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History of the Greewich Village Music Scene
by Alex Cosper (3/26/15)

Greenwich Village in New York has changed over the years to become less of a music scene, but at one time it was the center of a global cultural revolution. From the folk scene of the sixties, it was one of the most important launching grounds for new acts. Located in Greenwich Village in New York University (NYU). By the eighties the area began transforming from a bohemian counter-culture to a more upscale community.

The community known as Greenwich Village is remembered for many historic events. Cafe Society, for example, became the first radically integrated night club in America in 1938. It was launched by Barney Josephson. Some of the well known national acts that performed at this venue include Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Pearl Bailey, Billie Holiday and countless others.

The Village became known as the Beatnik capital of the world starting in the 1950s. The Beat Generation movement grew from the area's beat poets such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburgh, William Burroughs, Rod McKuen, Dylan Thomas and Truman Capote. The Beatniks would be very influential in shaping the views of the folk artists that followed in the 1960s. These folk artists, such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul & Mary, played coffee houses throughout the Village. Other artists from the area that became part of sixties hippy culture included the Lovin' Spoonful, Simon & Garfunkel, Phil Ochs and James Taylor.

Several Village artists ended up moving west to be part of the Laurel Canyon music scene near Los Angeles. These artists included Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and three of the four members of the Mamas & The Papas. Ultimately some of this folk music shaped the protest music of the anti-war movement during the Vietnam war era. Bob Dylan was one of the most outspoken with his songs "Masters of War" and "Blowin' In The Wind." The stage for the folk revolution had been set in the forties and fifties by acoustic folk artists such as Woody Guthrie, who was a big influence on Dylan. Guthrie had originally come from Oklahoma but migrated to New York. Pete Seeger also helped shaped Dylan's songwriting.

In 1967 the world's oldest gay and lesbian bookstore opened with Oscar Wilde Bookshop. In 1984 the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center opened at the former Food & Maritime Trades High School. Since that time Greenwich Village has been known as a birthplace of the LGBT rights movement in the United States. The Village is also known for its Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway theaters. It is still the home of progressive thinkers and artists. The Village Voice, a weekly community newspaper, covers the local scene.

Venues that still capture the spirit of the scene's history include El Faro, The Bitter End and The Gaslight. The historic CBGB's night club that ushered in a lot of punk and new wave bands in the seventies was located in East Village, on the border of Greenwich Village.

Greenwich Village Sample Playlist

BOB DYLAN - Like a Rolling Stone
JOAN BAEZ - The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down
PHIL OCHS - I Ain't Marchin' Anymore
KINGSTON TRIO - Greenback Dollar
LOVIN' SPOONFUL - Summer In The City
PETE SEEGER - We Shall Overcome
PETER, PAUL & MARY - Blowin' In The Wind
ARLO GUTHRIE - Alice's Restaurant
WOODY GUTHRIE - This Land Is Our Land
JUDY COLLINS - Both Sides Now
RICHIE HAVENS - High Flyin' Bird
TOM CHAPIN - Mother Earth
TOM PAXTON - Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation

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