Art and Paul
Radio: Bill Wence
Art and Paul (Art Podell and Paul Potash) were a highly regarded Greenwich Village folk duo circa 1959-1961 who recorded two albums for Columbia -- "Songs of Earth and Sky" in 1960 and "Hangin', Drinkin, and Stuff" in 1961. Bruce Eder has referred to the first album as a lost classicwith an avid cult following -- which is no exaggeration.
Here's some background on Art and Paul:
During their years in the Village (usually playing Cafe Wha!), Art and Paul attracted attention (and landed the recording contract with Columbia Records) with their creative arrangements of classic folk songs, which had a defining theatrical flair and occasional splashes of humor. They were good friends with a number of notable folkies back then, including Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey. In fact, when Peter and Noel were mulling over the idea of adding a voice to their duo, Art remembers writing "Mary Travers" on a napkin and passing it across the table to them. Shortly
before that happened, Yarrow had given Art and Paul a song for their act that he had just written -- "Puff, the Magic Dragon." One of their performances was recorded in a 1961 college concert in Boulder, Colorado by a local radio station -- well over a year before Peter, Paul and Mary recorded their version. (The recording later surfaced on a number of anthologies released by the old Horizon label, initially on "Hollywood Hootenanny", which is currently available online for download.) As a quick aside, one of their most avid fans in Colorado back then was a young David Crosby.)
Before they left Columbia, Mitch Miller was trying to put them on the charts and brought them a song that he felt had hit potential. Art and Paul were purists back them -- ironic given their subsequent involvement with the Minstrels -- and they turned it down. That song was "Sealed with a Kiss." Columbia ended up giving the song to a pop quartet called the Four Voices. The arrangement used by the quartet was quite unusual for them, undoubtedly because it had been created with "Art and Paul" in mind. Looking back, it would have been a great track fort them. Such is hindsight.
Art and Paul broke up towards the end of 1961, after relocating to Southern California. Initially, Art focused on session work and songwriting (with songs recorded by Glenn Yarbrough, Rod McKuen, the Smothers Brothers and others); Paul aspired to become an actor. In late winter of 1962, Art joined the charter line up of the New Christy Minstrels and became one of the key creative forces during the group's peak years as an arranger, musician and writer (along with founder Randy Sparks and the late Nick Woods.) Two years later, Paul joined the Christies as well, replacing Gene Clark in March 1964 -- creating an Art and Paul reunion of sorts within the larger ensemble.
Who were Art and Paul?
• Art and Paul (Art Podell and Paul Potash) were an early sixties (1960-61) Greenwich Village duo who took a creative, theatrical approach to folk music that influenced many who came after them.
Where were Art and Paul’s biggest audiences?
• Café Wha? in Greenwich Village
• Boulder, Colorado (Art and Paul’s records outsold The Kingston Trio’s records in Boulder in 1961
• Los Angeles (first folk music act at The Troubadour)
Who were their friends and contemporaries?
• Peter Yarrow and Noel Stookey (before PP&M) – it’s rumored that Art introduced Peter to Mary
• Tom and Dick Smothers (Art wrote several songs for them)
• David Crosby was one of their biggest fans in Denver as a young man
• Peter Yarrow gave Art and Paul his song “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” to sing. A bootleg recording of them singing it in concert almost two years before the PP&M recording was eventually released on Horizon Records.
• Art and Paul’s first guitarist was Dick Rosmini, recognized as a pioneer instrumentalist of the folk era and previously Bob Gibson’s primary accompanist.
• Mitch Miller brought the song “Sealed with a Kiss” to Art and Paul but they rejected it because it was not a true folk song.
What has been said about Art and Paul?
• Bruce Eder of Allmusic.com has called “Songs of Earth and Sky” a lost classic.
• Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer said that Art and Paul were
major influences on his musical vision for Manhattan Transfer
AND THEIR FRIENDS SAY...
“The music on these albums, with their extraordinarily beautiful harmonies... both informed and inspired Peter, Paul and Mary. When you listen, you are listening
to history, and an important part of the birth of the 1960s Folk
Renaissance.”-- Peter Yarrow
“Art & Paul...Greenwich Village stalwarts at the Cafe Wha. It is a memorable and valuable part of my performing history to have shared the stage with them in
those early days of the folk music revival.”-- Noel Paul Stookey
“Art & Paul were brilliant... theatrical. Their arrangements were innovative and
-- Tracy Newman, Emmy Award winning TV writer/producer, singer/songwriter
“Art & Paul forged the template for many folk duos that followed... I was honored to be in such company that defined ‘the ‘60s.’”-- Van Dyke Parks
“I first played the Troubadour in 1961... I saw the greats there -- and Art & Paul were part of that...experience!”-- Mason Williams, singer/songwriter
RECOMMENDED TRACKS FOR AIRPLAY
Songs of Earth and Sky
• Track 1 – All the Pretty Little Horses (lullaby in delicate harmony)
• Track 4 – Viva Jujuy (rhythmic song in Spanish celebrating Jujuy Province in Argentina)
• Track 5 – Wish I Didn’t Miss Her So (simple love song)
• Track 6 – Pick a Bale o’Cotton (Upbeat version of a work song from the slave South)
• Track 8 – There’s a Hole in the Bucket, Mariah (pure comedy from Art and Paul – one of Noel Stookey’s favorite Art and Paul performances)
Hangin’, Drinkin’ and Stuff
• Track 16 – Song of Time (pulsing poetic with Gloria Augostino on classical harp)
• Track 24 – Tres Moricas (in Spanish, the lyric tale of three loves features Art’s classical
• Track 22 – My Favorite Things - (Sound of Music – Theodore Bikel’s favorite version of
• Track 18 – Moonshiner (a powerful rendition of an Appalachian classic)
See more music by Art Podell here: http://www.radiosubmit.com/rs/artpodell/