All posts by admin

Gordon Giltrap

Gordon Giltrap - photo Andy Smy
Gordon Giltrap: Photo Andy Smy

Guitarist Gordon Giltrap, a Patron of Square Roots Productions, recalls the London folk scene in the 1960s.

I feel very proud and privileged to have been a part of the growing London folk scene in the mid-sixties. To have had a residency at the now legendary Les Cousins  was for me a dream come true as a 19-year-old aspiring then singer-songwriter, and to rub shoulders with legendary names such as John Martyn, Wizz Jones, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Jackson C Frank, Ralph McTell, Al Stewart, Paul Simon and many more are memories I shall cherish for ever.

The idea of celebrating that golden age of creativity I think is a wonderful idea, and with the Bringing It All Back Home project growing daily I sincerely hope that when it comes to fruition I am able to be a part of it, here in London and hopefully at Washington Square New York.

Folk City 1935-65 Exhibition

If you’re in New York in the next few months, be sure to go to the Museum of the City of New York for the Folk City 1935-65 exhibit. Curated by Dr Stephen Petrus, it tells the fascinating and moving story of how rural music found its greatest champions amid the brash modernity of Manhattan, a paradox explored in the exhibition and its accompanying book.  Allow plenty of time: in addition to memorabilia and historic artefacts, including the handwritten lyrics to four of Bob Dylan’s most celebrated songs, there are numerous film clips over which to linger, including a documentary on the battle for Washington Square Park in 1961 and newsreels from the civil rights movement, for which folk music provided the soundtrack.

Bob Porco and Betsy Siggins
Bob Porco and Betsy Siggins

Among the many guests on opening night were Bob Porco, grandson of Mike Porco, founder of Gerde’s Folk City, where Bob Dylan’s career was launched, and Betsy Siggins, who presided over the legendary Club 47 in Boston.

Here’s what the New York Times had to say.
And Britain’s fRoots.

A gallery of photos from the opening celebrations follows…

Folk City opens at the Museum of the City of New York

This multi-media exhibition, Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival, features original instruments, handwritten lyrics, and video and film footage, traces the roots of the revival, its growth in New York, its major players, and its impact on American politics and culture during the tumultuous 1960s.

Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival runs until November 29 at the Museum of the City of New York, Manhattan. Find out more about the exhibition on the MCNY website.

Ian Seeberg recalls his years playing in Greenwich Village

It was a time . . .

Ian Seeberg in the 1960sEvery night the streets of the Village in the 1960s were filled with a riotous blaze of neon lights and patchouli oil; a teeming, bell-bottomed sea of peace and love with no shortage of feathers, headbands and beads. Wherever you looked indelible images appeared: a darkened doorway becoming an impromptu stage for someone to muse mystically on a native flute, fervent chanters intoning through clouds of incense, strange figures emerging out of the night fog of Washington Square looking like lost Indian scouts for General Custer – and all of it set to the endless soundtrack of ringing guitar music pouring from clubs up and down the streets. Continue reading Ian Seeberg recalls his years playing in Greenwich Village

The singers, the musicians, the songwriters who made it happen

Jean Ritchie served as inspiration for Bob Dylan, Shirley Collins and Joni Mitchell
Read the full article in the Independent

Shirley Collins: ‘When I sing I feel past generations standing behind me’
Read the full article in the Guardian

Peggy Seeger: Voice of Experience
Read the full article in the Guardian

Bob Dylan: The Uncut Interview (AARP)
Read the full article in AARP The Magazine

A Bob Dylan Primer
Read the full article in the AARP The Magazine

Joan Baez: Singer, Activist, Peacenik, Lover, Legend
Read the full article in the Guardian

Judy Collins Isn’t Slowing Down
Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal

Reassessing Janis Ian: 1970s Folk Icon, Modern-Day Sci-Fi Queen
Read the full article in KQED Arts

Steve Earle Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
Read the full article in Mother Jones

Spring 2015

‘Winter time in New York town, the wind blowin’ snow around.’

