It’s the right confluence of events with:
• The Village Trip celebrating the arts in Greenwich Village Sept. 27th-30th;
• Girl From the North Country, a wonderful Conor McPherson play with a Depression Era theme that is brilliantly enlarged by some 20 Bob Dylan songs having just begun performances at the Public Theater; and
• Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done on-going through Feb. 3rd at the Museum of Modern Art;
• Artist David Wojnarowicz’s retrospective at the Whitney and NYU Bobst Library.
While there are a few tickets available for Girl From the North Country’s limited run at the Public (it is expected to move to Broadway), there are plenty of opportunities to partake in The Village Trip, and time to take in the Judson and Wojnarowicz exhibits, but the focus here is on The Village Trip.
The Village Trip is a labor of love by Liz Thomson, a British journalist and an editor who worked with the late Robert Shelton on his 1986 (and the much later update) Dylan biography, “No Direction Home.”
Shelton’s original NY Times review of Dylan’s first appearances in the Village certainly focused a spotlight on that boy from the North Country of Minnesota, which is where the McPherson play takes place.
Liz may have lived in London, but she was and remains a Village folkie at heart. And she couldn’t have anticipated when she first started telling me and others of her dream of a “Bringing It All Back Home” festival she wanted to stage in Washington Square Park to celebrate that Dylan album’s 50th anniversary that the Village would be celebrated in so many ways this fall.
The anniversary came and went, but Liz enlisted Liz Law as her Stateside executive director and many trans-Atlantic trips later the two have built on the original concept which now incorporates not just folk, but the Village relationship to jazz, drama, poetry, and more.
The result is a series of free and paid concerts, guided walks, lectures, exhibitions, and more coming up Sept. 27-30 at various venues including Washington Square Park (Suzanne Vega headlines), the Bitter End (Happy Traum, Tom Chapin, David Massengill, and others), the New School (David Amram and others), and other locales.
Artist-in-residence Amram was and remains active in many of the arts being extolled, and much as he hates the term, is a key link between the “Beats,” the folkies, and the classical world.
Get tickets for Girl From the North Country if you can. You will be moved, and humbled, and amazed at the underlying meanings no one could have anticipated for the Dylan catalog. The MOMA Judson exhibit reflects another facet of the Village’s thriving arts scene. And the Wojnorowicz exhibits are harrowing but representative of a later downtown (and outsider) era. Most immediately, though, sign on for the various events that are part of next weekend’s celebration of The Village Trip. The Dylan, O’Neill, Millay, and Kerouac spirits will be thriving there, too.