In 1957, I was 19 and already a committed folkie and a frequent participant in the Washington Square jam sessions on fair-weather Sundays. I had heard of a place that was opening on MacDougal Street, just a few blocks away, so I went over there one May afternoon for the Grand Opening. I found myself in a group of fellow folk singers having a jam of our own in the back room of the little shop. Jean Ritchie was there with her dulcimer, as were Carolyn Hester, Roy Berkeley, Cynthia Gooding, Mollie Scott and several others. Jean’s husband, photographer George Pickow, captured this now-iconic photo at that event.
Sometimes odd bits of ephemera show up from your past, as did this poster from a festival in Culpepper, Virginia in 1973, thanks to Fred Robbins. This event was one for the books. It was billed as a "bluegrass folk festival" and it sure had a lot of everything, including much post-hippie craziness.
Woodstock, NY has always had a musical resonance to me, ever since I came to play at the old Cafe Espresso on Tinker Street one wintery night in 1963. I took the bus from New York City and was picked up by the proprietor, Bernard Paturel, French and suave with his brushed mustaches and vaguely Gallic accent. He took me to his apartment above the club to meet Marylou and their small children, and then down to the Cafe, which was warm and cozy after the long, snowy bus ride. The room was already crowded with local folk who had come more to get out of the cold than to see a young unknown folksinger from the city, but everyone was as welcoming as the room itself. That summer I was invited back to perform at a much larger venue, the first of many appearances I made over the years at the Woodstock Playhouse. As before, many Woodstockers showed a keen interest in the folk music that I loved, and I began meeting more of the colorful citizens of the art colony.
By Happy Traum
I was recently inspired to start playing 12-string again, many years after the untimely demise of my Fyllde (the one I played on my 12-string instructional video), which kind of imploded on me. I have always loved the sound of the twelve, but it's a commitment to start up with it again. Just think - twice as many strings to go out of tune!