Andy’s Notes ♪♪♪ – Earliest to Most Recent

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This page is a collection of all Andy’s Notes ♪♪♪, in the order in which Andy wrote them. The subject-matter skips around, chronologically speaking, depending upon when Andy was inspired to write on a particular topic. And the topics are wide-ranging – from biographical blurbs, to philosophical musings, to his report on a recent show, to music history tidbits – it’s all fair game. Check back every so often to see what Andy’s thinking about now!!

  • My Small Town

    ©Andy May, Lauren LeCroy May, Brycen Fast (Swift River Music/BMI)

    Behind the Song

    Andy: What a gift it is when you find yourself in a good place among good people. 

    LaurenBrycen came to us with the idea for this song and a start on the lyric. I loved where he was coming from, and worked on it over a period of time. The song didn’t make it on to Brycen’s CD, Flyin’ Fast, but Andy put it on his 2016 release, Room for Roots, the title of which is actually from a line in this song!

    Listen

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    Credits:

    Lyrics

    My Small Town
    ©Andy May, Lauren LeCroy May, Brycen Fast (Swift River Music/BMI)

    Life moves slow in my small town
    But that’s all right with me
    What’s the hurry, I’ve already found
    There’s no place I’d rather be
    It’s a sane pace, don’t need the rat race
    Keepin’ me runnin’ till my heart breaks

    Chorus:
    You might think there’s nothing to do
    In a little town like mine
    But city attractions are only distractions
    And I don’t have the time
    There’s room for roots in my small town
    And there’s time for family
    Way out in the country, with the ones I love around me
    I can be who I want to be

    The country folks in my small town
    Are the salt of the Earth
    The kind of neighbors it’s good to have around
    Can’t put a price on what that’s worth
    And peace of mind is not so hard to find
    In this little country town of mine

    Chorus

    Bridge:
    I used to hear the highway call
    “That little town will keep you small”
    But that’s not true at all

    Chorus

    Discography

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  • Same Ol’ Blues

    ©Andy May, (Swift River Music/BMI)

    Behind the Song

    Andy(Coming soon)

    Listen


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    Credits:

    Lyrics

    Same Ol’ Blues
    ©Andy May, (Swift River Music/BMI)

    Gonna walk into the kitchen
    Have another cuppa coffe
    I’m lookin’ for a way
    To shake the old blues off me
    The pile of bills gets thicker
    My wallet’s gettin’ thinner
    Man, I wonder what the heck
    We’re gonna have for dinner
    Times have changed
    But it’s the same old blues

    It don’t take a genius
    It don’t take a committee
    To see that times are tough
    In the country and the city
    So I’ll keep my eyes open
    Stand and watch
    Tighten up my belt
    Just one more notch
    Times have changed
    But it’s the same old blues

    Bridge:
    Gotta keep it
    Between the lines
    Gotta keep on lookin’
    For the better times

    Grandpa taught us this
    And it made a big impression
    How they all pitched in
    And made it through the Great Depression
    So I’ll get up early
    Put in my time
    Maybe tomorrow
    The sun will shine
    Times have changed
    But it’s the same old blues

    Bridge

    Discography

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  • Izzy Young, the New York Folklore Center, and Folklore Centrum
    Photograph by Ray Sullivan. Image Folder 124_03: Photo-Sound Associates photographs, circa 1957-1960 in the Ronald D. Cohen Collection #20239, Southern Folklife Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Photograph by Ray Sullivan. Image Folder 124_03: Photo-Sound Associates photographs, circa 1957-1960 in the Ronald D. Cohen Collection #20239, Southern Folklife Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    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 on Macdougal Street. There, he sold a variety of books and LP records embracing a wide range of folk and ethnic music, as well as musical instruments. Izzy was passionate – about folk music, about poetry, about politics, about social justice… about many things. The Conscience of the Folk Revival-Cover_optHe was also a prolific writer, and his newsletters and columns – in which he voiced his views on musical trends and events, among other things – were published in a variety of magazines. His passion attracted musicians to the Folklore Center, and it became known as a place where you could learn what was happening in the folk music world of NYC and well beyond.

    NY Folklore Center - New York, NY - c. 1970

    A very young Andy – NY Folklore Center – New York, NY – ca. 1970

    By the time I was active in the music scene in the mid-to-late ’60s, Izzy had moved the store a few blocks west to 6th Avenue, and it had become a gathering place, a performance venue, and a musical instrument shop as well. (I bought my first Martin guitar, a 1949 D-28, at Izzy’s shop in 1964!) Izzy had also taken on the role of promoter for musicians whose work he valued. In the early ’60s, he rented a hall and gave a struggling and relatively unknown singer/songwriter named Bob Dylan his first concert opportunity. He did the same for me some nine years later.

