Various Artists: Greenwich Village Folk Festival: W. 4th & 6th Ave.

Greenwich Village Folk Festival:
W. 4th & 6th Ave.

Various Artists

Gadfly 222

Gadfly Records
P.O. Box 5231
Burlington, VT 05402
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Michael Gasser

These selections were recorded at the Greenwich Village Folk Festival in New York. Most of the songs were recorded in either 1993 or 1994. This is not the first CD from Gadfly to celebrate the Greenwich Village Folk Festival, but it is the most recent. At the time of this writing, it's sadly not very likely that there will be any further CDs from this event for the foreseeable future, as the last festival took place in 1996.

It can be said that the booklet is the main disadvantage of this CD as it provides little information about the event itself, and nothing about the artists. I know there's probably not a lot of profit in releasing these recordings, but it still would have been nice to see and read a bit more than the very basic facts. But then again it's the music that counts, and the music is definitely worth hearing.

This seems to be a very good representation of the New York folk scene of the early nineties. Some like Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell have attracted quite a bit more of the spotlight since that time.

Anyone who has ever seen Shindell perform won't need to know anything more. He's got a voice which will send shivers down my spine eternally. No exception here. Kaplansky's version of Cliff Eberhardt's Brake A Train is worth the price of the CD alone. Wonderful song, wonderful voice, wonderful performance. And the extra nice thing is, this song has not been included on any of her CDs. So for any Kaplansky addicts out there, this is a must. Pat Kilbride and Whirligig, both part of the Irish segment of the New York folk scene, deliver very solid music that won't make you jump for joy, but is still very enjoyable. Amy Fradon & Leslie Ritter lend their voices to the traditional You Don't Knock. This a capella version lets you feel the fun they must have had performing it as they really got themselves (and the otherwise not very audible audience) going. It's still a mystery to me why Paul Siebel never made the big time as his two Elektra records from the seventies are little masterpieces, sadly overlooked. He performs one of his best songs, Ballad of Honest Sam, a pleasure to hear and know that he's still doing a great job. Another mystery to me is why Wendy Beckerman is still relatively unknown. If you ask me, I would say that she's bound for greater things. Listening to her If I Were You, I'd say that she possesses a vocal quality similar to Lucy Kaplansky.

This set grows on you with repeated listening, and makes you wish that you could have been there to see and enjoy the performances, even if not quite all the songs are of the same top quality. For those of us not lucky enough to attend, this is the next best thing. A good thing indeed.

Track List:

  • Arrowhead (Richard Shindell)
  • Brake A Train (Lucy Kaplansky/written by Cliff Eberhardt)
  • Big Chinos (Jim Infantino)
  • The Fisherman's Wife (Whirligig/written by Ewan MacColl)
  • Ballad Of Honest Sam (Paul Siebel)
  • You Don't Knock (Amy Fradon & Leslie Ritter/Traditional)
  • Live Bait (Pat Kilbride)
  • Monster Poem / If I Were You (Wendy Beckerman)
  • Love Radiates Around (Mark Johnson)
  • Their Brains Were Small And They Died (Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen/written by Mark Graham)
  • Good Company (Jessica Harper)
  • Hard Times Come Again No More (David Massengill/written by Stephen Foster)

Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz

Copyright 1999, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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