themselves in recent years by rewarding warmongers and charlatins. Good for Bob Dylan that he shouldn't go outta his way.
But I am enormously happy that Izzy will be there in tux and tails tonight. This prize can be partially claimed by him and he has lived to see the day. Viva Izzy!
I am fortunate to call Izzy my friend and have been lucky enough to read some of his journals before the Library of Congress aqcuired them. In time, the world will know that it is Izzy who deserves all awards and prizes in poetry and prose and all things Folk.
Settled in Sweden, the Man Who First Booked Dylan
Israel Young, known as Izzy, at his store in Stockholm. Mr. Young arranged Bob Dylan’s first concert in New York City in 1961.
By REBECCA ROSMAN
DECEMBER 7, 2016
STOCKHOLM — Bob Dylan won’t be visiting Sweden this week to accept the Nobel Prize in Literature, though he has sent a speech in his absence. The news of his no-show at the ceremony on Saturday disappointed fans — as well as one resident here who has old ties to rock’s poet laureate: Israel Goodman Young, the man who gave Mr. Dylan his first New York concert.
Mr. Young was the folk enthusiast who made possible the $2 tickets to Mr. Dylan’s Nov. 4, 1961, gig at Carnegie Chapter Hall; only about 50 people attended, but the event has earned its place in rock ’n’ roll history as Mr. Dylan’s first big break.
Mr. Young has lived in Sweden for more than 35 years and, at 88, takes a bus and a train every day to reach his Folklore Centrum in the Södermalm neighborhood of Stockholm. Part performance space, part treasure trove of memorabilia, this modest shop could be mistaken for an old living room, with dust blanketing the used hardcovers lining the shelves. This emporium is his second act; its first iteration on Macdougal Street was the epicenter of Greenwich Village’s 1960s folk music scene.
Mr. Young, known as Izzy, said that he didn’t regret being associated with that seminal show, but that he wished people’s memories of his career went beyond it.
Bob Dylan “is the only thing people remember me for,” he said with a shrug as he recounted their relationship one recent afternoon at his store.
Mr. Dylan was a regular customer at Mr. Young’s original Folklore Center, and his little-known song “Talking Folklore Center” described the lure of the place.
“His voice was like a bulldozer and always seemed too loud for the little room,” Mr. Dylan wrote of Mr. Young in his 2004 memoir, “Chronicles.” “Izzy was always a little rattled over something or other. He was sloppily good-natured. In reality, a romantic.”
Two years ago, when John Schulman, a book collector in Pittsburgh, sought rare archives documenting the 1960s New York folk scene, he contacted Mr. Young to see if he would sell some items he had collected — perhaps books, manuscripts, photographs or tape recordings — to the Library of Congress.
But then, a friend of Mr. Young’s intervened.
“I said, listen, that’s not what’s valuable here,” recalled Edward Bromberg, who first met Mr. Young in Stockholm more than 30 years ago. Mr. Bromberg told Mr. Schulman of Mr. Young’s diaries, which included details from that folk scene that are otherwise inaccessible. “He’s the Samuel Pepys of the Village,” Mr. Bromberg said.
Mr. Young, around 1960, at his Folklore Center at 110 Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village.
DAVID GAHR, VIA LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Mr. Young’s journals are a mix of poetry, anxiety, ramblings and notes on just about everyone who came through his store — and just about everyone did.
In one entry, Mr. Young describes traveling with the music manager Albert Grossman to Canada in 1962, where he heard Joni Mitchellsing for the first time and invited her to play in New York. In another, he writes of a young Tim Buckley humbly hesitating to accept payment after a performance at the Folklore Center, eventually taking the money, only to spend it on a cab ride home.
Mr. Young sold his archives to the Library of Congress for an undisclosed sum, and they are now being sorted and cataloged at the library’s American Folklife Center; eventually, they will be made at least partly available online. In addition to the diaries, they include tape recordings, including one of a 20-year-old Patti Smith reading poetry, as well as homemade posters Mr. Young drew.
Mr. Young, a native New Yorker, credits his lengthy career in music to a random encounter with dance. When he was in his 20s, he had planned to take a date stargazing. After the skies turned overcast, she suggested that they attend a square-dancing class. “Within three or four weeks, I was the best one in the room,” he recalled proudly.
From there, Mr. Young began reading folk poetry and hanging out in the like-minded circles then brewing around the Village. He built a small mail-order business selling folk books he collected.
