(In Focus) Folk Revival Images By David Gahr:
From the David Gahr Archives and DavidGahr.com, a gallery of the mavericks of the American Folk Music Revival and images of Greenwich Village circa1961 that served as the inspiration for the Coen Brothers new folk noir film and soundtrack, Inside Llewyn Davis.
Included here are such seminal figures on the folk music scene as Dave Van Ronk, Len Chandler, composer of Green, Green Rocky Road, Hedy West, composer of 500 Miles, Tom Paxton, composer of The Last Thing on My Mind, Mike Seeger and John Cohen’s old-timey music group, The New Lost City Ramblers, and the traditional Irish singing group, The Clancy Brothers. Also. here are the figures behind the music, such as music impresario Albert Grossman (Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Odetta, Janis Joplin), rhythm and blues composer Doc Pomus, and Folkways Records founder Moe Asch.
David Gahr’s lens on the folk music scene of the 1950s and ’60s in Greenwich Village and the historic Newport Folk Festivals provided the music and the period with indelible, iconic images remembered by an older generation of folk music fans who were there, and serve as historic record for new generations discovering folk music and the roots of the singer songwriter in the legacy of the folk music revival.
With over 500 essential images of the American Folk Music Revival of the 1950s and 1960s, David Gahr’s The Face of Folk Music (1968) established the photographer as a visual virtuoso and a recognizable influence in any consideration of popular music photography.
The Face of Folk Music is the image bible of the rise of the American musical counterculture in the late 20th century and, though out of print, coveted by collectors. Gahr’s defining portraits of the folk revival mavericks Pete Seeger, The Weavers, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Odetta, Dave Van Ronk, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, both Woody Guthrie and Arlo Guthrie, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and so many more, some sadly forgotten, the scholars, song collectors, and record producers like Charles Seeger, Alan Lomax, Moe Asch, Irwin Silber, and Harry Smith, and vital visual documentation from the epicenters of the folk movement in New York’s Greenwich Village and the historic Newport Folk Festivals from 1959 and throughout the 1960s are historic record through a master’s lens.
The folk and blues images contained in The Face of Folk Music and Gahr’s photographic legacy resonate deeply in the culture in 2013 for a whole new generation of folk music fans with the chart success of the contemporary folk music of Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers, in the cinema directors the Coen Brothers’ latest, the ’60s-era Greenwich Village folk noir film, Inside Llewyn Davis (December 2013), on the page, Jonathan Lethem’s critically praised Greenwich Village novel, Dissident Gardens (2013), as well as the enduring folk icon Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour into the first half of the new century with as much cultural impact as the musical poet created in the 1960s.
Praise for David Gahr and The Face of Folk Music:
“Irascible as the day was long, David Gahr was the greatest music photographers of the last 5 decades, I’d say. He was discovered by the gruff and difficult Moses Asch, head of Folkways Records, who taught David to look for the truth behind the performer. David’s profane love of his work, … and hatred for phoniness in all its manifestations…was infectious, and he managed to see the creative spark as it occurred. Compare the photos of others who worked at the same spots and you’ll see what I mean. David’s pictures are always superior because both David’s and his subjects’s characters shine through” – Richard Carlin, author and scholar, World of Sound: The Story of Smithsonian Folkways, 2008; Country Music: The People, Place, and Moments that Shaped the Country Sound, 2006
“The Face of Folk Musicis a classic, it’s a crime that it is out of print. There are many other well-known music photographers but David Gahr was the king. He was the first “rock” photographer. Everyone of his images embodies his passion, irreverence, and integrity, and seem to whisper his favorite phrase, “Fuck’ em” – Josh Cheuse, photographer, Rockers Galore, Stussy, 2012
“Gahr spent a lifetime capturing the essence of rock and roll–as well as folk, blues, and jazz. He was one of Bob Dylan’s favorite photographers because, as is well documented, Dylan can’t stand phonies (Dylan asked the seventy-nine-year-old photographer to shoot his thirty-first studio album, “Love and Theft” when most musicians look to engage the hottest young photographer. Gahr’s photographers of Dylan go back to the 1963 Newport Folk Festival.) Andre Kertesz was Gahr’s favorite photographer. Gahr used the same darkroom assistant as Walker Evans. There are some photographers who are hacks, but the best, like Gahr, stand proudly in a long line of distinguished photojournalists and art photographers.” – from curator and author Gail Buckland’s Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present, Knopf, 2009
David Gahr’s vintage portrait of Bob Dylan in the East Village on December 2, 1971 is the cover image in the August 30, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.
In Rolling Stone’s new cover story, Mikal Gilmore examines why Bob Dylan burned down his career at the peak of his fame to save himself. Take a first look here.
The Morrison Hotel Gallery is pleased to invite you to the premiere of a print offering from the archive of David Gahr.
The estate of Mr. Gahr is making this first-time offering of many of the photographer’s best-known works in multiple print sizes.
David Gahr is considered among the best music photographers of his generation.
Thursday, October 25th
7PM – 8PM A special panel tribute to David Gahr
Apple Store, SoHo – 103 Prince Street
8PM – 10PM Print exhibition and sale
Morrison Hotel Loft, SoHo – 116 Prince Street
This June, the US Postal Service (in a joint issuance with French postal service, La Poste) will be releasing two new Forever stamps honoring two of the world’s greatest musical artists, Edith Piaf and Miles Davis. The image of Miles Davis is from David Gahr’s iconic photograph of the jazz trumpeter, taken in 1970.
See US Postal Service press release below:
Miles Davis and Edith Piaf Take Center Stage
U.S. Postal Service and France’s La Poste to Honor Renowned Musicians on Forever Stamps in June
WASHINGTON — The United States Postal Service today announced the joint issuance of new Forever stamps honoring two of the world’s greatest greatest musicians, Edith Piaf and Miles Davis. The stamps will be issued with the French postal service, La Poste in June.
“We look forward to issuing these great stamps jointly with La Poste, continuing a tradition of international celebration of stamps,” said USPS Manager, Stamp Services, Stephen Kearney.
Americans may know Edith Piaf best for her cheerful song “La Vie en Rose” (“Life in Pink”), about the experience of falling in love and seeing life through rose-colored glasses; the tune is still heard on the streets of Paris today.
From the beginning, photographer David Gahr helped define the language of Folk, Jazz, Blues and Rock n’ Roll imagery.
He started his career shooting album covers for Folkways Records icons like Woody Guthrie and Big Bill Broonzy.
Over the next 40 years his images would appear in such influential publications as Life, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and People Magazine.
During this time he became one of the most sought after photographers in history.