The Gaslight Cafe

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The Gaslight Cafe
Location 116 MacDougal Street
New York City, New York
United States
Coordinates 40°43′47.01″N 74°0′1.93″W / 40.7297250°N 74.0005361°W / 40.7297250; -74.0005361Coordinates: 40°43′47.01″N 74°0′1.93″W / 40.7297250°N 74.0005361°W / 40.7297250; -74.0005361
Owner John Mitchell
John Moyant
Sam Hood
Ed Simon
Type Coffeehouse
Genre(s) Folk music, et al.
Opened 1958
Closed 1971

The Gaslight Cafe was a coffeehouse in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York. Also known as The Village Gaslight, it opened in 1958 and became notable as a venue for folk music and other musical acts.[1][2] It closed in 1971.


The Gaslight was originally a "basket house" where unpaid performers would pass around a basket at the end of each set and hope to be paid. Opened in 1958 by John Mitchell, the Gaslight showcased beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso but later became a folk-music club. John Moyant bought the club in 1961, and his father in law Clarence Hood and his son Sam managed the club through the late 1960s. Ed Simon, the owner of The Four Winds, reopened the Gaslight in 1968. The club was run by Betty Smyth, mother of Scandal lead singer Patty Smyth, and blues guitarist/performer Susan Martin until it closed in 1971.[3][4]

Folk musician and actor Gil Robbins worked as the club's manager in the late 1960s.[5][6]

The club was next door and down the stairs from the street-level bar, the Kettle of Fish, where many performers hung out between sets. Some nights the Kettle of Fish was "locked" down to the public because a young "reclusive" singer and poet was in attendance...Bob Dylan.[7] Also next door was the Folklore Center, a bookstore/record store owned by Izzy Young and notable for being a musicians' gathering place and center of the New York folk-music scene. Live at The Gaslight 1962 (2005), a single CD release including ten songs from early Dylan performances at the club, was released by Columbia Records.

In the Folk Music Encyclopedia,[page needed] Kristin Baggelaar and Donald Milton wrote "The Gaslight was weird then because there were air shafts up to the apartments and the windows of the Gaslight would open into the air shafts, so when people would applaud, the neighbors would get disturbed and call the police. So then the audience couldn't applaud; they had to snap their fingers instead."

Brian Fallon, lead singer and guitarist of The Gaslight Anthem has explained in several interviews[citation needed] that the band's name came from The Gaslight Cafe as he had heard it was one of the first places that Bob Dylan had played and liked the sound of the word and the imagery it brought about.

Currently, a full length motion picture screenplay called "116 MacDougal" is being written by Vincent J Restauri about John Mitchell and the founding of The Gaslight Cafe and the beginning of the counter culture movement.

Notable performers[edit]

Among those who performed at the Gaslight were Bill Cosby; Bob Dylan;[8] Luke Faust, a five-string banjo player and singer who sang Appalachian ballads; Len Chandler; Paul Clayton; Luke Askew; Wavy Gravy; and in 1972, Bruce Springsteen. 1964–1966 saw many early performances by Richie Havens, Jose Feliciano, Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, Eric Andersen, John Herald,[8] Ralph Rinzler,[8] The Greenbriar Boys, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Carolyn Hester, and Dave Van Ronk. The first public "electric" appearance of The Blues Project (with Danny Kalb) took place at the club. Mississippi John Hurt and Jesse Fuller ("Lone Cat") played there. Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton sat in together [9] for a week at the Gaslight with John Hammond, Jr.[10] An array of musicians also performed at the club in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Odetta, Son House, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Bonnie Raitt, Reverend Gary Davis, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Big Mama Thornton, Link Wray, Mimi Fariña, jazz musician Charles Mingus, Happy Traum and Artie Traum, Doug Kershaw, Bob Neuwirth, David Bromberg, David Buskin, Janis Siegel (who later joined The Manhattan Transfer), and others.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ the Gaslight, memoir, Al AronowitzRetrieved June 25, 2010
  2. ^ Bob Dylans roots. Accessed March 30, 2010.
  3. ^ historical memoir by Al AronowitzRetrieved June 25, 2010
  4. ^ Gaslight Cafe history. Accessed March 30, 2010.
  5. ^ Thursby, Keith (2011-04-11). "Gil Robbins dies at 80; member of the 1960s folk group the Highwaymen". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  6. ^ "Folk singer Gil Robbins dies at 80". CBC News. 2011-04-11. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  7. ^ Gaslight Cafe and Kettle of Fish. Accessed March 30, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c "Early Bob Dylan: Classic Photographs from the 1960s". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2010-08-03. Retrieved 2014-04-28. Bob Dylan stands between Ralph Rinzler and John Herald of the folk and bluegrass group the Greenbriar Boys at the Gaslight nightclub in New York City, 1959. 
  9. ^ Forman, Bill (January 28, 2010). "Tangled up in blues: John Hammond recalls his meetings with Clapton, Hendrix, Dylan and Waits". Colorado Springs Independent
  10. ^ interview with Randy CaliforniaRetrieved June 25, 2010
  11. ^ Fallon, Brian. Tumblr  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation

External links[edit]