Monday, April 26, 2010

A little background on Mike Porco

Michele had worked in the rural province of Calabria since the age of eight when his father apprenticed him to a carpenter. It was hardly uncommon for pre-teens of the old world to have their vocation decided for them by their parents and Michele proved to be a fast learner and a patient woodworker. Young Michele (pronounced Mick-EL-eh) continued with school but it was clear to Angelo Porco that his son's abilities were best displayed by his handy work. His early calling was in the fine skill of cabinet making and he was proficient enough in that trade that by age 16, he had opened his own shop making cabinets and doing woodworking jobs for the townsfolk.

Just two months beyond his 18th birthday, Michele received a long awaited post from New York where his father had gone months before. In it, Angelo summoned his eldest Son to leave his mother and three siblings behind to be with his father and fashion a new life in America. Michele, like millions of European immigrants before him, had dreams of inventing himself in the Land of Opportunity. The only promise he had was from his father saying in the letter that he would meet him at the pier when his ship came in to new York.

Finally, the day planned by his father was upon Michele. In January of 1933 he packed a trunk bound for glory and rode a train 450 miles up the Mediterranean shoreline to Genoa.

The work-strong Michele dreamt of making his way in America the way many of his cousins did before him. He and his father had known of several families that had already settled in New York City from their homeland in Calabria. Michele's father had shuttled back and forth during the last decade to work with extended family members and Angelo had plans to enhance the Porco family's prospects by adding a hardworking wage earner. Armed with little more than half a lifetime's experience in a trade and a wealth of ambition, he readied himself for the adventure of his life. He would later Americanize his name, simply, to Mike.

The Conte di Sevioa arrived in New York harbor in the early hours of the 2nd day of February. The forecast called for a sunny day according to the New York Times. Now with his official papers in hand, Michele was eager to reunite with his father; an event he envisioned happening over the course of transversing the 4600 mile trip to the America.

The melee of welcomers and new arrivals was just another everyday occurrence for the Immigration workers on the pier. For Michele, it was a maddening chore trying to find his father's face in the crowd. Finally, a familiar voice cried out his name from a distance. Again the voice called for 'Michele'. Michele stopped in his tracks unsure of why it wasn't his father's voice. It was a passing thought. He soon recognized the voice of his uncle getting louder as he neared his space. A joyous hug and a tear of a bittersweet welcome accompanied with an awkward silence unexpected by Young Porco.

Tio Luigi had dreaded this heart-wrenching moment. He had to find a way to welcome his kin to the New World and, in the very next breath, tell the boy that his father had died shortly after sending his last letter home to Italy.

The definition of Mike's new beginnings in America had now been instantly altered into a challenge to not only start from scratch but to make his way virtually on his own.

He would have little time to mourn as his fate awaited him in the morning of tomorrow. His fighting spirit surely took a devastating blow from behind on the pier that day but perhaps it was from this absolute emotional bottom that Mike Porco cultivated a level of quiet determination that he would harness and use for the rest of his life in New York. Here at the lowest point of his young life, little could he expect that he would one day play a crucial role in facilitating the revival of a musical movement that would define American society for decades to come.

Mike would eventually offer a stage and a week's pay to every singer-songwriter who was able to muster up "a following." They came from all over the country in hopes of becoming a star in Greenwich Village. But first Mike had to pick himself up and follow his own star.
Copyright 2010 Bob Porco

General Info

Fifty years ago, Mike Porco added live Folk Music to the menu of his Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village . The rest became American Music History.

Virtually overnight, Gerdes Folk City became the most coveted gig by every hopefull singer/songwriter to make their way to New York . It was the home of New York 's original Hootenanny now commonly known as open mic. Gerdes offered a stage for aspiring stars to make their names known....and many of them did.

The list of those who cut their teeth at Gerdes reads like a who's-who of American Folk and Folk Rock royalty: Arlo Guthrie, Richie Havens, Judy Collins, Simon and Garfunkel, Jose Feliciano, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nile, Steve Forbert, The Roches, Peter, Paul and Mary, Phoebe Snow, David Massengill, Rod MacDonald, Lili Añel, Carly Simon and, of course, Bobby Dylan.

