'Izzy Young - Talking Folklore Center'
(Izzy Young / DVD / NR / 2015 / MVD Visual)
Overview: Izzy Young, the guru of American folk music, in this documentary covering his legendary Folklore Center in New York.
DVD Verdict: Israel Goodman Young, or Izzy Young as he is more well known by, is a noted figure in the world of folk music, both in America and Sweden. He is the former owner of the Folklore Center in Greenwich Village, New York, and since 1973, he has owned and operated the Folklore Centrum store in Stockholm.
Here in this just-released 'Izzy Young - Talking Folklore Center' documentary, Izzy meets with friends and collaborators like Pete Seeger, Allen Ginsberg, The Fugs, Mayor Ed Koch to reminisce. Incredibly, it also includes unique archival footage and folk music from the 1960s - which I have never seen before, so that was a real treat.
The documentary begins (and, funnily enough, ends) with scenes of that aforementioned Swedish store, Young's narration throughout a joy to behold. The way he talks, the interesting aspects just to his tone of voice, are enough to make you instantly aware he has memories tucked away like no other man of his ilk within the genre.
Throughout, Director Jim Downing accompanies Young back to New York to visit the old neighborhood, hang out with old friends, and even appear on a radio show on WBAI. As the documentary plays out, we discover that Young arranged concerts with folk musicians and songwriters, who often made contacts with other musicians at the Folklore Center. [Bob Dylan relates in his memoirs, Chronicles, how he spent time at the Center, where Young allowed him to sit in the backroom of the store, listening to folk music records and reading books.] In fact, Dylan met Dave Van Ronk in the store, and Young produced Dylan's first concert at Carnegie Chapter Hall in New York City on Saturday, November 4th, 1961.
And so it's rather fitting that the opening scene of 'Izzy Young - Talking Folklore Center' has Eric Bibb singing “Talking Folklore Center”, a song that Bob Dylan wrote! Some of the other noted highlights included are when Heather Wood sings a powerful anti-Reagan song in the very same WBAI studio; Allen Ginsberg singing his “Father Death Blues”; and, for my money, when we pay a visit to Pete Seeger’s home in Beacon, NY, where Pete talks and sings two full songs. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:75.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
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