Since the times of Pete Seeger, New York's folk music scene has gathered in Greenwich Village. In the 1950s, dissatisfied with the elaborately produced commercial popular music and the ever more abstract jazz of the period, folk musicians began to search for simplicity, authenticity and roots. They discovered bluegrass, the blues, gospel, work songs and British murder ballads. Out of these, as well as other nearly forgotten forms, the folk music genre arose. Bob Dylan brought folk music to international audiences in the 1960s. Even today the Village is home to numerous improvised small clubs in which young, and not quite so young, people sing poetic and political songs – usually to the sole accompaniment of a guitar – that take a firm stance against commercially produced pop music. At HKW veterans of 1960s folk will share the stage with young exponents of so-called anti-folk, who are often strongly influenced by punk rock.
Bob Neuwirth is an extremely versatile artist. A painter, poet, actor, producer and performer, he also co-wrote the legendary “Mercedes Benz” song by Janis Joplin, worked with his friend Bob Dylan (documented in the Film “Don't Look Back” by D.A. Pennabaker), filmed the Monterey Pop Festival, and, of course, attended Woodstock. In the 1960s, he toured the USA with artists from the folk-rock scene. In 1975, he put together the group for Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue. This all-round talent has been producing his own albums since the 1980s. From raw folk to light Cuban music, Bob Neuwirth is always coming up with new, creative ideas.
At the House of World Cultures, Bob Neuwirth will be performing with that outstanding musician and composer of film music David Mansfield, his companion of many years standing, who was a member of the very same Rolling Thunder Revue at the tender age of eighteen. David Mansfield later played for four years in different Bob Dylan bands, produced the soundtrack albums for the films Heaven's Gate and The Sicilian and has also worked with musicians such as Iggy Pop, Meatloaf and Johnny Cash.
Energy-charged are the performances of Ish Marquez, who, like Jeff Lewis, got his start in the legendary Cake Shop in Ludlow Street. Marquez characterises himself as James Dean, Jimi Hendrix and Pavarotti rolled into one and stresses the importance of the Tamla-Motown influence on his songs.
The programme "Greenwich Village" is curated by Detlef Diederichsen together with Jeff Lewis, himself an anti-folk singer and a leading connoisseur of the history of the genre.