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Excerpted from Chapter 29. of the book, "The Code"

Stepping Up In the World



On Monday, September 12th, we went to see Milt Oken at his office at around 3:00 PM.  Milt and Tom and I talked at length and discussed recording possibilities and later went to meet Mary Travers for coffee.  Milt went back to the office after a while, and Tom and Mary and I sat and talked for a couple more hours.  Later we went with Dwaine Story to the Gaslight Cafe on McDougall Street where we saw Charles O'Hagerty and Jack Elliot. 


On Tuesday, Sept 13th, Tom and I went to Milt's office again for some talk and to play some songs.  Later we took Carolyn Hester to dinner at an Italian restaurant.  After that I did a guest set at the Bitter End Hoot, and then went to the Gaslight where I had the chance to do another set.  Got a pretty good response in each place, did an encore at the Bitter End.  Later I stayed up and wrote a sixteen-page letter to Chris. 


On Wednesday the 24th I met with Milt and Mary Travers at Milt's office.   I played for her: Darcy Farrow, A Number and a Name, The Erl King, 2:10 Train, Sometimes in August, and Ten Thousand Times Ten.  She liked the Erl King, Sometimes In August, and Ten Thousand Times Ten. 


Later I went to the gaslight to see Doc Watson.  I had a few drinks with Kin Vassey, David Jackson, Peter Elbling, and Tracy Newman at the Kettle of Fish upstairs from the Gaslight. 


On Thursday, September 15th, I went to the Eastside terminal to see Tom off.  Then I went to the Bank of America to cash my check from Philadelphia.  Later I did a short guest set at the Bitter End.  I stayed around to hear the show.  It was Jake Holmes, I was to hear him many times at the Bitter End, and I enjoyed what he was doing.  Met Bruce Farwell and Eric Weisberg that night too.  Paid my bill at the Hotel Albert, $60. 


On Thursday, September 22nd, I paid the hotel bill again $33.10.  (I got a weekly rate.)  Paid it again on the 29th, On October 6, the 13th, the 20th, the 27th,  November 3rd, the 11th, the 17th, the 24th, which was Thanksgiving Day, December 1st, and 8th, .  


On Friday, October 7, I went to Peter, Paul and Mary's concert at the Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, and then to the private party at L'Etoile in the Sherry Netherland Hotel on 5th avenue. I wrote home:


       I'm sorry to have been so silent.  A great deal has been happening and I've been sort of holding my breath.

       Like tonight, for instance, I was Peter, Paul and Mary's guest at their concert in the beautiful new Philharmonic building at Lincoln Center.   Right up front in the orchestra section.  Then I was invited to a private party for which occasion they had taken over the L'Etoile, (a very plush, exclusive night spot.) In the Sherry Netherland Hotel on 5th Avenue.

       Many exciting people were there, Albert Grossman (who manages P.P.&M, Bob Dylan, Odetta, Ian & Sylvia and others)   Jeff will be interested, Zal Yanoffski (of the Lovin' Spoonful,) was also there.  He's a good friend of Judy Henske's also and we stood in the buffet line together and did Judy Henske bits.  Then there was Sal Mineo, and David Suskind, and lots of others.  I didn't know many of them, but Mary made me feel welcome, also said she liked some of our songs and invited me to come to one of their rehearsals next week to play for Peter and Paul. 

       Things are very encouraging here.  My audition with John Hammond at Columbia went, I think, very well, and Milt said that the people at Vanguard sound as if they would like to record me, so I have reason to hope it will be one of these, my two first choices. 

       I have signed an exclusive writing contract with Cherry Lane Music Co. (Milt's publishing co.) Which is a good thing.  He also has Tom Paxton, Eric Anderson, and John Denver.  If you saw P.P.&M. On the Roger Miller Show the other night, the second song they sang called "For Baby," was John's.  I watched the show with him at his hotel and it was very exciting. 

       I'm hoping to line up some work in Boston, Montreal, Toronto, and go then to Rochester.  It will be a while, though, I might go visit Ian and Sylvia for a while.  Anyway I will write to Grandma Babe and Grandma Louise.  I hope all is well and everyone is happy.  Write to me. 

       Please send me my mail from ASCAP and those copyrights for "A Number and a Name" and any others in the big blue book.  (There should be about 15)

       Anyway, love to all, Steve



On November 23rd I celebrated my 24th Birthday. 


On November 28, I wrote:


Dear Family,

       So good to talk to you on the phone.  Also thanks (late, of course) for my wonderful birthday party and my presents.  I've been working at the Gaslight with the Greenbriar Boys.

       I had dinner tonight with Judy Collins and several of her friends.  Then I went over to the Café au Go Go to see a little bit of the blues concert that was on tonight before going to work.  When I walked in I sat down with Izzy Young, who is the proprietor of the Folklore Center, and a friend of mine.  He was MC-ing the concert and invited me to do a set which I did, and was very well received.  Then I went to work at the Gaslight and had an exceptionally good night.  Jack Elliot, (remember Ramblin' Jack, mom, you showed me a Life Magazine article about five years ago about a guy who traveled with Woody Guthrie for several years) Anyway, Jack has played the Golden Bear and the Paradox and is an old friend of Tom's and mine.  He did a guest set (played my guitar, which he couldn't stop praising.)

       While I was on, Peter Yarrow (of P.P.& M.) came in with several friends.  (Milt had introduced us a couple weeks ago) He complimented me and said he liked the songs I sang.

       I've been having some publicity pictures done by a friend of mine named Mark Roth.  Carolyn Hester and several others have also been working with him at the same time, and he's taken some of us together.  I'll send you some when I can. 

       I guess this letter like all the others sounds like a Nichols and May (very very old, very very dear friend of mine) routine, but that's just the way the "village" is.  Everyone is here from time to time, and they're all good friends. 

       Milt says I can come in and play for P.P.&M. Sometime this week.  I have several new songs. I will definitely be home for Christmas.  I don't know if I'll be able to record before then or not.  I'll probably have to come right back.  I hope I can line up something so I can afford it.

       I've gotten to like New York very much, but still miss you all terribly.  Keep those cards and letters coming.

       Love to all, Stephen.



When Jack Elliot had finished his guest set at the Gaslight that night I mentioned in my letter, he gave me my guitar and sat down to have a drink and listen.  I had just started my set when Peter Yarrow and several others came in.  They sat down pretty much in the center of the small place, probably about a dozen feet away from me.  I couldn't miss seeing them, but Jack got up and came up to the tiny stage and leaned over to whisper in my ear, "Peter Yarrow just came in."  Everyone in the room could hear his whisper, so I tried to continue as if nothing had happened, not quite managing not to laugh. 


On December 5th I paid Mark Roth for some photos he took and processed for me.  He did good work, and had a real look to his photos.  He would let me know when he was going to go out and shoot and try different film and lighting effects, and I was able to get pictures of myself out of these sessions.   During those weeks in New York I saw the French film whose title translates, "The Children of Paradise."  It was about a rag-tag bunch of street kids, actors, performers, etc.  It reminded me of the little community of friends I was a part of in those days in the village. 



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