Category Archives: People

In the groove - crowds in the Park for Bringing It All Back Home to Washington Square

Reflections on The Village Trip 2018

“What a beautiful gift all your events were for NYC!”
Terri Howell, Director of Operations, The Village Alliance

Heartfelt thanks to all those who had faith in our vision and who made the journey with us – sponsors, partners and private donors, and those who gave so generously of their time and expertise. Please know how much you are appreciated.

And thanks too, of course, to our wonderful performers, speakers, actors, musicians. It was an honor to have you.

See you next year – September 26-29, 2019

“Such an important new festival which needs
to become an annual event!”
“The best part was the glow on the audiences faces”

Continue reading Reflections on The Village Trip 2018

Suzanne Vega playing to the crowd at The Village Trip

What a Trip!

The Village Trip 2018

Bathed in glorious late September sunshine, on the last weekend of September Washington Square Park and the surrounding streets were a mecca for all those who appreciate the history and heritage of Greenwich Village and who want to celebrate and preserve it. From its Thursday evening launch at the historic Washington Square Hotel to Sunday’s closing folk festivities at the fabled Bitter End, The Village Trip honoured some of the many figures whose careers were born in the Village and who went on to leave an indelible mark on the world.

Continue reading What a Trip!

Billboard Logo

BILLBOARD writes about The Village Trip Festival

New Festival Shines Light on Undervalued Greenwich Village Music History

This weekend (Sept. 27-30) in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, a new festival entitled The Village Trip will shine a light on a neighborhood whose artistic and historical riches are as curious and circuitous as its winding, brick-laden streets. And while a number of boutique festivals have popped up in New York City over the last few years, this one comes from an unlikely source – a British journalist living a full ocean away.

Liz Thomson, a London-based journalist, has nurtured a lifelong interest in Greenwich Village. “Baez was my gateway drug,” says the Village Trip co-founder/executive producer of her interest in the ’60s New York folk revival, a fertile scene of music and protest that involved a post-blacklist Pete Seeger, a pre-fame Bob Dylan and a lot of acoustic guitars. Falling for Joan Baez, Vol. 2 and learning guitar as a kid, Thomson’s passion for music continued throughout college (she earned a music degree) and into her journalism career (one of her first gigs was interviewing Leonard Cohen in the ’80s prior to his comeback).

Fast-forward to 1995. Thomson is a working reporter and she gets an offer from U.K. publication Mojo to visit the neighborhood that captured her imagination as a teen. The reason, coincidentally, is Joan Baez, then in the midst of recording an album in the storied (but now-shuttered) Greenwich venue The Bottom Line. Mojo wanted her to cover the Rings Them Bells sessions, and she only too happily agreed.

Read the full article by Joe Lynch

Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega returns to her roots

Singer-songwriter whose career was born in Greenwich Village returns to headline Bringing It All Back Home to Washington Square

Suzanne Vega – whose career began in Greenwich Village in the new folk revival of the 1980s – is to headline Bringing It All Back Home to Washington Square, the free concert in Washington Square Park which is the focal point of The Village Trip.

Also on the bill are Martha Redbone, whose singing is an exhilarating fusion of R&B, soul and Native American influences, and VickiKristrinaBarcelona, the three-part harmony trio of songwriters and multi-instrumentalists comprising Rachelle Garniez, Amanda Homi and Terry Radigan who together “reimagine” the Tom Waits songbook. Continue reading Suzanne Vega returns to her roots

Girl wih guitar 1967. Photo by David Gahr

The Village Trip: Press Release

September 27 – 30, 2018

Music | Poetry | Theater | Photography

Suzanne Vega to headline concert in Washington Square Park

Premiere of Greenwich Village Portraits for Saxophone
and Piano by David Amram, Village Trip Artist-in-Residence

A new festival will celebrate Greenwich Village as the historic forge in which much of 20th century American culture was hammered out. Taking place over the last four days of
September and based out of the fabled Washington Square Hotel, the inaugural Village Trip will honor the lives and work of Edna St Vincent Millay, Jack Kerouac and Eugene O’Neill, all of whom spent their formative years in the Village, and the work of photographer David Gahr.

