Album Reviews

Izzy Young

Talking Folklore Center

Artist:     Izzy Young

Album:     Talking Folklore Center

Label:     Gazell Records

Release Date:     08/14/2015


This DVD is a recent release of a docu-film originally recorded by a Swedish crew back in the mists of the late 1980s. As such, it has loads of evocative, grainy black and white imagery and a delightful, now near-historic feel to it. The same can’t, thankfully perhaps, be said of its octogenarian subject, who remains a purposeful figure in the world of folk music, dance and life from his current base in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, where he relocated from New York City in the ’70s.

Not many can boast that Bob Dylan wrote a song about them – but Izzy– Israel– Young has indeed been honored by the man in a previously unrecorded number “Talking Folklore Center,” here performed and recorded for the first time by Eric Bibb.

Young’s immersion in all things folk goes back a long way to his opening the first “Folklore Center” in New York’s Greenwich Village in the late 1950s, where he worked and played joyfully alongside the likes of Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, Happy Traum and virtually every significant music figure of that generation as they honed their chops and passed through the city. Figures lending support to this guy’s seminal influence on the embryonic US folk-music scene include beat-poet Allen Ginsberg, The Fugs, Pete Seeger and even NYC’s mayor, Ed Koch, all of whom crop-up here alongside Izzy as he makes a return visit to many of his Village haunts and chats about his life, times and the changing Village scene with appealing candor and humility.

Ultimately, we are all guilty of using expressions such as “living legend” or “national treasure” almost as throw-away lines these days. But if anyone genuinely deserves the accolade, it surely must be this soft-spoken Brooklyn boy, Izzy Young.

– Iain Patience

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