VILLAGE notes, PAUL COLBY

“I am very lucky to have lived through a wonderful era,” says Paul Colby reminiscing about his forty plus years as proprietor of The Bitter End on  147 Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village.  “The Bitter End was the Village, and Greenwich Village in the sixties was the place.  The Bitter End could only have existed and succeeded in the Village….I know because I opened a Bitter End in LA and it was a bust.” 

“Greenwich Village was like no other place in the world.  It was a magnet for artists, actors, singers, poets, writers, and musicians and a handful of uncommonly dedicated and ethical managers who believed in the power of the artists they represented.   (There were also plenty of the usual kind of cutthroat agents.)”

“There is always a strong connection between Artist and Audience, and never was there so much as in the sixties.  The music of the sixties was about that feeling, that connection.  The music informed us of politics, social behavior, morals and love life.  It helped us decide what we were going to teach our children and how we would conduct our lives.  Never before, and never again, had music played such an integral part in the lives and manners of our country.”

There was no place for young folksingers to perform.  The bit by bit espresso stands and cafes started to emerge.  To increase business they would add entertainment.  Art D’Lugoff opened the Village Gate, while little bars like Mike Porco’s Folk City began popping up, and small clubs seemed to sprout out of basements like weeds.  When I say small, I mean big enough to hold twenty or thirty people.  It was like a big H, with Bleeker Street on the south and West 3rd Street on the north and MacDougal Street as the bar.  By 1062 there must have been about fifty of these small places.
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