Tag Archives: Peter Stampfel

Peter Stampfel pushes banjos to the limit

Peter Stampfel torturing a banjo and assaulting our ears at the Gerdes Folk City 50th Reunion in 2010. (Photo 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Peter Stampfel on banjo at the Gerdes Folk City 50th Reunion in 2010. (Photo 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

The granddaddy of freak folk is still going strong with his latest album, ‘Better Than Expected’

Peter Stampfel defines freak folk.

It’s a category that didn’t even exist when Stampfel, now 75, was starting out as a young musician, releasing his first album, “The Holy Modal Rounders,” in 1964.

The genre developed to describe the work of current musicians such as Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Akron/Family, and the like. But Stampfel was there first, and has provided inspiration and collaboration all along.

The  Holy Modal Rounders cofounder is an acquired taste, for some, with his cracked vocals, inimitable fiddling and banjo playing, and genre-busting choice of material.

His is a restless mind, and his art challenges the conventionality at every turn.

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Peter Stampfel and the Ether Frolic Mob perform tonight

Peter Stampfel torturing a banjo and assaulting our ears at the Gerdes Folk City 50th Reunion in 2010. (Photo 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Peter Stampfel torturing a banjo and assaulting our ears at the Gerdes Folk City 50th Reunion in 2010. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Speaking of the Greenwich Village folk music scene, here’s somebody you won’t see at the IFC Center tonight: Peter Stampfel, one of the singular characters of that musical generation. He’s still making music, though not with his original, and best-known band, the Holy Modal Rounders.

He should be there tonight. But you won’t see him at IFC tonight because he’s going to be very bust in Red Hook, Brooklyn, while the film is showing.

Peter and his latest band, The Ether Frolic Mob (a band with a constantly shifting cast of characters, as far as we can tell), are scheduled to play at the Jalopy Theatre and School of Music, 315 Columbia St., Red Hook, Brooklyn, tonight. Peter’s band is slated to play at 9 p.m., following the Bushwick Gospel  Singers’ 8 p.m. set.

Tickets are $10, available in advance by clicking here and at the door — as long as you don’t get there too late!

The Bill Murray Experience: No, not that Bill Murray, but quite an experience!

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The Bill Murray Experience at The Cupping Room Cafe on June 25. (Copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? knew nothing about The Bill Murray Experience until a couple of days ago, when the old-timey New York City based band was featured in this New York Post video about Play Me, I’m Yours, the art project that has put 60 pianos — available for anyone to play — in public places around New York City.

But it was love at first sight — and sound! Singer Jessy Carolina has an amazingly bluesy voice and her bandmates — Horatio Baltz on lead guitar, Jay Sanford on upright bass and the irrepressible Blind Boy Paxton on banjo — provide the perfect setting for it. It’s a new generation tackling early American roots music, jazz and pop standards from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s repertoire that has been a rich source over the years for artists like Leon Redbone, with tunes like “My Melancholy Baby” and “I Ain’t Got Nobody.”

How we’ve missed them is a mystery. They are fantastic, and proved it last night in performance before a small and not entirely attentive crowd at The Cupping Room Cafe at West Broadway and Broome streets in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood.

Peter Stampfel, of Holy Modal Rounders fame, knows a thing or two about this kind of music. And he sums up the band’s primary appeal quite well — it’s Jessy’s emotive and engaging singing. “She doesn’t sing songs as much as she embodies them. Her singing and moves are both about as good as it gets,” Stampfel says.

But Jessy needs the rest of the band to pull it off. Her interplay with the players — especially the jovial, overall-wearing Paxton — is charming adds so much to the overall feel of the performance.

BME plays around NYC quite a bit, at places like the “secret” Shanghai Mermaid, 893 Bergen St., Brooklyn, where they play at 9 tonight, June 26 and at the Jalopy Theater, 315 Columbia St., Red Hook, Brooklyn, where they’re performing at 8 p.m. Monday, June 28.

Here’s a clip of the band that gives you great sense of its joyous, freewheeling style at a June 20 show at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, Vt.

Of course any band that takes Bill Murray’s name in vain has to evoke Murray’s spot in Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes. Remember “Bill Groundhog Day, Ghostbustin’ ass Murray”? How could you forget? We’ll leave you with that: