Category Archives: Blues

Dave Van Ronk gets his long overdue time in the spotlight

Terri Thal and Dave Van Ronk at their home at 190 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, in August 1963 (Photo by Ann Charters, courtesy Terri Thal)

Terri Thal and Dave Van Ronk at their home at 190 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, in August 1963 (Photo by Ann Charters, courtesy Terri Thal)

Moviemakers Joel and Ethan Coen have gone to great lengths to let us know that their new movie, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” is not about Greenwich Village folksinger Dave Van Ronk.

The movie, which has been making the rounds of film festivals throughout the year and started playing in major cities a couple of weeks ago, opens nationwide  this Friday.

LEARN MORE about the real Dave Van Ronk

Terri Thal (© Martus Granirer 2013)

Terri Thal (© Martus Granirer 2013)



Check out the interview with Terri Thal I wrote for The Journal News.  Thal, a Rockland County woman who was married to him during the period covered in the film, and don’t miss her first-person account for the Village Voice.  And read Van Ronk’s memoir, “The Mayor of MacDougal Street.”





Yes, Llewyn Davis, as played wonderfully by actor and talented singer Oscar Isaac, affects a Van Ronk look of sorts with his facial hair. And yes, many people, me included, took to calling the flick in early days the “Dave Van Ronk movie.” (That probably was before it had gotten a formal title.) Continue reading

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The Walking Dead? Maxwell’s planning to reopen in Hoboken

Preparing for the wake at Maxwell's on July 31, 11th Street next to the club was blocked off. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Preparing for the “wake” at Maxwell’s on July 31, 11th Street next to the club was blocked off. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Something feels wrong — no, make that preposterous — about the idea of saying farewell to an old friend at a raucous wake only to see that friend return to the land of the living a matter of weeks later.

But that’s just what seems to be happening at Maxwell’s, the much-loved bar-restaurant-music venue in Hoboken, N.J.

Erica Seitzman/Facebook

(Erica Seitzman/Facebook)

The place has seen limited action — as a rain venue for a concert and a one-shot studio for a Justin Timberlake concert-cum-Target-commercial.

But over the Labor Day weekend, some eagle-eyed Hobokenites spotted “Help Wanted” posters seeking staff of the restaurant-bar.

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like I’m in the middle of an episode of “The Walking Dead,” which, if nothing else, has taught us that while the Walkers look like those we knew and loved, they’re not who they appear to be.

Maxwell's founder Steve Fallon, left, and booker/co-owner Todd Abramson at Maxwell's "wake." (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Maxwell’s founder Steve Fallon, left, and booker/co-owner Todd Abramson at Maxwell’s “wake.” (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

After 35 years, Maxwell’s closed on July 31 with a block party outside and a long evening of shows — punctuated by plenty of reminiscences and a few tears — inside the music room. The end came after Todd Abramson, co-owner, music booker and public face of the club, decided he’d had enough of the problems that come running such a business in the uber-gentrified Mile Square City.

Justin Timberlake's Maxwell's tweet.

Justin Timberlake’s Maxwell’s tweet.

On Aug. 8 — barely a week after the shutdown — the lights were back on and the restaurant was pressed into service to host a show by Swingadelic, originally scheduled for nearby Frank Sinatra Park. It was part of Hoboken Administrator of Cultural Affairs Geri Fallo‘s backup plan, the Cliffview Pilot reported, to avoid a rain-out.

It all made sense. First, Swingadelic’s founder is bassist Dave Post, who also happens to be a co-owner of Maxwell’s. Second, despite the extensive partying there in the club’s final days, the place apparently was left with a decent amount of quaffables to keep the bar stocked.

Then along came Timberlake, a musician who I’m guessing never set foot in Maxwell’s while it was in business.

Hundreds of fans lined up and then flooded the streets around Maxwell's in Hoboken where Justin Timberlake is filming a commercial for Target. Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. -- Joe Shine/For The Jersey Journal

Hundreds of fans lined up and then flooded the streets around Maxwell’s in Hoboken where Justin Timberlake is filming a commercial for Target. Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. — Joe Shine/For The Jersey Journal

His crew took over the empty club for a one night fan concert (well, a one-SONG appearance for a Target commercial) in the still-equipped music room. Thousands crowded the streets outside the shuttered club, The Jersey Journal reported. Fans weighed in effusively on Facebook and Twitter, often with disparaging comments.

Timberlake drew some particularly amusing snarkiness on Twitter from Yo La Tengo, a band that got its start in Hoboken and is indelibly linked to the club.

YLT Tweets

And now, there’s the reopening. Yes, Maxwell’s is hiring staff to reopen the bar and restaurant, but, apparently, not the music room.

Post tells Tris McCall of The Star-Ledger that Maxwell’s will reopen as a bar and restaurant only, staying in operation until the place sells. (The business and a 10-year lease can be yours for just $625,000.) He said he wasn’t sure when he’d be reopening.”Hopefully, it won’t take too long to make a sale,” Post told McCall. “But even if I sold Maxwell’s tomorrow, it would take 90 days for the license to transfer.”

The Star-Ledger reports that Abramson — who was a constant presence in the restaurant, seating diners, delivering orders and overseeing proceedings — is not involved in the reopening.

 

New collection skims the cream of Caffè Lena’s rich musical history

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Live At Caffè Lena: Music From America’s Legendary Coffeehouse, 1967-2013 is slated for release on Sept. 24.

A review of Live At Caffè Lena: Music From America’s Legendary Coffeehouse, 1967-2013, with buying and streaming links after the jump

I’ve always meant to visit the legendary Caffè Lena, the tiny coffeehouse at 47 Phila Street in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Devonsquare, the sweet-harmonizing folk-rock trio, first piqued my curiosity about Lena and Bill Spencer’s cafe (or caffè, as they dubbed it, using two f’s) with their song “Caffè Lena” on the  1987 album Walking on Ice.

Caffè Lena was a place of mythical proportions to me then. For one reason or another, I never found myself in Saratoga Springs.

After all, I live close to The Turning Point in Piermont, N.Y., a music cafe that is, while 16 years younger than Caffè Lena, has a similar mission and musical profile.

And then there was the Towne Crier in Pawling, N.Y.,  from 1972 until closing in June with plans to reopen soon in Beacon. That gave me a backup option just a bit farther afield than The Turning Point.

So  I never got myself motivated sufficiently to make the trek to Saratoga Springs.

I should have known I was missing out. And now the Tompkins Square record label has  shoved into my face some very real evidence of exactly how much I’ve missed. Continue reading

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion bring Wassaic Way to Saturday’s Wassaic Festival

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion at Wilco's Solid Sound Festival in 2011. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion at Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival in 2011. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion are making a Hudson Valley appearance on Saturday, Aug. 3 at the all-free Wassaic Festival in Dutchess County, which starts today and runs through Sunday (Aug. 2-4).

There’s something nice about hitting the namesake town in the early stages of touring their latest album, the seriously charming Wassaic Way. The husband-and-wife-duo (she’s daughter of Arlo Guthrie and granddaughter of Woody Guthrie) are really proud of the self-released album (which is to be released Aug. 6) they made with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Pat Sansone.

Stay tuned for a full interview with the creative couple. But for now, I just wanted to alert you to their gig coming Saturday. I’ve never been to the Wassaic Project, a center that aims to create context for art making and strengthening local community by increasing social and cultural capital through inspiration, promotion and creation of contemporary visual and performing art. It’s at the very last stop on Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem Line. This is the sixth year for the festival, a free, three-day event featuring art, music, dance, and community featuring over 100 artists, 25 bands, film screenings, dance performances and more.

If you go

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion perform at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug 3.,  on the Luther Barn Stage. The Wassaic Festival began today (Aug. 2)  with various art events. Music and dance start around 6 p.m. This wrap up Sunday with a community breakfast, kids events and more music.

The Wassaic Project is at The Maxon Mills,  37 Furnace Bank Road , Wassaic, NY 12592. It’s in walking distance of the Wassaic Metro-North station with connections from Grand Central Terminal. ADMISSION IS FREE, but tickets are required for some events. Check the full schedule here.

Americanarama Festival of Music: Bob Dylan, Wilco and My Morning Jacket in Bridgeport, Conn.

Bob Dylan at the Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, Conn., on July 19, 2013.(Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Bob Dylan gets sassy on the harmonica. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Nothing compares to your first time

When Bob Dylan hit the stage of the Webster Bank Arena on Friday night, July 19, I reached a major milestone.

It was my first time seeing the legend perform live.

Yes, you might think that given the underlying theme of this blog, I would have seen him before — probably many times.

Bob Dylan at the Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, Conn., on July 19, 2013.(Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Bob Dylan spent plenty of time playing the grand piano. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Sure, I treasure his music. I have many of his albums. A friend and neighbor of mine managed him once, way back before Albert Grossman hooked up with him.

But Dylan was playing arenas by the time I learned to care about him. And I just don’t like arena shows, the distance, the impersonality, the commercialism.

But when I saw the lineup for this summer’s touring Americanarama Festival of Music, I decided it was time to make an exception so that I could finally see Dylan. I figured that even if Bob was awful, I’d be able to cross him off my bucket list and still get plenty of value out of Wilco and My Morning Jacket. Continue reading

Jon Langford and a Maxwell’s memory lapse

The Jon Langford Threesome, from left, at Maxwell's: Tony Maimone, Steve Goulding, Jon Langford. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

The Jon Langford Threesome, from left, at Maxwell’s: Tony Maimone, Steve Goulding, Jon Langford. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Jon Langford looked truly puzzled on the stage of Maxwell’s.

The Jon Langford Threesome's set list at Maxwell's. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

The Jon Langford Threesome’s set list at Maxwell’s. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

The Welsh-born rocker has played at the Hoboken, N.J., club many times — “37 1/2… the half because tonight’s not done yet” — over the years in many bands, from the Mekons to the Three Johns.

On Tuesday, July 9, his show was billed as “Jon Langford’s Threesome feat. Tony Maimone and Steve Goulding performing Mekons, Waco Bros. and Jon Langford songs from throughout the centuries

“Did the Waco Brothers ever play here,” he asked, during a portion of the set where his cranked out several of that band’s best-loved tunes.

