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.
Joe Boyd played a central role in some of the most important moments in musical history during the 1960s. He describes in great detail in his memoirs White Bicycles. He discovered and produced the Pink Floyd, having started his career in 1963 as the music promoter of blues legend Muddy Waters. In London, Joe Boyd founded the Elektra Records label, and repeatedly started new trends in the folk scene during the 1960s and 1970s. In the mid-60s, for example, he co-founded (together with John Hopkins) the legendary UFO Club, operated the Witchseason label, and produced REM, Nick Drake, Maria Muldaur and Billy Bragg – to name just a few.
As one of the great blues voices on the East Coast, Geoff Muldaur had a seminal influence on the folk, blues and folk-rock scene during the 1960s and 1970s. As a founder-member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and the Paul Butterfield Better Days Group, he produced some momentous records and worked with Bonnie Raitt, Eric Von Schmidt and Jerry Garcia, among others. In 1981, he retired as a musician and interpreter from the music scene. Even so, in the mid-1980s he was awarded an Emmy for the film music he had produced. In 1999, Geoff Muldaur started giving concerts again in Europe. ‘There are only three white blues singers, and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them,’ says the British folk-rock legend Richard Thompson.
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.