‘Village Nights’ brings back that ’60s vibe

Richard Barone, right, with Joey Arias after the latter’s performance at “Village Nights.” Photo by Ben Allison

BY GABE HERMAN | On Sun., Jan. 13, “Village Nights” returns to the Washington Square Hotel. Season two of the monthly musical salon series continues the vision of its founder, Richard Barone, to keep alive the musical spirit of 1960s Greenwich Village.

The guest on the first Sunday night will be singer-songwriter Terre Roche. She also did the show last year and is back by popular demand, according to Barone, a musician and longtime Village resident.

“That show sold out so quickly. It was frustrating for people who wanted to see her, so we had to add a second time,” said Barone, who is also the host of the series.

Barone teaches a course on the Village at The New School called “Music and Revolution.” He released an album two years ago about the neighborhood called “Sorrows & Promises: Greenwich Village in the 1960s.”

Barone led the ’80s pop group The Bongos, who were based in Hoboken. It was back during that time that he first moved to the Village, into a place on Third St. in 1984. He said he didn’t really immerse himself in the neighborhood, though, until the group stopped touring after seven years. After then, he spent more time in the Village, being active with the community board and working with local artists.

The origins of “Village Nights” stretch back to a series of six events he held at Jefferson Market Library, featuring panel discussions and music centered around the local ’60s scene.

Barone happened to be in the Washington Square Hotel one day, at 103 Waverly Place, just across from the northwest corner of the park, and he saw its below-ground-level lounge and thought it would be great for a show.

The hotel agreed and the series kicked off last year with David Amram, the composer, musician and author, in March 2018.

Barone usually starts each show with a song and a story about the Village, before handing things off to the featured artist, who performs and mixes in storytelling, as well.

“I love having guests that are either related to the Village scene historically or currently, or that carry on the songwriter tradition that really had its birth in Greenwich Village,” Barone said.

David Amram, left, and his quartet playing at “Village Nights.” Photo by Richard Barone

Terre Roche was in the trio sister group The Roches, founded in the early ’70s.

“They were very important in the Village scene,” Barone said.

The Roches were discovered by Paul Simon, who produced their first record, and they sang backup on Simon’s classic 1973 album “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon.”

Barone said that Roche talks about her Village connection in the show.

“She’s quite charming and wonderful,” he noted.

After Roche’s performance on Jan. 13, there will be two shows on Sundays in March. On March 3, Anthony DeCurtis will read from his Lou Reed biography “A Life” and perform Village Underground songs with Barone; and musician/writer Mary Lee Kortes will read from her recent book “Dreaming of Dylan,” which features dreams that people have had of Bob Dylan, and she will also perform Dylan tunes.

On March 31, singer-songwriter Jeffrey Gaines will be the guest. Gaines and DeCurtis performed last August at a special “Village Nights” show in Central Park that featured many performers and drew thousands.

Barone said the ’60s revolution in the Village that he teaches about at The New School went beyond politics, to include all aspects of expression, including race, relationships, how people dressed, and the Stonewall Riots.

And he noted that musicians began writing their own songs, instead of relying on Midtown hit factories. Barone said that people would pay to hear what artists like Dylan and Phil Ochs actually had to say, along with what they sang.

“You wanted to hear what they were going to tell us,” he said. “They were giving us news, even if it was personal relationship news. Entertainment was merged with reality. It’s a big deal and it happened in Greenwich Village more than anyplace else.”

Barone is also on the board of governors for the Grammy Awards and has performed locally at the Positively 8th Street Festival.

He said he likes bringing music to the Washington Square Hotel. Founded in 1902, it was formerly called the Hotel Earle. The place attracted many musicians and artists over the years for its proximity to the park and Village scene, including Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones, Dylan Thomas and Ernest Hemingway.

Each “Village Nights” show runs about two hours and offers a full dinner and drink menu. The cover charge is $20 per person. The shows are in the North Square Lounge, and Barone said they create an atmosphere where people can mingle and talk and connect.

The idea, according to Barone, was to bring back the community feel of the ’60s.

“People wouldn’t just make connections personally. They’d make creative networking connections,” he said of that era. “It’s how our Village worked then. That’s what I’m trying to do with this series.”