Summer in the city, to coin a phrase from John Sebastian. Late summer in the city in fact, and The Village Trip 2019 was bathed in sunshine as it celebrated the glorious history and heritage of a unique neighborhood which has been at the center of arts and social activism for nigh on 150 years.
Our second festival brought with it exciting new partnerships, including NYU, Joe’s Pub, St John’s in the Village and St Mark’s in the Bowery, and new events – discussion of some of today’s hot-button issues which have always been at the heart of the Village, and creative writing, with best-selling author Adriana Trigiani. Izzy Young, a catalytic figure in the folk music scene and a key figure in the Village’s own free speech movement, was honoured, and Steve Earle offered the best of local history lessons during the course of a magnificent set in Washington Square Park.
As Artist Emeritus, David Amram was everywhere, playing, talking, encouraging, hanging out – just being David Amram, a man who has seen so much and worked with so many…
“The possibilities for this festival are limitless and make it feasible for it to become an international event. This is what happened in the summer of 1957 when I was with the New Shakespeare Free Festival in the Park, as their first composer and music director. In spite of all the struggles, sixty-two years later this festival is bigger and better than ever.
“The Village Trip has the same mission.
“To uplift, to entertain and to celebrate the arts for all New Yorkers and their families and all people from around the world who come to visit New York City’s special oasis, Greenwich Village.”
Many thanks to everyone who was involved in The Village Trip 219 – sponsors, partners, donors, supporters, and to all those who gave so generously of their time and expertise. Please know how much you are appreciated.
Heartfelt thanks too, of course, to all our wonderful performers. It was an honor to have you.
And thank you to all those who came – it wouldn’t have been the same without you!
See you next year at The Village Trip 2020. Meanwhile, here’s a look back at 2019.
The Village Trip was thrilled this year to have NYU as a partner, and the festival launched on Thursday evening with wine and speeches in the Bobst Library on Washington Square, where guests had a chance to enjoy the exhibition marking fifty years since Stonewell. Susan Abbe Rider, Director of Development in the Libraries Division, made the welcome speech, and introduced Liz Thomson, founder and Executive Producer of The Village Trip. She spoke about the festival and presented Artist Emeritus David Amram with a portrait by Rita Paul, the artist whose work is a signature feature of the nearby Washington Square Hotel, the festival founding partner and home base. David also received a Village Trip tour jacket, the festival’s logo on the back and his title of Artist Emeritus on the front.
The Village Trip Hootenanny
The fabled Bitter End on Bleecker Street was again the venue for The Village Trip Hootenanny, this year honouring the late and legendary Izzy Young, who played a formative role in the folk music scene in Greenwich Village. Tom Chapin was the host for an evening of heartfelt music-making featuring Martha Redbone, David Massengill, Diana Jones and David Amram, plus special guest Rory Block. The much-garlanded Blues Music Awards-winner grew up in the Village over her father Allan Block’s Sandal Shop on West 4th Street, a social and musical mecca. Erik Frandsen, whose Village roots also run deep – he was an old friend of Dave van Ronk, and worked with the Coen Brothers on Inside Llewyn Davis – joined them on stage for a song.
Social Justice Seminars
This year the festival introduced two social justice seminars, a strand it plans to develop. The first, sponsored by Grove Atlantic Publishing, which was founded on Grove Street and is still based in the Village, examined subtle censorship and the erosion of first amendment rights. The lively Friday evening discussion took place in the Jefferson Market Library, which was once a courthouse, and was chaired by Grove publisher George Gibson.
Another seminar, in partnership with NYU Library, took place in the University’s Avery Fisher Center, where a panel led by Donna Keren and featuring Merryn Johns, Chris Heywood and Adam Groffman addressed the question “LGBTQ in the media – better or worse since Stonewall?”
Creative Writing Seminars
Creative writing was another new element at TVT 2019. The star turn was internationally best-selling author Adriana Trigiani, who led a packed session at the Jefferson Market Library. The audience sat riveted as she told them how her own writing career started, showing them how they too could draw on what’s inside, and what’s around them, to write. There was also a session with Richard Major at St John’s in the Village.
A Celebration of Greenwich Village
Chamber Music Compositions by David Amram
Artist Emeritus David Amram introduced some of his Greenwich Village-inspired chamber music in a Saturday afternoon concert, also at St John’s in the Village. Three distinguished musicians – violinist Elmira Darvarova, French horn player Howard Wall, and pianist Thomas Weaver, who came up specially from Philadelphia – performed works including “Blues and Variations for Monk”, “Elegy for Violin and Piano” and “Bulgarian Wedding”. (Saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky had been due to play but was sadly felled by illness, from which he is now happily recovered).
Bringing It All Back Home to Washington Square
Bringing It All Back Home to Washington Square took place in Washington Square Park on Saturday afternoon beneath a hot September sun. Guitarist Marc Ribot opening the proceedings, which also showcased The Tall Pines and guests including Mary Lee Kortes and Tammy Faye Starlight. Steve Earle headlined, very much on home turf – he lives a couple of blocks from the Park. He opened by saying “I’ve waited fourteen years to sing this song in Washington Square Park”, launching into Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” and providing between songs highlights of Greenwich Village history.
Jazz In The Village
The New School’s all-star band closed out Saturday with a concert in the University’s 13th Street Performance Space. The line-up featured Edward Neumeister on trombone, Nir Felder on guitar, Andy McKee on bass and Jeff Siegel on drums. Special guest was New York City sax legend Roy Nathanson.
The Village Trip in Partnership
This year The Village Trip also presented a number of events with the Poetry Project at St Mark’s in the Bowery and Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater.