Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tim Robinson at the Postcrypt on April 8th

I've been talking about Tim Robinson writing and playing a tribute to Jack Hardy.

I've been talking about Tim Robinson playing at the Postcrypt.

And now it turns out that Tim Robinson will be playing at the Postcrypt next Friday night, 8 April. So put it down on your calendars, New Yorkers!

He'll be joined by Chris Fuller and a special guest. The last time I saw Tim play, it was with Jack and Chris Fuller at the Postcrypt: I described that night here.

Ambassador of the Bodhran

For those of you who have been demanding footage of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren playing Irish music with Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, we are pleased to be able to bring you the following:

(HT: Ben Fishman.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Flashback: Postcrypt Coffeehouse, 7 October 2000

In the last post, I referenced the first time that I ever saw the late Jack Hardy play. With not too much effort actually, I was able to come up with my notes from that night. I've been wanting to write some "flashback" posts for a while, reporting on past concerts that stand out in my mind and for which a documentary record exists thanks to my decade of compulsive notetaking at concerts.

So it was Saturday night 7 October 2000 when the great Jack Hardy marked his return to the Postcrypt, thanks to Tim Robinson's initiative; Tim also had arranged for Frank Tedesso, another stalwart of the downtown Fast Folk scene, to be on the bill. My father was up from Connecticut. Postcrypt stalwart Heather Otrando was volunteering behind the bar along with Linda, a graduate student in East Asian Languages and Culture. All the performers were there by the 9:00 p.m. start of the show. (I made note of that since it was a rare thing and the more normal circumstance was me sweating it out, hoping that the next act was going to show up in time.) The audience was small.

Tim Robinson played the first 45 minute set. He opened with what I described in my notes as a "song about singing" and then played "Paris," his great song about "a New Yorker dreaming of Paris." He played "Out on the Edge" and the terrific "St. Jerome." And about halfway through the set, he said, "I saw Hardy out there earlier writing 'legendary' over his name in red pen!" which, as I pointed out in the previous post, had actually been my father.

Frank Tedesso played second. Playing to the Postcrypt home crowd, he opened with "Edgar Allan Poe Is Gettin His Shit Together & He's Looking For Work," which describes New York University knocking down Poe's house and claims that the same thing wouldn't have happened at Columbia. He told the story of a woman dumping him by saying that their energy fields were not aligned: "What could I do? Quantum physics aren't my thing. ... So I got drunk for a couple of weeks and fought with my friends, and then I wrote this song about it..." The song "You Can Learn a Lot from Birds" had a number of impressive lines in it: "You can learn a lot from the French / But not as much as you can learn from birds," and "My hearts in hock to things I can't even name" were the ones I wrote down.

Tedesso concluded his set by encouraging the audience to stick around for Jack's set, saying, "Jack is a great songwriter, but he's really generous, too. And that's hard to find in any endeavor. ... Don't get me wrong -- he's a motherf*cker, too..."

And then when I took the stage to introduce Jack, I apparently -- I have no memory of this, to tell you the truth, but the notebook says so -- introduced him as "a folk-singing motherf*cker."

I guess that got our relationship off to a good start at any rate...

He opened his set with the "Uley Mill Song," which in my notes gets erroneously named "The Tyrants of Bonaparte," but which became an instant favorite of mine. Then he played "Faded Old Rose" and another song that is likely from Bandolier, but which I have described only as "song about horse and old cowboy." I have the next song listed as "The Island," and I am at a loss to figure out what song that might have been. I noted that it had "lovely words."

"The Lady Turned Away" and "The Sword in the Stone" followed next. The latter song contains the verse
She was writing in the corner
A candle and empty chair
With freckles from 'cross the ocean
And strawberry blond hair
and I apparently thought that might refer to one of the evening's Postcrypt volunteers. Not sure if I am confessing my own smittenness to my notebook there or what...

"Singer's Lament" was followed by "Night Train to Paris" (by request); I noted my approval of the line "Take the night train to Paris / You hopelessly romantic fool." "DĂșn Do ShĂșile" was followed by "Forget-Me-Not" and then "The Zephyr."

At this point, Michael, the evening's alcohol proctor (the individual tasked by Columbia University with making sure that there was no underage drinking at the Postcrypt) announced to me that the 'Crypt was "the best kept secret on campus!"

"Memphis" and then a song that I have erroneously named "The Calling" in my notes -- "The Hunter" perhaps? (Seems more likely than "The Coyote" or "The Cauldron" as a closer.) Jack noted, "I haven't played this in a while; it should be fun."

Getting called back on stage, Jack said, "The benefit of going last is that you get to do an encore," and by request, he played "The Black Hole."

And that was my live introduction to the great Jack Hardy: a nice selection of songs old-and-new and a relaxed evening of music.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tim Robinson Tribute to Jack Hardy

The first time that I met Jack Hardy was when he played the Postcrypt while I was the manager. I had booked Tim Robinson to be part of a bill one night, and Tim suggested that we add Jack to the evening. I jumped at the chance -- I had never seen Jack live, but I knew what an important figure he was in the folk music world. My father came down from Connecticut for the show, and on the board announcing the musicians for the night that we put at the door to the chapel, my father had written "The Legendary Jack Hardy." When Tim showed up, he said, "I see that Jack's been upstairs with a marker..." The evening was as magical as one could have hoped, and I became a bigger fan of the music and a dedicated fan of the man.

Here's a terrific song that Tim has written in memory of Jack.

The wax-covered candle in the foreground looks like it could have been lifted from the Postcrypt (although I believe that the fire marshal has forced the 'Crypt to retire all of those candles now...).


I’m okay with numbers
...Chances are I’ll bury you
But not yet – it’s just too early
And there’s lotsa shit to do
There’s the business of the bending
Of the language into song
And the drinking of our sorrows
And the hanging on too long…

To a woman’s raging beauty
To the thunder on the hill
And your body may cry, uncle
But your spirit never will
So here it is, Ash Wednesday
And all things dust to dust
Still I’m begging you to linger
While I’m begging you to trust…

That there’s some kind of forever
Where your brothers wait for you
And a fine roper’s saddle
And that Colorado blue
But that’s all for tomorrow
For today is good enough
To live a little longer
Here in our relentless love…

For you and your wonder
At the stories in our bones
You, laughing so easy
And then driving on alone
As always through some darkness
To where the darkness parts
Back to the beginning
Where the next song starts… Jack of hearts
New Yorkers: check out Tim live on Sunday night (March 20th) at the Rockwood Music Hall.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jack Hardy, 1947 - 2011

One of the great songwriters of our time has passed on.

Mark Moss, the editor of Sing Out!, writes the following:
Here's what I've cobbled together since I got a call this morning: Jack was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago, but was adamant that no one was to know, so, beyond family, very few of his friends were even aware he was sick. He finished his first round of chemo yesterday, which left him very weak. He was experiencing discomfort in overnight, they upped his morphine, but he passed in the early hours this morning.
It doesn't yet seem possible to me that a person as full of life and full of swagger as Jack could no longer be among us.

Note: With respect to the commenter who suggests that this post should be taken down in accordance with Mark Moss's admission that he announced the news hastily and without fully taking into account the extent to which Jack's family had been informed, after briefly taking down the post, I have decided to repost it. Jack's Facebook wall has been covered in remembrances; his Wikipedia entry has been updated based on the original blog post; and Steve Ide, Sharon Goldman, Jonathan Byrd and presumably others have begun to share the news in other places. Certainly, I mean no disrespect to Jack's family and only wish to have the post up in tribute to his memory.