Screen Reviews
Izzy Young: Talking Folklore Center

Izzy Young: Talking Folklore Center

Directed by Jim Downing

Starring Izzy Young, Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg, Ed Koch

MVDVisual

I have often remarked that if I could find myself at any point in history, it would be the New York of the ’50s and ’60s. Greenwich Village was the epicenter of a cultural revolution, from the poetry of Allen Ginsberg and the Beats, to the jazz of Miles Davis, Monk and more, and of course Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk and other folk music notables that ushered in a sea change of popular culture. And in the middle of it all was the Folklore Center, created by Israel “Izzy” Young, a Brooklyn native whose love of all things creative, but particularly folk music and arts, led him to become a mainstay of the Village until he departed for Sweden in 1973.

This hour-long documentary was originally made for Swedish TV in 1989, but has never been released here until now, and anyone interested in the origins of folk music, beat poetry and the revolution they made will find much to enjoy here. Starting with Eric Bibb performing an unreleased Bob Dylan tune “Talking Folklore Center”, Young is interviewed as he returned to New York in the ’80s. Of course the Village of the late ’80s was a far cry from the quaint enclave he left decades before, becoming a rich person’s playground and the resulting high rents that forced the coffee houses, jazz clubs and used bookstores to shutter their doors, leaving the world bereft of the culture they gave.

While brief, the film shows several of the notables from the times such as Allen Ginsberg, performing “Father Death Blues”, or The Fug’s Tuli Kupferberg reciting his “Who Calls The Tune Must Pay The Piper”, and Pete Seeger on banjo and guitar, illustrating the folk tradition of borrowed melodies. The film shows the 1961 “folk music” demonstrations, which were brought about by the city’s prohibition of live music in Washington Square Park, where Young and fellow natives protested for the rights of free assembly guaranteed by our Constitution- and won. I can tell you from personal experience that the singers – of some sort or another- are still there, with probably no idea of who to thank. Well, Izzy Young, now 87 and living in Stockholm, deserves thanks not only for that, but for ensuring that folk music and culture still exists and is nurtured today. Thank you Izzy. Wish I had been there.


Recently on Ink 19...

Gasoline Lollipops

Gasoline Lollipops

Features

Gasoline Lollipops’ newest single, “Freedom Don’t Come Easy,” is today’s mother lovin’ punk rock folk anthem.

Basket Case

Basket Case

Screen Reviews

Frank Henenlotter’s gory grindhouse classic Basket Case looks as grimy as the streets of Times Square, and that is one of the film’s greatest assets. Arrow Video gives this unlikely candidate a welcome fresh release.

Jimmy Failla

Jimmy Failla

Event Reviews

Despite the Mother’s Day factor, hundreds of fervent, faithful followers still flocked to Orlando’s famed Plaza Live to catch an earlybird set from Jimmy Failla — one of the hottest names on today’s national comedy scene.

Lonnie Walker

Lonnie Walker

Features

Ink 19 readers get an early listen and look at “Cool Sparkling Water,” a new single from Lonnie Walker.

Los Lobos

Los Lobos

Event Reviews

Jeremy Glazier has a bucket list day at a Los Lobos 50th Anniversary show in Davenport, Iowa.

Always… Patsy Cline

Always… Patsy Cline

Archikulture Digest

Carl F. Gauze reviews the not-quite one-woman show, Always… Patsy Cline, based on the true story of Cline’s friendship with Louise Seger, who met the star in l961 and corresponded with Cline until her death.

Lorraine of the Lions

Lorraine of the Lions

Screen Reviews

A lady Tarzan and her gorilla have a rough time adapting to high society in Lorraine of the Lions (1925), one of four silent films on Accidentally Preserved: Volume 5, unleashed by Ben Model and Undercrank Productions, with musical scores by Jon C. Mirsalis.