Izzy Young, the New York Folklore Center, and Folklore Centrum

When I was a teenage musician in NYC in the 1960s, Izzy Young was one of the people who occupied a place pretty much in the center of the folk music world. He owned the Folklore Center, which he had opened in the late ’50s (I think) on McDougal Street. There, he sold a variety of books and LP records embracing a wide range of folk and ethnic music. Izzy was passionate – about folk music, about poetry, about politics, about social justice… about many things.

More →

Allan Block: Fiddler, Poet, Sandal-maker

My friend, Allan Block, was a colorful person – very much an individual. He was a great fiddler, a fine musician, and a wonderful poet and leather craftsman. His sandal-making shop was an established part of New York City’s West Village for many years. And on Saturday afternoons, it became the meeting place for one of the best Old-Time Music jam sessions in the Northeast USA. Allan had high standards when it came to his music. But he was also kindhearted, which meant that younger players like me and my friend Kenny Kosek could find a place in the mix of players at his shop on Saturday afternoons and, as Bill Monroe might have said, “be part of something.”

More →

Andy May - guitar - close-up

Cambridge, MA

A friend and I loaded up a truck and moved our stuff to Cambridge, MA. Cambridge had a reputation as a more laid back music town than New York, and a place where great music was also happening. My buddy, Rick Lee, had wanted me to move there for some time. …I played music gigs at night and on weekends and worked many different jobs during the days….

More →

Andy May & Kenny Kosek- NY Folklore Center - 1967- Photo by Jack Prelutsky

Early On

New York in the 1960’s was a fabulous place to be for a young guitar nut. There were great players like Dave VanRonk appearing at venues even an under-age guy could go to. Then, there were folks like Doc Watson coming to town! I remember hearing Doc and Reverend Gary Davis jamming backstage at a hall…that was really something! …. Years later I would find myself working with some of my heroes– opening up for folks like Brownie McGee and Sonny Terry or Merle Haggard, or performing with Mike Seeger….
More →