Richard Barone describes “Music + Revolution: Greenwich Village in the 1960s” — a free show that he organized, and will host, at Central Park SummerStage in New York on Aug. 12 — as “a picture of an era.”
The musical era he’s talking about is the Greenwich Village folk, pop and rock scene of the ’60s, and the show’s cast will include both veterans of that time (including John Sebastian, Jesse Colin Young, Maria Muldaur, Melanie, José Feliciano and others) and younger performers influenced by them (such as Nellie McKay, Jeffrey Gaines, The Kennedys and Tammy Faye Starlite).
“It’s not a greatest hits show, and it’s not a nostalgia show,” says Barone. “It’s a very relevant, current show.
“That’s why it’s a mixed cast of artists who are from the ’60s, and artists who are currently working a lot and who are very popular on the scene now. Generally a show that goes to, like, the ’60s era, is a nostalgia show, and sticks to the artists of that time, and songs of that time. But this show is an expression of the era in a different way.”
Barone said that attendees should “think of it like a play, where we’re portraying the era.” Not that there will be characters, and dramatic scenes, and so on.
But “that’s why (writer) Anthony DeCurtis is on board, and (musicians) David Amram and Happy Traum, who are going to be also telling stories of the era, in their own ways, that move a story along about these eight years in Greenwich Village that started the singer-songwriter movement and cemented it as a genre,” Barone said.
Barone — who helped create the Hoboken alternative-rock scene in the ’80s as a member of The Bongos, and now lives in Greenwich Village — released an album in 2016 titled Sorrows & Promises: Greenwich Village in the 1960s. It included songs of the era, covered by him and other artists (including many who will perform on Aug. 12, such as Sebastian, McKay, Amram, The Kennedys and Jenni Muldaur).
Barone also has been presenting shows revolving around this theme, in New York and elsewhere, for the past few years, and is teaching a course on the subject at The New School in New York this year.
He sees a direct link between the Greenwich Village music of the ’60s (epitomized by artists such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Lou Reed) and the alternative-rock music he made in the ’80s, as well as other genres, including hip-hop. Before the breakthrough of Dylan et al., the concept of an artist using popular music to express an honest, inward-looking, possibly poetic but always personal account of his or her own thoughts and feelings (or to create the illusion that that is what is being expressed) didn’t exist.
“When we see an artist now, we tend to think the artist is saying their own thoughts and words,” says Barone. “But that concept arrives in The Village, in the ’60s.
“When you went to see Dylan, or any of these artists that we’re doing songs of, you went to see what they had to say, just as much as you went to see them perform songs. You wanted to hear what they were saying in the songs, because it was a personal message that people could relate to.
“That was a new concept. And that’s what we’re celebrating.”
The SummerStage show will also stay true to the era it is celebrating by featuring a lot of collaborative numbers among the featured musicians.
“We’re trying to create the vibe that might have occurred at (Greenwich Village nightclubs) The Night Owl, or The Gaslight, or The Village Vanguard, where musicians would trade instruments, and support each other,” Barone says.
He says his next album, unlike Sorrows & Promises, will feature original songs.
But they will be songs “in which I use the spirit of that writing style, which is extremely focused on self-expression and ‘the moment’ — you write about what’s happening right in that moment.”
Barone will host “Music + Revolution: Greenwich Village in the 1960s” at SummerStage at the Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, New York, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. Participants will include John Sebastian, Jesse Colin Young, Melanie, José Feliciano, Maria Muldaur, Jenni Muldaur, Nellie McKay, David Amram, Marshall Crenshaw, Happy Traum, The Kennedys, Tammy Faye Starlite, Anthony DeCurtis, Jeffrey Gaines, Steve Addabbo, Cindy Lee Berryhill, Joe McGinty, Jeordie, Syd Straw and Elvis Perkins. There will be no admission charge.
For information, visit cityparksfoundation.org.
Barone will also perform at a benefit for NJArts.net that is scheduled for Tierney’s Tavern in Montclair, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m., and will also feature Barone’s Bongos partner Jim Mastro, the Glenn Mercer Band and Elk City. For tickets or more information, visit the show’s Facebook page.