Wednesday, January 27, 2010

B.R. turns 80 ... (old post but interesting ...

featured in NEW YORK PRESS,

JUNE 5-11, 2002

written by Jim Knipfel

Photos by Regina Cherry

go to ... for photos
article is posted below:
BACK in 1951, a then 29 year old Barney Rosset bought a small publishing concern on Grove St. By the end of that decade, he had firmly established himself as one of the most important and influential men, not only in American publishing, but in terms of American culture as well.He introduced American readers to Beckett, Ionesco, Harold Pinter and Jean Genet. He brought national attention to the Beats long before they were called "Beats." In 1959, he fought for and won the right to publish the long-banned Lady Chatterly's Lover. He did the same for Naked Lunch and about half of everything Henry Miller wrote. Grove's literary journal Evergreen Review (also edited by Rosset) published everyone from Jean-Paul Sartre to Terry Southern. And throughout the 60s, Rosset was even involved in the film distribution business - focusing mostly on then - shocking European, um, "art" films like I Am Curious(Yellow). He was an iconoclast from the start - but he wasn't simply out to shock and disturb people (though he often did). Things that people found shocking at the time were things he recognized as valuable, important and honest works of art - and the passage of time has proven him right.

Rosset has long since sold Grove and moved on to other publishing ventures. These days, he's still editing Evergreen Review Online (, and remains a tireless crusader for First Amendment and free speech issues.

Well, Rosset turned 80 last week, and so a few friends decided to hold a little get-together in his honor at an enormous loft overlooking the intersection of Broadway and Bleecker St.

Not being someone who frequents parties of any kind, I'm afraid I can't very well provide a laundry list of all the luminaries in attendance. The overcrowded room still had that luminary - rich feel about it, though - no denying that. There was a fellow who looked like Norman Mailer but wasn't, and another who looked like George Plimpton and probably was. Photographer Arne Svenson was there, as was John Oakes, of Four Walls Eight Windows. Matt Dillon was there, too, looking mildly uncomfortable. There was some question as to why, exactly, Matt Dillon might be there, until I remembered his Burroughs connection-as well as the fact that he recently recorded an unabridged audio version of On the Road. With only a few exceptions, most everyone in the room seemed close to Rosset, age-wise.

Morgan and I and our friend Gary were there because we are all currently involved in the upcoming DVD release of Quiet Days in Clichy - a 1970 Dutch film (which Rosset had distributed in the States) based on a Henry Miller novel (which Rosset had published). We were going to be filming an interview with Rosset for the DVD a week later, and this was to be our official first introduction.

We worked our way through the crowd to where Rosset stood in the corner, greeting a seemingly endless line of well-wishers. He's a small man, bespectacled, with a great shock of white hair and an enormous - yet still impish-smile. He still seemed to have an awful lot of energy for a man who was turning 80.

Gary introduced us all, explaining who we were and why we were there. "Ahh," Rosset said as he shook our hands, "I've been thinking about this, and it put my whole life into perspective." You could tell from his eyes that he was about to launch into a story. Rosset, along with everything else, is famous for his stories. "The year was 1970," he began. "Fresno, California..." Unfortunately, before he had a chance to continue any further, someone stepped between us, grabbed Rosset's hand and began talking about something else.

The three of us worked our way back through the crowd and took a seat on what turned out to be the world's most comfortable sofa. Then we stayed there a while, wondering if we'd ever find out what happened to Barney Rosset in Fresno, CA, in 1970.

---Jim Knipfel

Monday, January 18, 2010

don’t forget: Ink ‘n Coffee Writers Workshop January 23! Register Now!

don’t forget: Ink ‘n Coffee Writers Workshop January 23! Register Now!

just a tidbit of useless knowledge, but it may be of interest of writers in Michigan: Judith Guest (Ordinary People) is the great-niece of Edgar A. Guest, who was at one time the Poet Laureate of Michigan and who wrote a poem a day for the Detroit Free Press for forty years.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to perform at Big Top next summer

Big Top Announces First Show of the Year

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will perform a pair of concerts at Bayfield’s canvas jewel Big Top Chautauqua on July 17th and 18th. Both 7:30pm performances will be recorded by the band for a possible “Live from Big Top” album. Tickets for either the Saturday or Sunday shows are $48/$40/$32.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band formed in Southern California during the spring of 1966 as a scruffy, young jug band. Forty‐two years later, the quartet (Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Bob Carpenter and John McEuen) is still going strong.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s self‐titled debut album, released in 1967, included the pop hit “Buy For Me The Rain.” But it was their 5th record, 1970’s Uncle Charlie and His Dog Teddy, that would become the band’s breakthrough project, yielding 3 pop hits including their version of Jerry Jeff Walker's “Mr. Bojangles.” Among the many outstanding tracks on Uncle Charlie was a version of Earl Scruggs’ “Randy Lynn Rag.” That cut set into motion what would become the Will the Circle be Unbroken album, a veritable summit of talent which included NDGB’s heroes: Scruggs, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Roy Acuff and Mother Maybelle Carter. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Circle... album, a three‐LP set, recorded live in the studio in Nashville over six days in 1971, became a landmark event and a multi‐platinum success. Circle remains such a significant effort, that 30 years later it was one of 50 recordings to be honored and preserved by the Library of Congress.

In the early 80’s, after a few more pop hits, the band returned to Nashville once again and began what would become a highly successful career in mainstream country music. Hits that included “Dance Little Jean,” "Workin' Man", "Long Hard Road", “Baby's Got A Hold On Me” and “Fishin' in the Dark” put them at the top of the country charts for over a decade. In 1989, the group revisited the Circle concept, gathering another impressive roster of performers (including Johnny Cash, EmmyLou Harris, Levon Helm, Chet Atkins, Bruce Hornsby, John Hiatt and Roseanne Cash) for sessions that had a pronounced country‐gospel feel. Circle II would go on to win three Grammy Awards and the Country Music Association Album of the Year. In 2002 Circle III (with many current artists added to the previous cast) received similar accolades and attention, garnering the International Bluegrass Music Association Recorded Event of the Year award as well as leading to a 2005 Grammy for Country Instrumental Performance (with Earl Scruggs, Randy Scruggs, Jerry Douglas and the late Vassar Clements).

With a career that spans five decades, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has gone from a hippie jug‐band to pioneers of country rock, and their influence is still being felt today.

Information, schedules and ticket prices are available at or by calling 888-BIG-TENT (888–244-8368).