It will also celebrate the legendary Village jazz heritage with two events in partnership with the New School: a concert at the Stiefel Hall by Billy Harper, Joanne Brackeen, Vic Juris and Dave Douglas, and a post-concert Jazz Jam at the Washington Square Hotel’s North Square Lounge featuring students from the School of Jazz sitting in with multi-instrumentalist and composer David Amram, who has worked with Leonard Bernstein, Joseph Papp, Charles Mingus and Hunter S Thompson, among others, and whose film scores include The Manchurian Candidate.

Amram, who is The Village Trip Artist-in-Residence, has worked in Greenwich Village since the 1940s, and created Jazz/Poetry with Jack Kerouac. He will perform Kerouac’s Blues in the Afternoon at the Jefferson Market Library, where Kenneth Radnofsky and Yoshiko Kline will give the world premiere performance for saxophone and piano of Amram’s Greenwich Village Portraits – three movements dedicated to his late Village friends Arthur Miller, Odetta and Frank McCourt.

Suzanne Vega, whose career began in Village clubs and coffeehouses more than 30 years ago, headlines a free concert in Washington Square Park. Bringing It All Back Home to Washington Square will honor the musical heritage of the Village, whose siren call drew a student dropout from the University of Minnesota whom the world would come to know as Bob Dylan. Says Vega: “ I am happy to be doing this show in Greenwich Village, where I spent a lot of time in the eighties. I first ventured down to Folk City afraid to cross the threshold because I knew Bob Dylan had started there. But I was thrilled to be accepted by the gang of poetic songwriters I found. And it’s always good to be back.”

Continue reading The Village Trip: Press Release

The Villager Newspaper

THE VILLAGER writes about The Village Trip Festival

Village Trip will be a journey through music, words, photos and more

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | A new annual festival celebrating the “history and heritage” of Greenwich Village will hold its inaugural edition later this month.

The brainchild of Liz Thomson, a British former journalist with an abiding love for the famed Downtown enclave, The Village Trip will take place over four days, from Thurs., Sept. 27, to Sun., Sept. 30. Plans are for live music, readings, guided walks, talks and a rousing concert in Washington Square Park.

Legendary musician David Amram is enthusiastic to be the festival’s “artist in residence” and will be participating in every event. The Village Trip will feature the world premiere of Amram’s “Greenwich Village Portraits,” a piece for saxophone and piano.

Read the full article

The Village Trip Poster by Lori Loebelsohn

Memories and reflections of Greenwich Village

Artist Lori Loebelsohn was a teenager in Brooklyn when she first set foot in the Village. She was immediately hooked and was soon living there, an art student with Washington Square Park as her campus. The richness of her experience, and her longstanding connections with the Washington Square Hotel, have now inspired an evocative poster for The Village Trip… Continue reading Memories and reflections of Greenwich Village

Danny Kapilian

Danny Kapilian announced as producer of The Village Trip’s concert in Washington Square Park

Danny Kapilian is to produce Bringing It All Back Home to Washington Square, the Saturday afternoon concert that is the centerpiece of The Village Trip.

Kapilian is a Brooklyn-based producer of high-profile live music events, tours, and festivals. His original productions are often unique conceptual events that bring together renowned artists from a variety of genres. Continue reading Danny Kapilian announced as producer of The Village Trip’s concert in Washington Square Park

Gone to look for America – it’s all there in popular song

The world “knows” America by its music. People who’ve not visited and perhaps never will conjure up images of cities and one-horse towns from the lyrics of endless songs.
It’s just not the same in Britain: everyone knows that Paul Simon wrote “Homeward Bound” on Widnes and Ditton railway stations en route from a gig in Liverpool, and many recall the novelty number “Finchley Central” by the New Vaudeville Band, which immortalised a few miles of London’s Tube. Donovan wrote about “Sunny Goodge Street” – but it had nothing on Joni Mitchell’s “Chelsea Morning”. No light pouring in “like butterscotch” in London SW3 – and probably not in NY 10011 either, but it sounds so much more exotic.

With the exception of “Ferry Cross the Mersey” and “Waterloo Sunset,” few songs so evoke a city as “(I Left My Heart in) San Francisco”, or “Chicago (My Kind of Town)” and “New York, New York” – and there are two of those to choose from: the Bernstein/Comden and Green number from the 1944 musical On the Town, where “the Bowery’s up and the Battery’s down,” or the Kander and Ebb title song from Scorsese’s 1977 movie.

