I have focused more of late on folk music and New York City. I met with a lack of well researched Web information, which served as a frustration. As it turns out my resource needs were recently answered. The Museum of the City of New York has curated an exceptional show, Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival.
In the 1950s and 1960s, folk music blossomed in New York City, especially in Greenwich Village, where clubs and coffee houses showcased singers like Pete Seeger and Odetta and nurtured a generation of newcomers, including Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Dave Van Ronk, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Peter, Paul and Mary. The multi-media exhibition Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival, features original instruments, handwritten lyrics, and video film footage. The event traces the roots of the revival, its growth in New York City, the major players, and folk’s impact on American political and social culture during the tumultuous 1960s.
There is also a companion book, Folk City written by authors Stephen Petrus (curator of the Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival exhibit) and Ron Cohen. Their collaboration captures the exuberance of the times by introducing readers to a bevy of characters who brought a new style to one of the biggest audiences in the history of popular music. Among the savvy New York entrepreneurs committed to promoting folk music were Izzy Young of the Folklore Center, Mike Porco of Gerde’s Folk City, and John Hammond of Columbia Records. The authors portray Greenwich Village coffee houses not simply as lively venues but as incubators of a burgeoning counterculture, where artists from diverse backgrounds honed their performance techniques and challenged social conventions. Accessible and engaging, fresh and provocative, rich in anecdotes and primary sources, Folk City is lavishly illustrated with images collected for the accompanying major exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York in 2015.