The Gaslight Cafe

The Gaslight Cafe was a coffeehouse in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York. Also known as The Village Gaslight, it opened in 1958 and became notable as a venue for folk music and other musical acts. It closed in 1971. The Gaslight was originally a ‘basket house’ where unpaid performers would pass around a basket at the end of each set and hope to be paid. Opened in 1958 by John Mitchell, the Gaslight showcased beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso but later became a folk-music club. John Moyant bought the club in 1961, and his father in law Clarence Hood and his son Sam managed the club through the late 1960s. Ed Simon, the owner of The Four Winds, reopened the Gaslight in 1968. The club was run by Betty Smyth, mother of Scandal lead singer Patty Smyth, and blues guitarist/performer Susan Martin until it closed in 1971. Folk musician and actor Gil Robbins worked as the club’s manager in the late 1960s. The club was next door and down the stairs from the street-level bar, the Kettle of Fish, where many performers hung out between sets, including Bob Dylan. Also nearby was the Folklore Center, a bookstore/record store owned by Izzy Young and notable for being a musicians’ gathering place and center of the New York folk-music scene. Live at The Gaslight 1962 (2005), a single CD release including ten songs from early Dylan performances at the club, was released by Columbia Records.  In the Folk Music Encyclopedia, Kristin Baggelaar and Donald Milton wrote ‘The Gaslight was weird then because there were air shafts up to the apartments and the windows of the Gaslight would open into the air shafts, so when people would applaud, the neighbors would get disturbed and call the police. So then the audience couldn’t applaud; they had to snap their fingers instead.’ Brian Fallon, the lead singer and guitarist of The Gaslight Anthem, has said that the band’s name came from The Gaslight Cafe as he had heard it was one of the first places that Bob Dylan had played and liked the sound of the word and the imagery it brought about. …”
The Story of the Gaslight Café, Where Dylan Premiered ‘A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall’

Patrons at the gaslight, 116 McDougal St. Greenwich Village

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Music, Phil Ochs, Poetry, The Fugs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Gaslight Cafe

  1. catherinetodd3 says:

    Thanks for the reminder… those were some of the most profound days of my life, and I was lucky to be there during that time. Oh, to go back in time just one more time… Much Love, Katie from the Gaslight Cafe 1968-1971. I just wish Sandi Sylver was still here to enjoy it with me!


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