Het is ondertussen een paar weken geleden dat het voorgaande deeltje van deze (ondertussen behoorlijk lange) serie op Birdeyes werd gezet. Soms heb je dat soort dingen. Eerlijk gezegd is het langzamerhand een beetje tijd geworden om weer een nieuw deeltje Bill Clifton te plaatsen. Bill Clifton was slechts één jaar – in 1963 – verbonden aan het Newport Folk Festival. De voorgaande paar deeltjes gingen uiteraard over de 1963 editie van het Newport Folk Festival, dit deeltje vanzelfsprekend ook…

Arrangements at Newport


We just talked about that first Newport Festival that was, as you emphasized, a nonprofit festival. When did that change? When did it change? It didn’t change. I say that. I don’t know that but as far as I knew, as a founding director I should know but I don’t. I haven’t kept up with it at all. They haven’t sent me any; I just did it that one year. I started to organize in ’61 with the committee and it took until July of ’63 before we mounted that festival. So it took a year and a half of work to put it together and then I left almost immediately after that. I left in September of ’63 so a month and a half after the festival I was gone. And Mike Seeger took my place for the following year and I think three years. I think each person was supposed to stay on three years, if I remember right, so Mike did that. And then probably Ralph Rinzler took over, I don’t remember, but anyhow somebody else who knows the music pretty well. And I didn’t really keep up with it.

Ralph Rinzler (links) en Doc Watson (rechts). Foto verbeterd en ingekleurd met behulp van de software van MyHeritage.

The attorney, a man named Hoffman, I think Elliott Hoffman was his name, Elliott was responsible for sending out the minutes of meetings and any financial information that he would have. But after I moved to England I think I asked for him to send it one time, because I’d never heard anything, and they sent it one time. And that was that. And I didn’t keep up with it after that. And I figured Mike Seeger would keep me informed, if there was anything I really needed to know that he would tell me. But I’ve never asked him whether it changed from non-profit or not. But as far as I know it still runs that way. But when I say non-profit, we always paid everybody’s expenses. In other words we’d pay if they had to fly from California we paid their return airfares. If they had to stay at Newport, which they did of course, then we provided accommodation. They had to eat three meals a day; we provided three meals a day. So whatever they got for a fee, which was fifty dollars on the first festival, it probably changed after that but the first festival it was fifty dollars a day, for each person. So, like The Morris Brothers were there two days and they got $100 dollars each day, with no expenses, I mean, everything else was paid for. So they were able to take something home at the end of it. It worked for everybody. I mean Joan Baez was willing to work for fifty dollars. Peter, Paul & Mary for $ 150, ‘cause there’s three of them.

David Hoffman maakte de bovenstaande clip in 1972. Dit is zijn toelichting op de beelden. The Morris Brothers were wonderful characters, great musicians and so kind to me and my crew when we showed up at their body shop to film them picking a few tunes with Earl Scruggs and his son Randy. This clip is a portion of my 90 min. documentary on the great banjo picker, Earl Scruggs which was made in 1972. Earl played backup banjo for the brothers when they first recorded ‘I Want To Be Your Salty Dog’ which became very popular on the radio. I love their beautiful North Carolina mountain accents and their subtle sense of humor. I love watching this moment as I did when I first filmed it. I do not know what it is about country-bluegrass-mountain-old time music that so appeals to me. If I am in a bad mood or having a tough day, it lightens it. If I am feeling really wonderful and floating through life, it becomes even more wonderful when I hear those songs, backed up by flat picking guitars and 5-string banjos. And when you are lucky enough as I was to go to the North Carolina mountains, the southern Appalachians, into those small hollers with the mountains all around, and just sit down and listen. What you hear is magnificent. I once played the banjo which I have learned in high school, I was okay until I heard these folks and others like them and then I just put the banjo down and never played it again. I’d rather listen to masters like Earl. My documentary also has unusually great performances by Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, Joan Baez and of course Earl Scruggs. ‘Salty Dog Blues’ is a traditional blues song that has been recorded by many different artists over the years. It is a blues standard that has been recorded by numerous artists, including Lead Belly, Elvis Presley, and the Allman Brothers Band, among others. The song is a traditional blues form with lyrics that tell the story of a man who has been cheated on by his lover and is feeling down and depressed as a result. The song has a catchy, upbeat melody and has been covered by a wide range of artists, making it a well-known and enduring classic of the blues genre.
Nog steeds heb ik het gevoel dat ik graag bij het Newport Folk Festival van 1963 geweest zou zijn. In praktische zin onmogelijk natuurlijk, want ik was toen nog maar net 5 jaar oud. Maar het programma van dit festival… Allemaal indrukwekkende namen…

I imagine that Joan Baez would not be interested in playing nowadays, would she? I don’t know what Joan is doing nowadays. I have no idea. She was very politically motivated, probably by Pete Seeger, as many people were. In fact the city people in general were very much motivated by Pete Seeger. And if they were not actually members of the communist party they certainly leaned very heavily towards that way of thinking. I don’t know where people have gone with that since the break-up of the Soviet Union. I often wonder what happened to anybody. I mean I read terrible stories about people who left America to go to the Soviet Union because they believed in the cause. And now they were 75 years old and they had to walk six floors up to their flat and lived in a place that the rain still came in through the roof and, you know, those kinds of things. And you think ‘well’, I mean, it must hurt so bad to think that everything that you believed in has gone down the drain. And you’re left with nothing.

Pete Seeger staat links van Bob Dylan op het Newport Folk Festival van 1963. Foto verbeterd en ingekleurd met behulp van de software van MyHeritage.

And your high ideals are all smashed. I can imagine that. We saw Joan Baez in York, England two years ago and we tried to get her to do an interview but no. She wouldn’t do it?

Kees Jansen en ik zijn een keer naar York geweest waar we Joan Baez in Th Barbican op hebben zien treden. Waarschijnlijk is dat het optreden waar Kees het in dit stukje van het interview over heeft. We deden wel vaker van dat soort (gekke) dingen. Ik herinner me ook nog die ene keer dat we de muziek van Tom Russell hadden ontdekt. Hij trad op in het voorprogramma van Nanci Griffith in The Royal Albert Hall in Londen en speelde daar drie songs. Voor die drie songs zijn we toen naar Londen gegaan (we kregen ook nog de kans voor een interview). Een paar weken later stond de beste man in Noordpolderzijl voor twintig man te spelen. Kees Jansen en ik waren er toen trouwens ook weer bij…

No, nor sign autographs, nothing. She didn’t even come out after the show. So we were a bit disappointed by that. I don’t know her at all. I’ve only talked to her a couple of times. She gave a party in London one time, to which I was invited. And I went and there were hundreds of people there and most of them I didn’t know. And even those I did know were sort of estranged to me. Theo Bikel is another person I’ll mention again. He was there and he’d grown a beard and a moustache and I didn’t recognize him at all.

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