By Billy Templeton
Danny Fitzgerald is not a young man. At 80-years-old, his days of playing the washtub bass and leading a band are few and far between, but no one who watches him strut and sway on stage can deny that he still possesses the showmanship of a bona fide front man.
There are sights and sounds ubiquitous to cities that are hard to come by in a small borough like Honesdale, PA. On street corners or on subway platforms in any large city one is likely to hear the ragtag beats of street performers of varying skills playing music for small change and a chance to shine for an audience, rising above the cacophony of the everyday. But last Saturday, March 1st, Danny Fitzgerald and the Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band graced the quiet town of Honesdale, PA with a memorable performance at The Cooperage, the town’s newest community space and performing arts venue. For the evening at least, the little Main Street corner was hopping.
Fitzgerald was accompanied on stage by a group of new and old friends playing lead and rhythm guitar, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, and the washtub bass in tunes that had all 90 people in attendance bobbing and clapping, yet all eyes were fixed on the man upwards in age with the gruff voice, as he grooved and sauntered his way to and from chair to microphone. Leading many songs was guitarist Joe Flood who beckoned Fitzgerald to share the microphone and sing backup or take the lead. Between songs Flood reminisced about his own past performing on Paris street corners and the day he met the legendary Danny Fitzgerald.
As they moved into songs from their latest album, Fitzgerald shared stories about his past, his love of musicians like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, and recalled accounts of friends long gone. Like the lives many of his Blues singing peers, his story has never been officially recorded or verified but his music is his life, so every recording, every performance is a living testament to his past and life’s work. Through his bandmates, his life will be celebrated for many years to come through songs that would otherwise leave the world with him.
After the second set a tired Fitzgerald stepped off the stage, to enjoy the encore from a seat among his fans. The lights faded and he settled down a little in his chair, bobbing his head as Joe Flood and a few other band members played one last song. At 80, and having left his mark on this world, Danny Fitzgerald took pleasure in a sight—and sound—few are lucky to enjoy: seeing the fruits of his talent as the musicians inspired by him and fans delighted by his nature in celebration of his life.
Few in the crowd gathered at The Cooperage knew much about the life of Danny Fitzgerald before the show, but the intimate nature of the small-town venue and the gregarious personalities in the band gave everyone gathered together on that cold night, a little taste of the big city street corner Blues.
Billy Templeton covers stories for The River Reporter. He holds an MFA from Syracuse University and has work that has appeared in RHINO, Dark Mountain, and The Cortland Review.
“Dear President Obama, Americans Against Fracking In One Voice” – is a direct appeal to the President, and to all elected officials, to carefully consider the growing evidence that hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas is hardly the path to energy independence that many promote.
Premiering in late 2014, the film takes a cross-country look at fracking, highlighting its variety of contaminations, the stories of its victims, the false promise of an economic boom, with a focus on energy solutions that would allow us to proceed towards an energy future that does not rely on yet another dirty fossil fuel extraction process. Interviews with scientists, economists, geologists and whistle-blowers will provide the core information we hope will convince the current President and those that will follow to join the “anti-fracking” majority growing across the United States. And it will have some great music, too!
Filming began in November 2013 and will continue through the year. Please check the new site frequently as we’ll be updating it from the field with new photos, videos, interviews and testimonies.
From email newsletter
I recently had the privilege to pick up a summer issue of your magazine – It was great joy that I found when I started reading it.
My original home was on Cross Mountain Road off the Millbrook Rd., Town of Middletown – My dad was well known in the area – both in home town politics and just because he was honest, kind and all the good things that fathers should be.
One night, he reluctantly told me a story about what he’d seen about midnight coming home from a fire meeting. When I read he story on page 16 of your summer issue I was so delighted. He had certainly seen some kind of a UFO. I never knew when I should report this. He had told me never to tell anyone for they might think he was drunk. (He was a non-drunk!)
Thank you for such a(sic) great coverage. I give you permission to report this if you so choose.
New York punk trio Blockhouses and Troy lo-fi pop faves Pony in the Pancake will perform at the sixth installment of SmashCrashBash!!, a semi-regular, rock ’n’ roll-themed party at the Half Moon in Hudson, NY, on Saturday, April 5, beginning at 9pm.
