Monday, April 30, 2012



Almost 40 years exactly since his passing, the music and style of Rev. Gary Davis will be honored by two of his former friends and students.
JOIN US for another historic event at the original Gaslight Cafe on MacDougal Street NYC hosted by FRIENDS OF MIKE PORCO.

STEFAN GROSSMAN and ROY BOOK BINDER will commemorate the life and work of one of Greenwich Village's most influential Blues guitarists. REVEREND GARY DAVIS taught Blues guitar to many artists who would go on to become household names; Dave Van Ronk, David Bromberg and Bob Weir to name a few.

Born and raised in Queens, New York, Roy Book Binder bought his first guitar in Italy while serving in the Navy. Upon his return to New York, he met one of his lifelong friends, Dave Van Ronk. Binder later became a student of Reverend Davis and later his chauffeur and tour companion. Much of Binder's original material was based on his time on the road with Davis.

Book Binder has been described as a "guitar pickin' hillbilly bluesman," and has been touring the country since his first of 11 album releases in 1971.

Born in Brooklyn, and brought up in Queens, New York, Stefan Grossman began playing guitar at the age of nine. His interest in the Folk revival was sparked by attending the Washington Square Park "Hoots."

He took guitar lessons for several years from Rev. Gary Davis, whom he later described as "one of the greatest exponents of fingerstyle blues and gospel guitar playing" and "an incredible genius as a teacher." He spent countless hours learning and documenting Davis's music releasing the seminal 3 disc "Rev. Gary Davis Live at Gerde's Folk City" recorded in 1962.

In 1964, Grossman and a group of friends formed the Even Dozen Jug Band. Other members had successful musical careers including Steve Katz (Blood, Sweat & Tears), John Sebastian (The Lovin' Spoonful), Joshua Rifkin and Maria Muldour.

With his friend Rory Block and also Mike Cooper, he produced and released one of the earliest (if not the very first) guitar instructional LPs, How To Play Blues Guitar and began the publication of a five volume series of instructional books.

He returned to the road in 2006 and tonight, Stefan joins Roy in celebrating the life of a man with no peer- Reverend Gary Davis.
Please do yourself a favor and include yourself in the company of such devoted deciples of one of the revered and influential Blues geniuses ever to make New York his home.

Tickets are $25 here in advance. $30 at the door. SEATING IS LIMITED

Doors open at 5PM

Two-for-one drink specials 5PM to 7PM. Showtime is 7 sharp.

Buy advance tickets HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Perhaps it would be best to allow someone else review last night's show with Randy Burns and David Massengill. What a night! They brought their A-game and it was fun to watch them pour it all out for us to enjoy. Here's Frank Beacham's fine blog. And should you ever want to get an idea of what you missed, here's the link for complete video of the event which streamed for all to see live. (Photos Frank Beacham)

Thursday, April 26, 2012


A mere month after the release of his very first album, Bob Dylan begins a week's engagement at the place where it all began for him; Gerde's Folk City. (This is the Village Voice ad that ran that week...sorry for poor quality if pic)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


THIS DATE in Gerde's illustrious history, Bobby Dylan plays his first "real" gig in New York opening up for the great Blues man, John Lee Hooker. Just weeks before, Dylan né Zimmerman had to make his choice of a professional stage name. To this day, he is referred to as Bobby by those who know him, but back then, he decided for the more solid BOB. (Could it play a role in naming a future double album Blonde On Blonde...? Or perhaps why he has taken the stage with his Never Ending Band on his Never Ending Tour closer to 8:08 more often than not...? Let's ask him.)

BACK TO 1961

The first gig was set up by Bobby's first agent/manager, Terri Thal. The library is full of names that may have possibly arranged Dylan's first five day booking, but it was Terri. You read it here first. Ask Terri.

Now, she didn't do it all alone, mind you. She had a husband named Dave Van Ronk who had been poking and prodding my grandfather Mike Porco for weeks to give the kid a shot. Additionally, many of the other performers and newly found friends of the Dylan character had also been giving Mike encouragement to give him some time on the legendary stage. Van Ronk later recalled, "Terri signed Bobby early. Nobody wanted to touch him with a ten-foot pole. He was too raw."

Mike Porco was interviewed several times about the history of his cabaret, and often he would retell some parts of how the events of this week transpired. One of those stories was relayed to Robbie Woliver who bought Folk City from Porco in 1980. The following can be found in his book, Bringing it All Back Home (Pantheon 1986):

"He was a nice kid. He didn't look wild. He didn't argue with anybody. He would stand on the side like a little orphan. I sympathized with his manners, the way he handled himself. Then I heard the songs and I liked them.

"When he got through singing one night I called him into the kitchen, which was my office. I said, "You did a nice set, Bobby. Tell me, would you like to work a couple weeks?" He said "With who?" I said, "With John Lee Hooker." "Ooh yeah!" he said. "Ooh Mike," he said, "great, great oh man, great." So I told him, the only thing is you gotta join the Union. Otherwise the Union comes in and won't let you play. You come tomorrow and we'll go down to the Union. I know some people up there, so I'll go up there with you." "Oh," he said, "great, Mike."

"I called up my friend Mike, the head of the Local 802. "I have a young kid who one of these days you're gonna read about. He's gonna be a big star."

...The man says, "Robert, Mike told me you're gonna be a future star. You're gonna be great. Tell me the truth-what will you do when you become big?" So Bobby looked to him to say, "I don't know." Then he filled out the application. (The man) told him to come the next day with his mother because he was only twenty. Bobby said, "I ain't got no mother." The man said, "That's all right. Come with your father." Bobby said, "I ain't got no father either." The man looks on his application and looked at me and whispered, "What is he, a bastard?"

So the man said, "I can't give you the contract because you have to be twenty-one...unless some legal guardian wants to sign." He said to me, "Mike do you want to sign it as his guardian?" I said, "Bobby, do you want me to sign it?" Bobby said, "Oh sure, Mike. I would appreciate it." So I signed his contract as his guardian.

So he played that show. He did the same as anybody else. They didn't break the doors down to come in. John Lee Hooker was the headliner and Bobby didn't get the applause John Lee Hooker got. But he built up a following from that show.

I told Bob Shelton I was booking him again and Shelton told me to remind him so he can do an article. I almost forgot. I called him just the day before and told him Bobby was starting his gig the next day.

By the second show, people were telling other people, "You know, there's a good kid, Bob Dylan." So the word spread; but the write-up in the New York Times broke him through.

And in another treasure shared with me by the interviewer himself, radio personality Dan Behrman got Mike to reminisce the week of the Folk City 20 year anniversary week in December of 1979. Let Mike tell the story himself again:

Dan Behrman- How were they at the time? How was somebody like Bob Dylan or Phil Ochs? What kind of people were they? Were they shy…

Mike Porco - Well some they were. Some they were very forward. They were expecting more than they were deserving. But people like-a Dylan, he was a very, very shy type. He wouldn't say a word. He never asked me for the job, I had to ask him! A lot of people used to tell him, 'Why don't you ask Mike to give you a job. He can put you as an opening act?' But he never come in and tell me…

...I started listening to some of his songs. I used to pay a little attention to it. To my knowledge, I'm not an expert but it made-a sense. The words were-a pretty well put together. And I said, 'This guy may be able to draw great.' so finally I give him a job to open up for-a John Lee Hooker. That was April 1961.