Washington Square Reunion, 2017

ronger sprungs banjo case.jpg

Another chance to pick with the legacy players of the folk revival. Those folks that were there when the big scare took place. The numbers get fewer, but the respect grows each and every year. My conversation with Roger Sprung now in his 87th year. This is always a highlight for me. He is a man that needs little introduction to the folk and bluegrass world, but if he does, then click the link. When it comes to bluegrass he was it's first NYC native to reach beyond the doors of the city and connect with its southern roots. taking trips down south to the major festivals to soak up the music at it's source. His opinions are many and a few moments with him are always memorable, as he expounds on the inner workings of the various instruments.

Soon after the event Frank Beecham posted a reflection on Facebook. Below I copy it in full, as I think he touches on how important the Reunion is to tradition of folk music in NYC. That is if tradition matters. 

An interesting thing happened at the 2017 folk and bluegrass reunion yesterday in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. What had long been a reunion of 1950s and 60s-era folkies got a major shot in the arm from a group of much younger players.

In fact, since I've been going to this "reunion" in 2006, younger players greatly outnumbered the originals. It seemed these younger people sensed that end of an era is coming for the first generation performers and wanted a chance to jam with them before it’s over.

Frank Beacham Washington Square 2017.jpg

Everyone wanted to play with Roger Sprung, 87, the man who single-handedly introduced progressive banjo playing to the folk movement and had performed with Woody Guthrie in the park in his younger days. The circle around him kept changing.

To me, it felt a lot like the torch being passed to a younger generation...as fewer and fewer of the old-timers of the 50s and 60s were there or still playing. This is a natural progression in any music, I assume, but it clearly is happening in the Greenwich Village folk scene.

I guess it’s appropriate in the same year that the Village Voice ceases to print and Rolling Stone is up for sale.

May the music live on!

(Thanks to Frank Beacham and Tara Linhardt for the use of their picture's below. I love the shot of Roger's banjo taken by Tara)