    Carnegie Hall - Hootenany - Mag Ad-1967My association with Izzy led to me and my band, The Star Spangled String Band, being included in a Carnegie Hall “Hootenanny” concert hosted by Pete Seeger. I also played in the house band for Izzy on his live weekly radio show on WBAI. Izzy had lots of guests on that show: I remember one day when Jerry Jeff Walker came in and sang his new song: Mr. Bojangles. I also played square dance music for Izzy when he called a big dance – and I probably played a political rally or two for him as well!

    Star Spangled String Band-ca. 1969-Indian Neck Folk Festival-Ron Cohen Coll-UNC-Unkn photographer-Folder 194 Scan 13

    The Star Spangled String Band, 1969. Image Folder 194: Scan 13. Photo-Sound Associates photographs, circa 1960-1969 in the Ronald D. Cohen Collection #20239, Southern Folklife Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Izzy called me one day in the late ’60s and told me to come down to the store and bring my guitar. He said there was a girl there from the Washington, DC, area, and he thought I might enjoy making music with her. Her name was Emmy Lou Harris – at that point, pretty much unknown outside the DC area. We played a bunch of music that afternoon! Izzy also put me on a concert bill with Rory Block, my friend Allan Block’s daughter, who was just starting her career.

    I could go on and on with Izzy stories. The most recent one, though – and one of  my favorites – is how things have come full circle:

    After I moved to Cambridge, MA, in 1970, I didn’t see much of Izzy. A few years later, I heard that he had moved to Stockholm, Sweden, where he opened the Folklore Centrum and more or less continued doing all the things he had done in New York. He’s been there ever since. I would occasionally hear about him from musician buddies who were gigging in Europe, but I lost touch with him myself.

    Izzy Young and Andy May-Folklore Centrum-Stockholm-2016

    Izzy Young-Andy May-Folklore Centrum-Stockholm-2016.

    In early 2016, I read that the Smithsonian Institution’s American Folklife Center had acquired Izzy’s writings, notes, and recordings from the old days for their collection. On a whim, I called him up out of the blue, and as we talked it seemed like the years rolled away. He promptly invited me to do a show and a Master Class at the Folklore Centrum, and he put me in touch with Brian Kramer, an associate of his, who invited me to appear as a guest at the International Blues Jam the same week. And so, in October of 2016 – some 46 years after I had last seen Izzy – I headed to Sweden for three unexpected gigs and to visit my old friend and mentor, Izzy Young, now in his late 80’s.  (Read about this visit in my post: Room for Roots in Sweden.)

    More on Izzy:

    February 4, 2016 It is with great sadness we share the news of Izzy Young’s passing. Izzy was a vocal, dynamic, and unflagging supporter of folk music who left an indelible impression on lives and culture. He was a friend – to me and to the music. His NY Times obituary, below, is a wonderful tribute.

    New York Times Obituary by Margalit Fox – February 5, 2019

    Obituary on Izzy’s website

    Settled in Sweden, the Man Who First Booked Dylan. New York Times. DEC. 7, 2016. 

    The first stop for aspiring 1960s folkies, Izzy Young’s Folklore Center. March 8, 2016. A guest post by archivist Todd Harvey, the acquisitions coordinator at the American Folklife Center.

    Unpacking the collection of a ’60s New York City folk music stalwart. Folklife Today. Jan. 21, 2016. by

    Izzy Young at the Dylan Thomas Birthplace – with interesting background info.

    The Conscience of the Folk Revival: The Writings of Israel “Izzy” Young Ed. by Scott Barretta (review by Philip Nusbaum)

    In the UNC – Chapel Hill Library – Articles and Books by and about Izzy

    Collection Number: 20239: Ronald D. Cohen Collection, 1914-2005 (bulk 1940-2005) in the UNC Southern Folklife Collection. Multiple photographs, correspondence, etc. (Search page for “Izzy)

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  • “Room for Roots” Tour – Washington, DC, Area

    September 29 – October 2, 2016

    andy-mayRamping up:

    September was a busy month! With the big Station Inn Room for Roots CD release concert and my performance with Kenny Malone at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum behind us, we headed out to Winfield, Kansas, and the Walnut Valley Festival. In addition to my usual whirlwind of  my own sets and Acoustic Kids Showcases, I was honored to participate in a late night concert celebrating the life and memory of guitarist, Pete Huttlinger. Then it was back to Nashville for the Americana Music Association Festival and Conference. I attended several excellent presentations during the conference, and I performed in the Bill Wence Promotions showcase on Music Row at Bobby’s Idle Hour. That was a blast! The venue brought back some honky tonk memories for me, for sure –  it has the vibe! A few days later we set out for a two-and-a-half week tour which would take us to the D.C. area, Sweden, and Ireland. I’ve nick-named it the “Diggin’ Deep for Roots” Tour – there were so many new and renewed connections that we made on the trip that the name seems to fit on many levels.

