Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

by Jim Testa

Peter Stampfel has been an avatar of underground music since before there was an underground, going back to the formation of the Holy Modal Rounders in the Sixties. But at age 76, he continues to be a relentless rock 'n' roll machine, finding new collaborations and releasing new music at a pace that would exhaust a musician one-fourth his age.

You can make the argument that the Rounders (and their Lower East Side compadres, The Fugs) not only invented freak folk (and possibly psychedelia) but punk rock itself; it's not that far a leap from Stampfel's scratchy fiddle and Weber's warbly vocals to the Velvet Underground, and from there to the Dolls and the Ramones.

You can read about the Holy Modal Rounders here and there's a terrific interview by Robert Christgau about Stampfel's home life on the L.E.S.
here. But when we got a chance to sit down with Stampfel at his Soho co-op, we wanted to talk about his more recent ventures, starting with his latest album Better Than Expected, by Peter Stampfel & The Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan Banjo Squadron (on Don Giovanni Records.)

Of course, a conversation with Peter Stampfel might start with a specific topic, but quickly expands into a loquacious, informative treatise about the history of pop music, the intricacies of musical theory, famous personalities, or wherever Stampfel's neverending memories take him. So we've broken this interview up into several parts to make it easier to read. At the end of the interview, we've compiled a discography of records that Peter's completed since he turned 70; there are 11 of them, and counting!

Part One: The Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan Banjo Squadron, and the history of the banjo in American popular music

Part Two: Talkin' New York City Blues and Have Moicy!

Part Three: The Bottle Caps, Jeffrey Lewis, Lou Reed, and Bob Dylan

Part Four: His Legacy, and Discography (from age 70 to tomorrow)



back to l back to top is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

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