“Three times!” came the cry from the crowd.

The crowd gathers in the back room at Maxwell's for the Jon Langford Threesome. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

The crowd gathers in the back room at Maxwell’s for the Jon Langford Threesome. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Continue reading

The Dough Rollers defy expectations at Brooklyn Bowl

The Dough Rollers, Brooklyn Bowl, June 26, 2013, © 2013, Steven P. Marsh

The Dough Rollers perform at Brooklyn Bowl on June 26, 2013. (Photos © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

We don’t mind change. We may grow to love a band’s sound, but if it never evolves, a band can quickly becomes a parody of itself.

The Dough Rollers started off in 2008 as a high-concept conceit cooked up by two celebrity kids. Malcolm Ford (son of Harrison Ford) and Jack Byrne (son of Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin) bonded over the love of old blues music, and started playing together. Their act — two guys in sharp, retro outfits, hair slicked back, etc. — tried to replicate the classic sound of the blues. While the two of them were the core of the group, they often had fiddle-vocalist Julia Tepper as a co-conspirator. (She joined them on their first, and so far only, album, the self-titled disc.)

The Dough Rollers in their earlier incarnation at The Bell House in Brooklyn, April 24, 2010. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

The Dough Rollers in their earlier incarnation at The Bell House in Brooklyn, April 24, 2010. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Few acts could sustain the conceit. Leon Redbone is the only one that springs to mind at the moment, and his whole performing life is in character.

Click through to the jump for more photos and info. Continue reading

Ticket price for Wilco’s 2013 Solid Sound Festival increases $25 on March 11

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You have less than a week to buy your weekend passes to this great festival before the price goes up

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has told you before, and is taking this opportunity to tell you again: Solid Sound, Wilco’s music and arts festival at MASS MoCA is one of the best music festivals ever. We’ve attended the first two editions and have no intention of missing V3 this year — on June 21-23 at the museum in North Adams, Mass.

Continue reading

Take a trip through time in Greenwich Village tonight

New documentary explores the rich history of the fabulous Greenwich Village folk music scene

Rockland County resident Terri Thal and other people in the film to appear for panel discussion at tonight’s 7:25 screening at Manhattan’s IFC Center

Happy New Year. We’ve been meaning to write, but we’ve been busy. But today we have some news we just had to share.

The documentary “Greenwich Village: Music that Defined a Generation” has been quietly making the rounds of film festivals. Some of you probably have heard some word-of-mouth, got a chance to catch it at DOC NYC 2012 or at least have seen the trailer.

Terri Thal, right, with singer Terre Roche at the 2010 Gerdes Folk City Reunion. (Photos 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Terri Thal, right, with singer Terre Roche at the 2010 Gerdes Folk City Reunion. (Photos © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

We’ve only seen the trailer. It’s hard to tell from the clips alone how well the feature-length film really tells the fascinating story of the unique cultural, political and geographical elements nurtured so much talent. But the rare footage and new interviews — among the subjects are Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Chapin, Lucy and Carly Simon, Oscar Brand, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ian Tyson, Eric Andersen, Israel Horovitz, Jose Feliciano, Kenny White, Sonny Ochs, Sylvia Tyson, Pete FornataleHappy Traum and John Sebastian —  alone are surely worth the price of admission to anyone who’s interested in the time and place.

Sylvia Tyson at the 2010 Folk City Reunion.

Sylvia Tyson at the 2010 Folk City Reunion.

The film has begun a six-screenings-a-day run through next Thursday, Jan. 24, at IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street in Manhattan. Click here for schedule, ticketing and information about the theater. Tickets are $13.50 for adults, $9.50 for children and senior citizens, and $8.50 for IFC Center members.

But tonight only, at the 7:25 screening, some of the people you’ll see on screen

Happy Traum at the 2010 Folk City Reunion.

Happy Traum at the 2010 Folk City Reunion.

will appear in person to participate in a panel discussion. Musicians Traum, Doug Yeager and David Amram and radio personality Brand are scheduled to appear.

Terri Thal —  known in Rockland County as a longtime defender and protector of history and the environment as an officer  of the West Branch Conservation Association — who played an integral, nonperforming, role in the fertile musical scene.

Tom Rush celebrates a half century onstage

Performs with many old friends in a sold-out ‘Club 47′ show at Boston Symphony Hall tonight

Watch starting at 7:30 tonight on Livestream (link after the jump)

Tom Rush (Photo by Michael Wiseman).

It’s hard to believe that singer Tom Rushhas been performing since 1962, but the calendar doesn’t lie.

Tom Rush onstage in 1962. (Photo by Jim Eng)

Tonight he’s marking the milestone with an intimate gathering at a little place in Boston – not far from his old stomping grounds at Club 47 in Cambridge – called Symphony Hall.

It’s a venue where Tom has held forth with his friends many times over the years. It can hold upwards of 2,600 people. Not bad for an old folkie to sell out a joint like that.

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? is planning to make the trek to Boston for this incredibly special show.

Continue reading