Wednesday, March 21, 2012


116 MacDougal Street, NYC
Saturday, March 24

Erik Frandsen gets his bread buttered from acting jobs these days, but acting is only one of the many talents he's manifested over the last 4 decades. As a teenager, he would travel into New York City to see and hear performances by some of the most influential Blues and Acoustic guitar greats ever to play Greenwich Village. By the mid-1960s, he had become one of those very people himself.

Another future Village legend, David Bromberg, went to the same high school with Erik. They sometimes would come down on the train from Tarrytown, NY to watch the amazing flat picking talents of Doc Watson. Erik remembers seeing Doc Watson perform at Gerde's Folk City just as Acoustic Folk and Blues music had completely wrestled the Village away from the Beat Society. A year older than Frandsen, Bromberg would be the first of the schoolmates to be hired by Mike Porco to perform at Folk City's hallowed confines on West 4th Street. Erik would headline eventually in 1966. Not long after that, Bromberg would go into the studio with Gerde's favorite son, Bob Dylan, to record with him on Self Portrait and New Morning. Erik would get his invitation from Dylan in 1976 to record, what became an outtake from the Desire sessions, "Catfish."

Along the way, Erik Frandsen had "earned his bones" working coast-to-coast as an accompanist, mainly to leading musician, Patrick Sky. Pat Sky left the music business in 1975, but Erik continued to work, not only as a touring musician, but as a playwright and actor. Acting is where Frandsen's true passion lies, but his encyclopedic song repertoire is as unique as his presentation of it on stage. Part comedy routine, part story-hour and part theater, his stage show is a sight to behold. As an oft used emcee at Folk City and many other clubs in The Village, Erik knows how to entertain crowds from all walks of life. It's his musicianship on guitar that makes people sit up and take notice. As his fingers crawl across the fretboard, he weaves original and traditional songs of lost love, witticism, romance in rhyme like few others ever to take the stage in Greenwich Village.


Oscar Isaac is a name that will soon be known more widely than just New York and Hollywood once Inside Llewyn Davis hits theaters. The Coen Brothers handpicked him to star in their ode to the Greenwich Village music scene for more than just his ability to play guitar on film. Oscar's standout performances in Robin Hood with Russell Crowe and Drive with Ryan Gosling surely had something to do with it. His characters "jump off the screen" as the viewer can plainly see that he is an actor who pours all that he is into his roles.

Being given the title character to play, Isaac has an opportunity to use his first leading role as a springboard to much greater success. He'll be supported in this movie by Justin Timberlake, John Goodman and F. Murray Abraham. All the characters in the movie (to be released in 2013), have roles replicating some of the most important figures in Greenwich Village during the Blues and Folk Revival of the 1960s. The Coens have taken artistic liberty by condensing some instances and events into a setting lasting one week and have only twisted some names slightly. In the movie, there is a "Jim and Jean," a Grossman character and, I'm told, a club owner with the last name of Porco (Hmmmm). Other than Bob Dylan, perhaps no other figure represents the scene in New York more succinctly than Dave Van Ronk. The screenplay for Inside Llewyn Davis has been adapted for Hollywood by the Coen Brothers using Dave Van Ronk's autobiography as a guide. Portraying a Van Ronk-type character means portraying "The Mayor of MacDougal Street."

Van Ronk was the resident master of ceremonies at the original Gaslight Cafe taking over the reigns from another luminary, Noel Stookey (Noel is better known as "Paul" in the trio Peter, Paul and Mary…but you don't need me to tell you that). It was there that Dave Van Ronk sized up, evaluated and corralled the brightest young Folk stars of the day and it was there where one could see him perform every week alongside some of the biggest names on the Folk and Blues circuit at the time. Many of the same musicians that played for my grandfather at Gerde's also performed for a hat full of dollars and quarters at the coffee-only Gaslight. Along with Dylan, names like José Feliciano, John P. Hammond, Phil Ochs, Peter Yarrow, Tom Paxton, Len Chandler, Happy and Artie Traum, Pat Sky, Buffy Sainte Marie, Danny Kalb and many others made the Gaslight world famous.


On Saturday, March 24th, Erik Frandsen and musician and actor buddy Oscar Isaac will add their names to the venue's historic line of stars and stalwarts of acoustic music. The new owners of 116 MacDougal pride themselves on offering professional musical events that are faithful to the former Gaslight's history. Oscar and Erik know how to bring life to the songs and sounds that made the Village great. But perhaps the most novel fact about this show is that it will be held in the very same space once occupied by the original Village Gaslight Cafe. The basement club has gone through many changes over the years, and is now trying to recapture attention as a place where people can go and hear live Folk, Roots and Blues in a living landmark. FRIENDS OF MIKE PORCO is committed to bringing the veterans of New York Folk together on stage with the younger generation of passionate musicians for older and newer audiences alike. Come and enjoy!!




  1. "Rumor has it, the bar next door, the Kettle of Fish, would close its doors when the young folkie from Hibbing, Minnesota would play a set of songs he was working on"

    Not a rumor, I was there and it DID happen and it happened EVERY time Bob went in there, even just to hang out!!

    Here is a recent post I wrote on Facebook:

    1965 Gaslight Cafe and Mac Dougal Street Me a 19 yr old kid that had moved to Manhattan and started to hang out in the Village Every week a different discovery, Eric Andersen, Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk, Richie Havens, Jose Feliciano, Jim and Jean, Tom Paxton, Partick Sky, Peter LaFarge, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Pete Seeger, Janis Fink (Ian), Happy Traum and Artie Traum, Gil Turner, Fred Neil, David Blue, Danny Kalb,Mark Spoelstra, Len Chandler,Mimi and Richard, a kid named Bobby. It was THE BEST OF TIMES and served as a foundation for my love of music.

    The Kettle of Fish was the bar of choice and it was right next door to the Gaslight. Everyone was welcome. They only locked the door when Bobby D. was inside. 24 years old and he was getting the star treatment!!!

    A tipsy Phil Ochs once accused me of trying to pick up his wife in The Kettle. Me, a 19 year old Jewish, wet around the ears kid who grew up on Long Island!!!!!

    Id love to be there this week, but I am a Sabbath observer and sundown on Saturday is too late Another time I hope!!

    Bruce Bernfeld

  2. How great were those days. Thanks, to the new Gaslight team, and thanks, Bob, for keeping it all moving

  3. Nice! I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

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