Tel: (01) 7671786

Mon → Sat : 6am-10pm

Email: [email protected]






Say Wha? – The Trivial Traveler

New York’s Ci ty’s famously Bohemian neighborhood of Greenwich Village probably won’t top the list of things to see for a first time visitor to the Big Apple, but it shouldn’t be too far down the list either. Home to a plethora of quirky eateries, funky little shops, and some extraordinarily quaint public houses (i.e. pubs), ‘the Village’ is a feast for the senses – and the pocketbook. It’s the antithesis of Midtown. It’s a place where skyscrapers give way to six-story walk-ups, where the predictable grid pattern of streets and avenues disappears into a haphazard maze of narrow lanes and alleyways, where the hotshot business types are replaced with starving artists and the occasional whiff of pot.

The cultural impact of the Village cannot be overstated. It was the birthplace of the 1950s beat movement, the 1960s counterculture, and the more recent struggle for LGBT rights. It’s the setting for Sex and the City, Barney Miller, and Friends. It’s home to New York University, Washington Square Park, and Café Wha?

“Wha?” you say? Yup, and that question mark isn’t a typo. It’s actually in the name of the place (as in ‘huh?’ or ‘eh?’), and for those of us who like to listen to the Rock and Roll, this hole-in-the-wall at the corner of MacDougal Street & Minetta Lane is sacred ground. Like Liverpool’s Cavern Club, Café Wha? has played host to more than its share of up-and-coming Pop and Rock superstars, and in many cases, it’s the gig where they were originally ‘discovered’.

If you had wandered into Café Wha? in the 1960’s, you might well have have walked in on a performance by Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, led by singer/guitarist Jimi Hendrix. You might have seen Bruce Springsteen with his first band, the Castilles. Heck, you might even have caught a comedy set by the likes of Woody Allen or Richard Pryor, then unknown to most of the world. Even the club’s employees could be stars in the making – Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul & Mary) once waited tables there and the club owner, Manny Roth, was the uncle of Van Halen’s ‘Diamond’ David Lee Roth.

The venue’s biggest contribution to the American music scene came about in January 1961, when a 19-year-old wannabe folk singer walked in carrying a guitar case. Fresh off the bus from Minnesota, he asked for a chance to play a few songs as it was ‘hootenanny night’, when anybody was welcome to take the stage. Introducing himself as Bob Dylan, he covered a few Woody Guthrie tunes and was an immediate hit. Then, at the end of his set, he asked the appreciative audience if anyone had a couch he could crash on.

Today, Café Wha? remains a cornerstone of the Village music scene, looking much as it did fifty years ago. And while Dylan doesn’t stop by much anymore, it’s not unusual for celebrity musicians to be seen sitting in with the house band. Sure, there might be a nominal cover charge, but everything in New York comes at a price. And they don’t serve booze at the Statue of Liberty, now do they?


Wha? Ya!

The post Say Wha? appeared first on The Trivial Traveler.

Source link