Now, for one night only, many of them are "Bringing it All Back Home" to Gerdes' last stop in The Village for a music filled reunion. This will be the "kickoff" gathering beginning a year of celebrating Folk Music's 50th year of finding a home in New York City.

You're invited to come experience the Folk City at Fifty Anniversary reunion featuring over two dozen live performances by those who made Gerdes what it was...and still is.

WHERE: 130 West 3rd NYC.(now the Fat Black Pussycat)

WHEN: June 7th 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bootleggin' it


As any Folk City Hootenanny would be. Kindness to your server is always appreciated.

But there are costs involved, namely, to have professional sound, stage and photographers there to capture a day in the life of all of us.
The link below is a site where we can pool funds to ensure a quality BOOTLEG is made of the June 7 Über-Hoot.

We have 50+ days to raise our goal through this "venue" website. Please help make it possible for those who can't be there to enjoy the amazing performances. Those who donate recieve a free copy before mastering. Those who donate make the polished BOOTLEG album possible.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Split down the middle

The radio spot with Bob Fass went as well as could be. Many thanks to David Massengill for putting on such a nice late night/early morning performance. Go to the archive page if you wish to hear.

Radio unnamable friday april 16th
we show up about the 1hour 35 minute mark

Some confirmed performer's names were exposed on air for the first time publically.

Allow me to tease you a bit with some names....

Willie Nile
Mark Johnson
Vince Martin
Bev Grant
Peter Stampfel
Randy Burns
Rod MacDonald
David Massengill
Jonathan Kalb
Jack Hardy
Bob Horan
Biff Rose
Lili Añel
Dominic Chianese
Roger Sprung................

So there you go.....

Just a sampling of the unique and diverse lineup we're planning for June 7th

Mountain Folk
Folk Rock
Eclectic undefinable stuff
Even a taste of Latin and Old World

As I said, we're over 2 dozen acts for the one-time event. As of this moment, the number of acts coming over for to be part of the show is closer to 30 than 25. It's sort of split right down the middle as far as Old and New Guard. Pretty cool, Huh?

Am I splitting hairs saying it like that....? Not if the next act splits the headline!!! Too much free music for you to handle for one night??

Let's figure out how to take it all in together, shall we...?

Don't see your name??? RSVP TODAY!!!!!

And those who have already, DOUBLE SECRET CONFIRM WITH ME AGAIN

Those of you who came to this blog thru facebook.....please spread the word in your own way. Let's make sure the place is filled for the Über-HOOT!!!!

Thanks. Bob

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Talkin' Gerdes on WBAI TONIGHT

Tune in to 99.5 FM in the NYC listening area to here David Massengill and I sit in with radio legend Bob Fass to discuss Gerdes and Mike and whatever springs up from there. Show starts at midnight Thursday. David and I will join in around 1AM.

Archive can be found the next day on

Thursday, April 8, 2010



It's a monster.

Word is traveling far and wide...thanks to technology. Emails on the run...bloggin' and facebookin'...excited performers passing word on around the country...sure looks like I'm doing a lot but really it's the musicians and patrons who loved their time at Folk City who have injected LIFE into this gathering...or perhaps it's the musicians and patrons who loved Mike and John. Jury's out.

Anyway, let me humbly say THANKS

And just a bit more info for now:

The Village Underground (Downstairs of the old Gerdes at 130 W3rd) has a complete stage set up. House keyboards, bass and guitar amps, mic's, bongos...the whole enchilada.

Upstairs (ground level) will likely be for schmoozing, jamming and acoustics.

Show time likely 7ish..8ish til whenever-ish.

Confirming acts all this month...Eclectic, historic, diverse, one-of-a-kind line up to be splashed on this blog soon (I promise!)

Check Back...keep passing it on!!