Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Izzy Young (1928–2019)

The folk-music advocate and entrepreneur Izzy Young has died at the age of ninety. The New York Times has an obituary. Here are two paragraphs from an installment of Young’s Sing Out! magazine column “Frets and Frails” (February/March 1967):

Write to Steve Ditlea, WKCR-FM (89.9), Columbia University, NYC, 10025, for full listings of folkmusic shows that include tapings from the Bitter End, the Gaslight, the Feenjon, the Folklore Center and the Washington Square. The most popular show is on Sat. from 7:30 to 9:00 pm. . . . Send your name to Broadside, 215 W. 98th St., NYC, 10025, to aid their petition to bring back Pete Seeger’s “The Rainbow Quest” to TV. . . . Arlo Guthrie’s rendition of his “Alice’s Restaurant” was the high point of the Philadelphia Folk Festival. It sensibly combined elements of his father’s style of talking blues, contemporary notions of the absurdity of human life and protest of the draft in rolling comedy that never lost its sharpness or magical weave.

Belafonte has updated his calypso songs with brass on his latest LP. . . . Capitol has formed a new label, Folk World, to capture part of the “definite folk market, fat and solid”. . . . Now that the Spike Drivers of Detroit are beginning to make it their lead singers have lost weight to improve their image and their girl singer has taken to wearing bras. . . . Why are the Beatles the only group that smiles on publicity shots? Everyone else in Datebook and Teenset feels they have to look dour and hard to be hip. . . . The Loving Spoonful are one of the few groups that are growing up as they become more popular. In fact it’s easier to talk to them now than ever before and their music is not afraid to be happy.
I wasn’t subscribing to Sing Out! in 1967 — I was a kid, with several years to go before becoming a subversive teenager. I bought this issue several years after its publication for a cover story on Mississippi John Hurt. “Frets and Frails” disappeared not long after I began my subscription.

[The Spike Drivers? You can find them in Wikipedia. YouTube has a compilation album and two lip-synced songs — one, two — from a TV appearance. The group took its name from Hurt’s “Spike Driver Blues.”]

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