So wrote Bob Dylan in ‘Talkin’ New York’, one of his earliest songs, written about his arrival in New York in January 1961. It was pretty damn cold in January 2015 – and that arrival too marked a turning point.

New partners

As a result of a further fact-finding, meet-and-greet mission to New York, Bringing It All Back Home to Washington Square now has a team, including a blue-chip artistic director, and a legion of supporters across New York, including musicians in Greenwich Village who remember being at the Gaslight when Dylan would drop by to try out a new song, and in City Hall. As well as a global media partner, it now has additional partners and sponsors, including the world’s largest music publisher and a hotel whose unique history is inseparable from both the music and that of the Village itself.

Events in New York

Plans are taking shape apace. There will be two high-profile fund-raising concerts taking place in the summer and autumn of this year, as well as a fundraising dinner. An advisory board is being assembled. These will lay the foundations for next year’s music festival, when – over a long spring weekend – we will be bringing it all back home to the Washington Square Park area with concerts, masterclasses, workshops, exhibitions and talks in venues around the Village and in the Square itself. In addition to scheduled events, local cafes and bars – some of which of course date back to the 1960s ­– will be encouraged to organise their own events, just as they did in the 1960s, when Dylan first blew in to town. Thus will the spirit of the sixties be rekindled, half a century on.

Bringing It All Back Home to the UK

Just as the New York events aim to raise funds that will help, in various ways, to preserve and archive the era’s unique but often uncatalogued history, so parallel events in London and in other cities in the UK with strong links to the music will begin to host events under the Bringing It All Back Home banner.

Bringing It All Back Home will, we hope, form part of a unique international charity the aim of which is to promote British and American folk music heritage. In celebrating the past, it will create a legacy for the future while engaging with the vibrant folk community of the present.

Liz Thomson

The Arch Washington Square

1965 was a turning point in the history of music – year zero in a revolution launched when Bob Dylan went electric, releasing Bringing It All Back Home, an album that was controversial, genre-busting – and now a classic. Folk became folk-rock and other albums that year by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, The Byrds and Phil Ochs – and in Britain, Martin Carthy and Bert Jansch – bear witness to the importance of the folk revival that was nurtured in the clubs and coffee houses around Washington Square and spread across the United States and around the world.

The following year, 1966, gave us classics from Simon & Garfunkel, Tim Hardin, the Incredible String Band, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn and of course Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, where New York met Nashville. The hits go on and on, each subsequent year bringing forth seminal albums, released in both Britain and America, based on music which went west, from the Old World to the New, taking root in rural communities in Appalachia and beyond and flowering in the 1960s urban folk revival whose beating heart was Greenwich Village.

These are anniversaries to be celebrated… Come join us for the Folk City Music Festival.

A festival in New York

Our intention is to recreate, re-imagine and bring it all back home to Washington Square and Greenwich Village with a music festival and celebration spanning five decades of music, new and old, and in so doing acknowledge, appreciate and importantly create a legacy of this incredible musical journey for the future.

Folk Music of Washington Square

Folk Music of Washington Square

This 1962 album from Smithsonian Folkways presents some of the music one might have heard in Washington Square Park on a Sunday afternoon in the early 1960s. From bluegrass, ballads, and blues to children’s songs and Spanish guitar, this collection represents Greenwich Village’s vibrant amateur music scene. Listen here.

Bringing It All Back Home
to Washington Square

The festival will celebrate the time, the place and the  people with a weekend of music and associated events, talks, informal gigs, an exhibition, and performances by musicians whose musical roots can be traced back to this, the hub of the New York folk revival. From it will be created an online archive, library and inspiration for future generations of musicians and music-lovers.

Taking place in the Square and in concert halls and theatres around the Village, as well as the handful of remaining clubs from which the revival sprang, the festival will be an homage to the spiritual and geographical heart of the music as much as to the generation itself.