Heading west…

Sometimes the visions we conjure up are more exotic than the reality. “Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa” is a case in point. On Route 66 it may be but you wouldn’t get too many kicks – though you could now visit the Woody Guthrie Center. (I often try re-imagining the song as “Twenty-Four Hours from Tulse Hill,” a dreary South London suburb – even more absurd.) “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” Last Train to Clarksville,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” (let’s not go there), “Okie from Muskogee,” “Graceland”, “Walkin’ to New Orleans” …. There are endless songs of love, longing, regret, moving on…. All so evocative.

Even when the places themselves are not! I remember my first trip to the States, heading south on Highway 101 at the wheel of an AMC Concord, excited at the approach of Salinas, famous from “Me and Bobby McGee”. But California’s “salad bowl” was distinctly unexciting and somehow I missed John Steinbeck’s house. But never mind, in the City by the Bay, whose views still make me cry, I stood in the pouring rain at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury and wished I had at least a flower behind my ear.

Battery, Broadway, Bleecker…

I came later to New York though its streets too were familiar from life’s musical soundtrack: from the New Jersey Turnpike to the 59th Street Bridge, down Broadway (where “the neon lights are bright”) to Delancey Street (not even “very fancy” now, so obviously a Rodgers and Hart joke) and west to Bleecker (“where thirty dollars pays your rent” – ha-ha!), which crosses MacDougal (cue Fred Neil’s “Bleecker and MacDougal”) and then across to West 4th, where Bob and Suze lived over Bruno’s Spaghetti Parlour – “Positively 4th Street.”

The opening scene of Wonderful Town walks you straight into the Village, as two gals from Columbus, Ohio follow a guide down Waverly Place, past Washington Square to Christopher Street. Even tiny MacDougal Alley gets a mention (Betty Comden and Adolphe Green were downtowners; so too Leonard Bernstein for a while). Turn on to Sixth Avenue and the subway – and you can take the A-Train, (“the quickest way to Harlem”) and revel in Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington. The George Russell Sextet immortalised “121 Bank Street”. Rufus Wainwright looked forward to rainbows on “14th Street”.

Lucy Kaplansky, part of the 1980s and ‘90s Fast Folk movement founded by Jack Hardy and Dave van Ronk and which coalesced at the Cornelia Street Café, wrote in “Nowhere” of
Walking downtown
Eighth Street, Washington Square
Stepping carefully
In the footprints someone left there

For me that sums up Greenwich Village perfectly. There are footprints everywhere. I can’t walk into the marble lobby of the Washington Square Hotel without thinking of those who tramped the stairs or rode the elevators when it was the Hotel Earle. Countless writers have stayed – Ernest Hemingway, Dylan Thomas, Patricia Highsmith and Maeve Brennan to name but four – and countless more musicians. Bo Diddley, a regular (a signed photo is in Tatyana’s laundry just opposite), actually played a gig in the lobby to mark its centenary. Ramblin’ Jack Elliott stayed, as did Bob Dylan (mostly in room 305). He hunkered down there with Joan Baez, who immortalised it in “Diamonds and Rust”, her reflection on their celebrated love affair, as “that crummy hotel over Washington Square.” Roger McGuinn wrote “Chestnut Mare” in room 707. In a single day, Ian and Sylvia wrote “Four Strong Winds” (regarded by many as the best song to come out of Canada) and “You Were on My Mind.” And on a cold winter’s day, when the sky was grey, John Phillips wrote “California Dreamin’.”

Hotel Chelsea – eat your heart out!

Downtown, where all the lights are bright…

Music was what drew me to the Village, which existed in my mind’s eye and ear long before I set foot there in 1995 to report on the sessions at the late lamented Bottom Line (torn down by NYU) with Joan Baez and friends – Ring Them Bells was the resulting album. I’ve been staying at the Washington Square Hotel – now a charming family-owned home-from-home – for years and the romance of it never goes.

As I wander the streets, I don’t need a gizmo to hear the soundtrack – it’s embedded in my brain. Two songs are often on repeat: Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” (though the references are to Clinton Street in the East Village) and Tom Paxton’s “Last Thing on My Mind.” Those lines about the Subway rumbling… Sometimes I hear Paxton’s voice singing it, other times Judy Collins’. It’s there as I descend the steps of the West 4th Street station to take the D Train, hoping perhaps for a whispered escapade…