2007, Fri, Oct 26

David Peel & The Lower East Side / Roger Manning: Contentious Pacifists

Greenwich Village - Folk and Anti-Folk

David Peel

David Peel

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.

Perhaps ironically, David Peel was born in Nashville, the stronghold of country music. He came to New York in the early 1960s. Since then he has been terrorising the Lower East Side with his spontaneous concerts and happenings in the agitprop tradition. His first two albums on the legendary Elektra label caught the attention of John Lennon, who released Peel's album "The Pope Smokes Dope" on Beatles label Apple Records. At the end of the 1970s he was identified by many musicians and critics as the true father of punk rock. Although he now has his own label and has put out a good two dozen LPs and CDs, David Peel still prefers to give concerts outdoors and for free. The song "I'm Proud To Be A New York City Hippie" is always on the programme.

Roger Manning, active since the 1980s, is one of the pioneers of anti-folk, a punk rock troubadour whose aggressive acoustic music cuts with razor-sharp political lyrics. With the exception of one song on "Drinking From Puddles", a collaborative production with Cat Power, Lydia Lunch and others, Manning has largely withdrawn from the music market. He lives as a web designer in New York and most recently joined the political fray in the effort to rescue the pacifistic broadcaster Pacifica Radio Network.

more about David Peel & the Lower East Side

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.