Joan Baez and the Indigo Girls talk about ‘Diamonds & Rust’ and the Hotel Earle, immortalised in the song as “that crummy hotel over Washington Square”. It’s now transformed into the chic and charming Washington Square Hotel, over which the Paul family preside.

Time  Magazine takes a tour of the haunts and venues in Greenwich Village where Bob Dylan spent his early days as a performer

GREENWICH VILLAGE SUNDAY: A documentary film from 1960

Why now?

Despite its singular significance in musical history, no major celebration has taken place in Greenwich Village. Yet in the wake of feature films and documentaries and the success of such bands as Mumford & Sons, interest in folk, country and Americana is once again at a high.

Bringing It All Back Home to Washington Square will mark 50 years since Bob Dylan’s electric debut at Newport, Joan Baez’s Farewell Angelina, The Byrds’ Mr Tambourine Man, Phil Ochs’ I Ain’t  Marching Anymore, Judy Collins’ 5th Album and Paul Simon’s solo outing, as well as the eponymous debuts in Britain of Martin Carthy and Bert Jansch. The Museum of the City of New York is curating an exhibition, Folk City, in 2015.

Watch Elizabeth Thomson, in Washington Square Park, talking about Bob Dylan and the 1960s Greenwich Village music scene.

Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra Records, talks about the night Bob Dylan was booed off the stage at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.

Who we are

Liz ThomsonBringing It All Back Home is the brainchild and passion of Liz Thomson, a London-based journalist, author and broadcaster and lover of the folk revival. She has written widely for newspapers and magazines, including, The Times, the Washington Post, Q and Mojo, for whom she reported on the Joan Baez sessions for Ring Them Bells at the Bottom Line. She has interviewed leading figures from the period, including Baez, Janis Ian, Judy Collins and Leonard Cohen.
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan biography coverAs Elizabeth Thomson, she was the co-author (with David Gutman) of The Dylan Companion,  and she was responsible for preparing “the author’s cut” of No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan by her friend and mentor Robert Shelton, the late New York Times critic who chronicled the Greenwich Village folk years and whose review of Bob Dylan playing at Gerdes Folk City is credited with launching his career. Originally published in 1986 and “abridged over troubled waters” according to its author, the 2011 revised edition restored much material about Dylan himself and the wider socio-political and musical milieu from which he sprang. The new edition was launched at the Washington Square Hotel on Dylan’s 70th birthday.

Mike Luba, founder of Madison House Inc, is a New York-based producer and promoter whose many credits include Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday party at Madison Square Garden, with Joan Baez, Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen, as well as Seeger himself. His work on the tour and movie Big Easy Express with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Mumford & Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show won him a Grammy. Last year he succeeded in reopening Forest Hills Tennis Stadium as a concert venue, raising $1m for the task.

Steve ColeOver the course of two decades, Detroit-born, London-based Steve Cole has amassed a wealth of directing and producing experience ranging through arts, music, history and biography. His subjects have included The Beatles; Stuart Sutcliffe, the Beatle who left to follow his calling as an artist only to die tragically young in Hamburg; Roy Orbison; ABBA; Maria Callas; Placido Domingo; Werner Herzog and Greta Garbo. The Beatles in ‘LOVE’ explored the collaboration between the band and Cirque du Soleil, leading to the creation of the hit Las Vegas show and album Love.


Anthony Keates is a freelance marketing and publicity consultant who has worked extensively in the entertainment industry for over 25 years. An expert business-to-business builder, he has worked with the BBC, Universal Studies, Warner Brothers, HBO, ITV, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Genesis, Monty Python, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, George R R Martin, Ian Rankin and Harlan Coben. He has also worked on TV series such as True Blood, Dexter, Rebus, Call the Midwife and the Hairy Bikers. An obsessive music fan, he comes to this project as both a marketing professional and lover of the music.

Liz Thomson on Democracy Now!

An hour-long special edition of Democracy Now! on PBS, celebrating Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday, features Bob Fass and Liz Thomson in conversation.

Watch online
Broadcast live on Dylan’s 70th birthday, 24 May 2011