    Heading out:

    On September 29, Lauren and I flew out to Washington D.C. for a house concert in Rockville, MD. We spent a couple of days visiting Dan and Amy Sheesley, friends of Lauren’s from her undergraduate days at Colorado State University some 40 years ago. Dan and Amy put us up in their lovely home, which, by the way, they have opened up for guests as Air B&B hosts. (If you’re headed to DC and want a great place to stay, I highly recommend you look them up on AirBnB.com!) Our hosts for the concert itself – as well as for our last night in the area – were Chuck and Laura Woolery, who are, coincidentally, also Lauren’s friends from her CSU days in the 1970s. Chuck and Laura have created a wonderful, welcoming space (with great acoustics!!) in their home for events like this, and it was a delightful visit as well. I really enjoyed meeting this interesting and eclectic group of folks, and I know it was wonderful for Lauren to reconnect with them after so many years had gone by.

    20161001- Andy May House Concert - Rockville, MD

    House concert photos: View full-size on Flickr.

    The show was great fun! We met many lovely folks who had come out for the concert, and there were some familiar faces in the crowd, too: Mike Licht, my cousin, who I hadn’t seen in way too long, and Bill Mulroney, whose album, Second Wind, I produced in Nashville some years ago. In fact, Bill loaned me his fine Martin guitar to put in open tuning for the show so that I could perform “Stone Soup from Hard Times,” a song on the new CD. After visiting into the wee hours that night, we got up the next morning and drove out to Reston, Virginia, to visit with Ralph Lee Smith and his lovely wife Susie.

    John Burke, Kenny Kosek, Andy May, Richard Blaustein, and Ralph Lee Smith at the NY Folklore Center, 1967. Photo by Jack Prelutsky

    John Burke, Kenny Kosek, Andy May, Richard Blaustein, and Ralph Lee Smith at the NY Folklore Center, 1967. Photo by Jack Prelutsky

    Ralph is a dear old friend. He is also a renowned expert on the history of the American Appalachian dulcimer and many other aspects of American folk music. His book, The Story of the Dulcimer (second edition), was just published by the University of Tennessee Press after many years of the first edition being out-of-print. Ralph, now in his late 80s, plays wonderful dulcimer and harmonica and sings fabulous old songs. He was part of a great crowd of pickers and players that I fell in with when I was a teenager living in Greenwich Village in the 1960s. In fact, Ralph played harmonica with me, Kenny Kosek, Al Feldman, and John Burke when the Star Spangled String Band played Carnegie Hall in 1967. In those days, too, Ralph’s West Village apartment was home to many fabulous picking sessions. It was also just down the street from the wonderful old-timey fiddler Alan Block’s sandal shop, where a great old-timey jam took place every Saturday afternoon, and a few streets away from Izzy Young’s Folklore Center on 6th Avenue, which was the hub of the folk music world at the time. In Greenwich Village – The Happy Folk Singing Days – ’50s & ’60s, a book he co-authored with Madeline MacNeil, Ralph writes about all these things and many more. <pic of Andy & Ralph in the old days We were so busy yacking, none of us thought to take a picture, so here’s one from 196?.>

    Though the Folklore Center was a hot spot in the world of  roots music in the ’60s, Izzy moved to Stockholm, Sweden, in 1973 and opened the Folklore Centrum there. Later on the very day we visited Ralph, Lauren and I would be flying out to Stockholm to visit Izzy, and later that week I was booked to lead a workshop and give a concert at his Folklore Centrum. There was lots of talk that morning about the old days. It was a great visit, but way too short: We had a plane to catch!

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  • “Room for Roots” in Sweden

    October 3-10, 2016: Three very different gigs and some historic visiting!

    See full photo album on Flickr

    Izzy Young and the Folklore Centrum

    Izzy Young and Andy May-Folklore Centrum-Stockholm-2016

    Izzy and Andy May outside the Folklore Centrum

    We arrived in Stockholm on Monday, October 3. On Tuesday, Lauren and I took the subway across town to find Izzy Young at Folklore Centrum. Folks were friendly and pointed us in the right direction to find Wallmar Yx Kullsgatan 2bv. When we arrived,  I looked through the big, glass, street-level store window, and there was Izzy – now in his late 80s, but very much the same as ever. I had not seen him in 46 years!

