New York and the American Folk Music Revival

“Recalling the peak years of the folk music revival in Greenwich Village, singer-songwriter Tom Paxton reflected on the importance of the clubs, taverns, and coffeehouses in the Washington Square vicinity. These venues mattered, he noted, for both artistic reasons and social purposes. Paxton singled out the two preeminent Greenwich Village folk music clubs in the early 1960s: Gerde’s Folk City and the Gaslight. They booked many of the same acts but had distinct identities. While the Gaslight, a coffeehouse, did not sell alcohol, it was in a central location on MacDougal Street between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets. Folk City was several blocks away, on the corner of West 4th and Mercer Streets. For drinks and conversation, some folksingers ventured to the White Horse Tavern, on Hudson Street in the West Village. The Lion’s Head on Christopher Street and the Limelight on Seventh Avenue South were other preferred destinations for banter and beer. “But it was really the Kettle of Fish where all the ideas, gossip, songs, and friendships were exchanged,” Paxton recalled about the bar next to the Gaslight. Folksingers often relaxed at Kettle of Fish between sets at the Gaslight. “There were constant comings and goings, and the cast of characters included Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk, Eric Andersen, and David Blue.”

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