Quite by accident I recently discovered this fascinating 2012 documentary on the folk revival that took place in the fifties, sixties and seventies in Greenwich Village. The reverberations of these young people's learning, creation and performances are still ripping across our cultural pond, not just musically but also politically and socially. And you don't have to be a musician to marvel at the story.
Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation features interviews of the many well-known musicians and singer/songwriters who got their start there including Pete Seeger, Kris Kristofferson, Don McLean, Peter Yarrow, Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Joni Mitchell, Lucy and Carly Simon, Tom Chapin, Judy Collins and dozens of others interspersed with archival footage of many others (including Richard and Mimi Fariña.) While not specifically about dulcimer music and people, Greenwich Village certainly influenced other dulcimer boomers like Neal Hellman, Ralph Lee Smith, and many others, and on the music dulcimer players listen to and play from David Schnaufer to today,
Starting in 1961, many musicians in The Village learned their art and developed as performers from each other in an environment of mutual admiration, sharing and friendly rivalry. Along the way, they transitioned from songs about love and relationships to write and sing about "radical" social ideas to challenge the status quo in American: as one interviewee puts it, they were "music journalists" who promoted civil liberties for all, protested the Vietnam War, and held governments accountable for their actions. Greenwich Village was a beacon of hope for an entire generation of young people who used peaceful activism as a means for change.
I confess, it makes me wish fervently that we would have a new folk revival, filled with musicians and artists, all in once place, who would use their passion to inspire our country to meet the challenges of our day. Sit back and enjoy this remarkable peek through a window to the past, of a time and place that comes across as fresh, new and inspiring today.