During the early nineteen-sixties, the Boston/Cambridge area fostered one of the most vibrant folk music scenes in the country. I lived for the end of the day when I was out of school and headed for the coffeehouses to see so many of the players who are now legendary.
Sitting a few feet in front of Phil Ochs at The Unicorn and talking with him there, the night after his famed Carnegie Hall concert-carrying John Hurt's guitar down the stairs and into The Club 47 while he followed with a wide elfin smile on his face-playing poker with Tim Hardin. I was just a kid then but those experiences, and that time in music, became the fabric of my life.
I signed up to play a few songs each Sunday afternoon at The Café Yana in Boston and then hustled over to The Club 47 in Cambridge to play at the hootenanny there in the evening. I eventually became one of the hosts at the 47 hoot and in 1966, got my first coffeehouse gig at a place called The King's Rook in Ipswich, Massachusetts. I was playing a Martin guitar then. I still have that guitar today. It is my best musical friend.
At that time, I was singing mostly traditional material but writing my own songs came before too long being influenced by writers like Pete Seeger, Gordon Lightfoot, and Ian and Sylvia. They wrote songs that were larger than any one person, songs that brought something of value to people, and for those very reasons, their songs would come to endure.
I would like to think that bringing something of universal value to people has been one of the foundation blocks of my own writing. After all, that's what folk music is all about, songs that are bigger than any one person who sings them.
And now it is over forty-five years later. I have sung in all fifty states, although I admit that one was a karaoke performance at a bar in Honolulu. Music is really all I have ever known. It has brought me everything I have.
When somebody would ask my friend, the late Tommy Makem, "Tommy, when are you going to retire?" Tommy would always respond, "Around ten o'clock tonight."
I have always felt that I was blessed to live a life in music and to know that, surely, it must have been a lucky star that led me here.
New Hampshire, July 2012