The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #14725   Message #2605370
Posted By: Bruce Markow
05-Apr-09 - 10:04 PM
Thread Name: Boston's folk music man Peter Johnson
Subject: RE: Boston's folk music man Peter Johnson
I'll revive this thread again, after nostalgia for my folk-dues days in Cambridge got me googling Peter Johnson. He was a frequent and important presence in my, and many people's, musical world during the 70's. So good to hear he is out and about. I hope this "Hello" makes it to him.

I remember Peter as a wild man with a spirit of extreme generosity and a laser focus for creating top notch, folk music events that brimmed with vitality. I'd credit his efforts as a big source of my own American-British Isles folkloric education.

Peter's energy and concerts gave wings to my projects -- to learn every instrument I could lay my hands on and perform with my newgrass band (The Astroturf String Band) and duo (The PineToppers). I internalized some of his confidence and cockiness and, as a newly emerging folkie, found my way to play Joy of Movement Center, then Passim's, then festivals, etc.

As rousing as the concerts were, and as easy as Peter made it to take for granted seeing formidable musicians from near and far, the inevitable after-show parties were where the folk process took off: we locals jamming and swapping songs with the featured artists; enthusiastic networking in the spirit of community and camaraderie.

Once I hosted an only slightly surprising (but totally exhilarating) post-concert party for Peter's birthday. Well attended by people wanting to return some love to Peter, it drew numerous homemade cakes with gushy good-wishes-laden icing. We'd done just about enough jamming... when the food fight erupted, nearly straight out of a traditional drinking song. After the icing cloud finally cleared, a line of revelers snaked from the shower through the bathroom out into the hallway.

These days I'm Brooklyn based, performing solo as a singer-songwriter, primarily using my own material (with some comping and session work that draw heavily on the era I described), but those expansive days in Peter Johnson's Cambridge are still alive in my memory as roots to be grateful for.

Thanks, Peter.

Bruce Markow