The Folklore Center poster for Bob Dylan’s 1961 Carnegie Hall performance.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
In 1957, a friend told him about a shop for rent; if he wanted to sell books, he might like his own store. But the owner wanted a $400 cash deposit immediately.
Mr. Young scraped together the money and ran to 110 Macdougal Street, where he signed the lease. He became known for his loud, brash persona, but also for his big heart and genuine interest in artists and their work.
Mr. Young sold books and music on everything folk, but he would let customers stay for hours without pressuring them. He would also organize small concerts at the back of the store.
“He was just very generous, which went along with the communal spirit of the neighborhood,” said Stephen Petrus, an author of “Folk City: New York and the American Folk Music Revival.”
Mr. Young, Mr. Petrus said, was “happy to promote people, and he liked being the M.C. at a concert,” adding that “he wasn’t really looking for a profit.”
Images on a wall at Mr. Young’s Folklore Centrum in Stockholm.
CASPER HEDBERG FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES
Mr. Young estimates that he hosted around 1,000 concerts at or near the Folklore Center, including performances by Tom Paley, Mr. Buckley, Emmylou Harris and Ms. Mitchell.
Mr. Young has used the archive sale to keep his Stockholm center running. Brian Kramer, a friend who hosts a blues guitar course there, described him as “telepathically honest in a brutal but brilliant way.” He added, “But he’s exactly himself, and he loves music.”
His relatively quiet life in Sweden was interrupted in October, when the announcement of Mr. Dylan’s Nobel Prize had his phone ringing off the hook.
“People were calling Izzy’s, trying to see how they could get in touch with Dylan’s publicist,” Mr. Bromberg said.
At one point, Mr. Bromberg added, the Swedish Academy called Mr. Young for Mr. Dylan’s contact information — they were trying to notify him of his award.
Regrettably, Mr. Young said, he no longer had any.
Monday, November 21, 2016
My sincere THANKS to those who entered the contest.
It was launched in August to encourage writers to pen a song of UNITY.
The rules were adjusted to allow ANY artist, not just duos or groups, to submit an entry.
I'm happy to announce the winner of the very first MIKE PORCO SONG INITIATIVE is:
Mr. JOE VIRGA
Joe wins studio time to record his song and to make a VINYL pressing.
Stay tuned for more details on the release.
For now, here are Joe's lyrics.
WELL DONE, JOE!
|Rod MacDonald, Joe Virga, Frank Christian, Guy Davis|
at the Folk City at 50h Anniversary
June 7, 2010
LET'S LIGHT A CANDLEJoe Virgacapo 2 = AIntro: G Am D7 GGLet's light a candle for the old and insecure.DLet's light a candle for the homeless and the poor.B7 C Em ALet's light a candle for what we're living for.G D GLet's light a candle for love.Let's light a candle for the children who were slain.Let's light a candle for their parents who remain.Let's light a candle for a world that's gone insane.Let's light a candle for love.G7 CThe simple act of lighting a candle.Em D CShines a beacon in the dark.Em B C C/GThere's not a sorrow we can't handle.G DWith faith burning in our hearts.Let's light a candle for those who died in war.Let's light a candle and lay down the sword.Let's light a candle, peace is our reward.C B CAnd if there's a God above.G DThen He would light a candle.Bm CI'm sure He would light a candle.G D C GHe would light a candle... with love.Outro: G Am D7 G
Thursday, November 3, 2016
This is a small portion of rough cut 5.0 from the Folkumentary on Gerde's Folk City and my grandfather, Mike Porco.
This is an audio teaser. The film, when complete, will certainly astound you and please the Folk gods.
Thanks to Ratso Sloman, John P. Hammond, Sonny Ochs, Terre Roche, Alan Wasser and Dan Behrman (for providing Mike Porco's voice from 1979). Thanks to David Massengill and Elijah Wald (The Mayor of Macdougal Street)
FILM UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Friday, October 28, 2016
Eventually was converted into FOLK CITY after Izzy Young and Man-of-Mystery Tom Prendergast convinced MIKE PORCO to add a stage and a PA system to his humble red sauce Restaurant named Gerde's.
Below are some notes taken by Izzy between January and May 1960.
(NOTE the people showing up. Art and Paul AKA Tom and Jerry AKA Simon and Garfunkel)
(Courtesy Dave Peller, Archivist)