The late Mike Porco was one of those between-the-cracks figures who helped change the trajectory of contemporary music, although his name remains unknown to many. Porco was the proprietor of Gerde’s, an Italian restaurant on Fourth Street in New York’s Washington Square that eventually became Gerde’s Folk City, a crucial hub of the city’s 1960s folk music scene that hosted early performances by Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Judy Collins, Phil Ochs, and many others. Tonight, to in honor of Porco’s 100th birthday, Beacon’s Town Crier will present an evening of live musical performances by a cast of folk-related greats that includes David Amram, Tom Chapin, David Massengill, Rob Stoner, Vince Martin, and Bev Grant.
Gerde’s became a music venue in 1960 when Porco struck up a partnership with booker Izzy Young, the director of the Folklore Center. In Chronicles, his 2004 autobiography, Bob Dylan called Gerde’s “the preeminent folk club in America” and referred to Porco as “the Sicilian father that I never had” (although Italian-born, the club owner actually hailed from a different part of that country).
To get an idea of Porco’s cultural importance, watch this trailer for Positively Porco, a documentary by his grandson Bob Porco:
Folk City’s Mike Porco 100th Birthday Anniversary Concert takes place tonight, October 23, at 7:30pm, at the Towne Crier in Beacon, New York. Tickets are $10. For reservations and more information, call (845) 855-1300 or visit http://www.townecrier.com/.