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IN 1960, A PHENOMENON WAS BORN IN A FORMER ITALIAN RESTAURANT.

The venerable Gerdes Folk City became the mother of all music venues. It gave birth to and inspired live music venues all around the world for decades to come. It was the oldest and most influential of all American music venues, before losing its lease in 1986. But its influence still lives on.
Folk City, which Rolling Stone’s Book of Lists called one of the Top Three Music Venues of All Time (along with CGBBs and The Cavern), launched the careers of hundreds of world-renowned musical stars from Bob Dylan to Sonic Youth, numerous music styles from folk to alternative rock, and still sets the bar for what a music venue should be. Many hopeful comedians from Adam Sandler to Chris Rock and Larry David, also began their careers at Folk City, along with actors like Steve Buscemi and Mark Boone, Jr.
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Who We Are

January 26, 1960

Opening officially on January 26, 1960, Folk City was born in Greenwich Village, New York, owned by Mike and John Porco, and booked by a succession of music industry movers and shakers from the Folklore center’s Izzy Young and artist-manager Charlie Rothschild to Allan Pepeer and Stanley Sandowsky (eventual owners of The Bottom Line).

Gerdes Folk City

The club generated several waves of musical genres ranging from folk to rock ‘n’ roll; folk-rock to punk; blues to alternative rock, bringing the world a wide range of music from Pete Seeger to 10,000 Maniacs. Johnny Cash, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and Rev. Gary Davis—all the greats who formed contemporary music’s foundation were part of the Gerdes Folk City family.

Home of Bob Dylan

Although it’s known as the Home of Bob Dylan, it’s also the place where we saw the professional debuts of groups such as Simon & Garfunkel and Peter, Paul & Mary and the Tony-nominated Broadway musical “Pump Boys & Dinettes.”

Our Roots

It was the place where the eventual owners of the Bottom Line club learned their skills and the home to the seeds of the critically acclaimed New York Music Awards, Boston Music Awards, Atlanta Music Awards and L.A. Music Awards. It was the launching pad for Dylan’s historic Rolling Thunder Tour, the place where Joan Baez met Dylan for the first time, and where Dylan debuted a new little tune called “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Musical Royalty

It’s the club where the musical royalty of the ‘60s folk-rock and ‘70s singer-songwriter phenomena first found their voice, and it wasn’t unusual to be catching performances by soon-to-be stars such as Judy Collins, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Mamas and Papas, the Byrds, Lovin’ Spoonful and the Youngbloods, Emmylou Harris (who also waitressed at the club), Joni Mitchell, Phoebe Snow, Loudon Wainwright and many other now well-known names. No place nurtured so many musical artists as Gerdes Folk City.

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Comedians and Actors Too

And don’t forget the comedians and actors who got their early start at the club: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kathy Kinney, Andy Kaufman, Carol Leifer, Richard Lewis, Mary Kay Place, Jim Belushi, Andy Breckman (creator of “Monk”), Martin Mull, Steve Buscemi (a standout of the Folk City Bowling Team, as well), Larry David, Joy Behar and more.

Revival

In the late ‘70s, original owner Mike Porco retired and new owners Marilyn Lash, Joe Hillesum and Robbie Woliver took over. The club underwent a revival, bringing back top-name folkies of the past like Odetta, Arlo Guthrie, Buffy Ste. Marie, Maria Muldaur, Roger McGuinn and The Band.

Making Rock History

Also, in expanding its boundaries to a wider range of music, Folk City truly made rock history with its highly acclaimed alternative music series which featured Elvis Costello, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Alex Chilton, the Minutemen, Smithereens, Violent Femmes, the Replacements, 10,000 Maniacs, Richard Lloyd, Chris Stamey, Dream Syndicate, Husker Du, X, Golden Palominos, the Blasters and many others. A new wave of singer-songwriters were nurtured and found a home at Folk City during this time as well, such as Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin and Lucinda Williams.

Closing a Chapter

In 1986, after having its rent suddenly tripled, Folk City lost its lease and closed at the height of its revival.

Folk City Is Back

But now, five decades after its start, Folk City is back with a series of live concerts, a theatrical production—“Folk City” (a musical based on the club’s history, with production scheduled for Spring 2016), and the reopening of the club in conjunction with the play, along with this website, where a whole new generation of singer-songwriters and vocalists will be introduced and promoted, while also honoring and showcasing the great music acts of our past.

FOLK CITY TIMELINE


  • January 26, 1960

    Opening officially on January 26, 1960, Folk City was born in Greenwich Village, New York, owned by Mike and John Porco, and booked by a succession of music industry movers and shakers from the Folklore center’s Izzy Young and artist-manager Charlie Rothschild to Allan Pepeer and Stanley Sandowsky (eventual owners of The Bottom Line).

  • 70's

    In the late ‘70s, original owner Mike Porco retired and new owners Marilyn Lash, Joe Hillesum and Robbie Woliver took over. The club underwent a revival, bringing back top-name folkies of the past like Odetta, Arlo Guthrie, Buffy Ste. Marie, Maria Muldaur, Roger McGuinn and The Band.

  • 1986

    In 1986, after having its rent suddenly tripled, Folk City lost its lease and closed at the height of its revival.

  • 90's & 2000's

    Gerdes Folk City presented and sponsored concerts and performances in US and in UK. Folk City helped originate the critically acclaimed New York, Boston, LA, and Atlanta Music Awards.

  • Spring 2016

    Five decades after its start, Folk City is back with a series of live concerts, a theatrical production—“Folk City” (a musical based on the club’s history, with production scheduled for Spring 2016), and the reopening of the club in conjunction with the play, along with this website, where a whole new generation of singer-songwriters and vocalists will be introduced and promoted, while also honoring and showcasing the great music acts of our past.

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