Saturday, April 5 / 9pm doors / $6
The Half Moon, 48 S. Front St., Hudson, NY 12534
Imogen Holloway Gallery
Friday, March 7, 2014 • 6-9pm
This group exhibition highlights the work of seventeen artists including Matthew Magee, Henrietta Mantooth, Kari Gorden, Jack Davidson, Heather Hutchison, Douglas Culhane, Joy Taylor, Garry Nichols, Gene Benson, Brian Lynch, Meg Lipke, Robert Petersen, Charles Geiger, Bernie Reitemeyer, Keiko Sono, Pier Wright and Christina Tenaglia, and continues through Sunday, March 16th.
Last July, I started the Main Street Journal to document our one-year lease on Main Street in Liberty, NY.
Here is the first post:
I am starting a diary to document our experience in the new Green Door space located on Main Street in Liberty, NY. We opened the space to be the change we wish to see in Liberty. Our goal is to become a sustainable brick and mortar presence where we can help cultivate community and local business development. Our lease is for one year.
Two days in the space and many people are walking in and asking what this space is all about. I tell them it is a multi-use art space for the community. One person laughed and said, sarcastically, “Good luck.” People squint in the front windows looking confused.
240 days in, I still get the occasional: “Liberty? Why?” But, some have voiced cautious optimism about the future of Liberty. Brooklynites, looking to cash out of the city, have stopped by inquiring about rental prices. No takers yet, but it’s a start.
One friend said “Sullivan County is where hipsters go to die.”
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the casinos are coming. The old Grossinger’s Hotel down the road is a possible site for a casino and resort destination.
While the Liberty Theatre project has stalled and shows no signs of moving forward, the old Fleet bank building is being renovated. There is talk that it is going to be an art gallery with artist studios on the upper floors.
The Youth Economic Group (YEG) is now housed in the former Liberty Free Theatre building and has been a presence on Main Street. They recently designed and showcased an anti-fracking display in their front window.
An old Mobil gas station was torn down on Mill Street; gas tanks removed and the site cleared. This is beautification enough.
The Liberty Skate Park continues in starts and stops. I hope this amazing project is realized for the youth of Liberty and the surrounding area.
The building that housed Carlito’s Barber Shop, Kennedy Fried Chicken and the boxing club had an unfortunate fire. Carlito’s opened across the street, but the other two business have not reopened as of yet.
I am sad to see the Spankin-Kleen Launderette facade removed. After years of sitting vacant, the space has seen some recent demolition activity. Nothing to report.
There are already existing businesses who continue to give people a reason to visit Liberty. Here are some:
Town & Country
Floyd & Bobo’s
Young’s Tae Kwon Do
The Liberty Elementary School
The Cyber Shack
Sunflower Health Food Store
The Liberty Museum
Carlito’s Classic Cuts
The Liberty Public Library
Liberty Fitness Center
J & K North Main Bakery
Anthony’s Barber Shop
The Goal Post
Ideal Food Basket
James Martin will be displaying charcoal and graphite drawings and lithograph prints in the ASK Lounge Gallery throughout March. Martin seeks to create moods using the play of light and shadow on his subjects. His work ranges from realistic to abstract and from portraits and figures to still lifes of decorative and everyday objects.
The opening reception is March 1st from 5-8pm.
Kingston, NY 12401
Historically, an eponymous album title is a logical choice for a debut record. It introduces the public to a new artist.
In this case, the self-titled release suggests both a reinvention and a proclamation: here I am and here is my music.
“I tried for months to come up with a title that could sum up the album,” says Merchant. “The only thing I could come up with is that I wrote all the songs.” Her last album of original material was 2001’s Motherland.
A message from a Green Door subscriber:
I happened to see the magazine while attending a wedding at the Villa Roma last fall. Great job!! I love the Catskills and Hudson Valley, grew up in Sullivan County during it¹s heyday. I hate what has happened to it over the years but love the newenergy coming in. The Catskills thrived back then because of its sheer beauty and close proximity to NYC, it can come back if they stop looking for the silver bullet to save the day. The magic is in the land and its beauty. Keep up the good work.