    I had called to let Izzy know that we would be dropping by that afternoon, and he was eagerly expecting us. So began four days of hanging out, reminiscing, and catching up with Izzy and meeting many folks who regularly visited his shop. We also got to visit with Izzy’s daughter Philomene Grandin, who was so kind and helpful in so many ways, and her husband, Lars Demian: a great fellow and a fine Swedish roots/rock  musician.

    Concert at the Folklore Centrum

    The Folklore Centrum is a bright store full of many, many books, posters/art and cds. The large open space in the center of the store is perfect for small gatherings and events. On Thursday, October 6, I presented a guitar workshop at the store, and on Friday the 7th I performed a concert there. The last time I had performed for Izzy was a concert I did for him in 1970 in NYC! Izzy was in attendance for both of my events at his Stockholm store and he made sure that I knew that he thoroughly enjoyed them. The audience, too, was appreciative and very responsive. Remarkably, most of the folks we met in Sweden are fluent in English – as their 2nd or 3rd language! The audience all laughed at my jokes and seemed to enjoy and understand the lyrics of our songs. It was a very informal event, and I really enjoyed it.

    Andy May-Izzy Young-Stockholm-Folklore Centrum

    Talking over old times

    Lauren and I spent a fair amount of time hanging out at the store that week. I had brought prints of a number of photos of the New York Folklore Center, and we talked a lot about those and the old days. We also heard many tales of Izzy’s times and experiences during the years of the folk scene in NYC in the 1950s and 60s  and what moving to Sweden had meant for him. He also shared his opinions on the folk music scene in Sweden. Izzy always seemed surprised when I mentioned what a huge affect he had on me and so many others back in the 60s. But because of his efforts as a presenter, I got to see and hear so many of the great and iconic traditional musicians of that era. And, because of his willingness to present young performers, I was able to begin my career and musical journey in the 60s as a singer/songwriter in concert at the Folklore Center in NYC.

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

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

    When we first arrived in Stockholm, Izzy was exited to share with me that the New York Times was sending a reporter over to interview him the following week. The fact that in the early 1960’s he had helped a young Bob Dylan, who was just starting out, and had presented Dylan’s very first concert, had not been forgotten by the press, but it seemed to surprise Izzy a little that folks still remembered that. Then, not more than three days after we left Stockholm, it was announced that Bob Dylan had won a Nobel prize! Philomene informed me that things got very exiting around there that week!

    Brian Kramer’s International Blues Jam

    Andy May-Brian Kramer-Blues Jam-Engelen Pub-Stockholm-2016

    Andy and Brian  – Jammin’ the Blues at Engelen Pub

    We said our goodbyes and thank yous to Izzy on Saturday morning, October 8, and then  trekked across town to Gamla Stan, the oldest part of the very old city of Stockholm, to the Engelen Pub for my appearance at Brian Kramer’s International Blues Jam. (We, of course, stopped by the renowned Hellstone Music store on the way so I could check out a few guitars!) Brian, a friend and fan of Izzy’s, had invited me to be his special guest for this show and jam with the band. And jam we did to a lively crowd! Brian is a cordial host and he and his band are fine players and play sweet American rootsy blues.  I led several tunes, including, “M&O Blues,” “Trouble in Mind,” my own “Same Ol’ Blues” from Room for Roots, and some low-down mando blues backed up by the band.  I jammed a bit on some of their numbers, too. I had a blast and was made to feel very welcome by Brian, the band, and the audience. After the jam, Lauren and I  wandered around Gamla Stan a bit. It was fascinating and lovely!

    Lovely inlet-Vaxholm

    Lovely inlet-Vaxholm

    Tourist-ing

    With my Stockholm commitments out of the way, I was  free to do a bit of sightseeing the next day. Lauren and I took a ferry to the island of Vaxholm in the Stockholm Archipelago. We passed dozens of islands, some as tiny as a rock jutting out of the water, on the way. The tourist season was past, and the island was very quiet and peaceful – and quite beautiful. We explored a bit, then caught a bus back to the city – though we had come by ferry, we discovered that a road also runs from island to island for a ways out into the archipelago. We laughed at ourselves a little, then hopped aboard: We wanted to get back in plenty of time get ready to head out the next day for the last stop on the tour- Ireland. We had made no plans for this last leg of our Room for Roots journey and wondered just what would unfold.

    Photos

    Lauren took advantage of the time I was prepping for shows to wander around Stockholm and take a bunch of pictures. She’s shared them – and some of my shows, etc. – on Flickr. You can scroll through them right on this page or go to Flickr to see them in all their glory.

    "Room for Roots" in Stockholm - Andy May 2016 Tour

    View full-size on Flickr

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