So, I’ve been playing open mics in NYC for over 13 years….for practice? To try out new tunes? Try my hand at covers? Meet other musicians? To have a good time? All of the above? Sometimes performance can be as much of a mystery as what compels me to write songs. There was a bar up in Inwood called Keenan’s Piano Bar and Lounge. So-called not because there was a piano in there, there was a pool table, but the bar itself was shaped like a grand piano. They were closed down when a pound (word has it) of cocaine was found in the basement. It was a great neighborhood joint, not very clean…really not clean at all. There were many colorful regulars and almost weekly a different story or event would come out of that joint. The stories were local and never made the national scene….The Village Gaslight, 116 MacDougal, on the other hand (not an open mic), hosted the likes of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Richie Havens, Jose Feliciano, Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dave Von Ronk, Mississippi John Hurt, Jimi Hendrix apparently sat in with John Hammond Jr. one night, Odetta, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Reverand Gary Davis, Bonnie Raitt, Big Mamma Thornton, Link Wray, Charles Mingus, Wavy Gravy, Allen Ginsberg, Bill Cosby etc etc. Heavy duty talents of american musical and cultural history have performed there.
In recent months the exceptionally talented Randy Burns has been hosting performances at 116 MacDougal but the new owners have decided to stop having music.
The Gaslight Cafe will host its final Randy Burns’ Folk Night next Tuesday, January 15, 2013 from 7-11pm. Come join us folkies for one last night of drink, revelry and song. And together, let’s make a joyful noise!
I’ve seen the Bottom Line, Tonic, Brownies and notably for me Banjo Jims (Banjo Lisa has had me play there a number of times before the closing) close up shop in the past 13 years usually due to rent increases. While I don’t think Gaslight is closing, it’s certainly become a lost venue for performers. We, musicians, will continue to feed our souls even if we’re relegated to the darkest recesses of this increasingly expensive island. You might see us on subway platforms, in parks, in some bar keeping the fire burning. Thankfully, a good fire is best shared.