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.
As member of the Fugs and the Holy Modal Rounders, Peter Stampfel was among the protagonists of the anarchical freak folk music of the 1960s. Alongside his propensity for the beatnik lifestyle, he always cultivated an interest in old songs, which over the years made him into a kind of walking folk archive. He has continually engaged in exchange with younger generations and performed with such artists as Yo La Tengo, They Might Be Giants and, more recently, Jeff Lewis. Today Stampfel lives as a science-fiction author and family man in Lower Manhattan. Prewar Yardsale are comprised of the husband-and-wife team of Mike (vocals and guitar) and Dina (vocals and percussion). Purists, be warned – Prewar Yardsale have no fear of wildly distorted guitar sounds or monotonously thumping beatboxes and are aesthetically closer to The Velvet Underground than to Pete Seeger.
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.