As a part of the sixth annual Porch Stomp, we’ll be working with Beehive Productions, NYC Ferry, and Blue Point Brewery to bring you a series of videos featuring artists spanning the gamut of NYC folk scene (and then some). Check out our blog every month for new videos and interviews with artists, and be sure to follow us on instagram: @porchstomp and Facebook: Porch Stomp. Come see all of our artists at Porch Stomp this June 23rd on Governors Island: www.porchstomp.com
While it’s appropriate to say that the New York City folk scene has no shortage of characters, one would be hard pressed to find one as well-known or well-beloved as Sheriff Bob. Once affectionately dubbed by Chris Thile as, “everybody’s mischievous uncle”, Bob’s presence and persona (often augmented by the appropriate sheriff attire complete with badge) have a way of altering a room, exposing a side of country and bluegrass that harkens to another time; perhaps a time when songs of heartbreak seemed more real and boisterous revelry more jubilant.
I remember first entering the bluegrass scene by way of Randolph Beer on Broome Street, a place where Sheriff Bob’s Jam allowed many pickers to find a safe haven for trying out new tunes, networking with fellow aspiring artists and, of course, enjoying cheap beer thanks to their “half off for musicians” drink special. In fact, one might argue that the Porch Stomp community owes its existence to that very place; it was that jam in which Theo and I first met, thus forming a partnership is what has allowed the community to expand and subsequently flourish.
For that reason, we’re excited to feature Sheriff Bob, the Sheriff of Goodtimes, to kick off our 2019 Porch Stomp Presents series. Wielding a voice synonymous with NYC country music and dobro licks that bark, hem and haw, the Sheriff has a way of making songs all his own and surrounds himself with the finest talent the city has to offer.
Often seen as “The Sheriff and the Deputy” with Kat Minogue on guitar and harmonies, the two share an incredible kindred energy inspired by true love of the old country and honky tonk classics. Here they are performing, “Hold What Ya' Got“ with Cesar Moreno on mandolin and Larry Legend on bass, performing on a windy NYC Ferry en route from Rockaway Beach to Pier 11.
Sheriff, How long have you been living in New York and when did you discover your love of folk and country music?
Sheriff: When I was 4 years old my family moved from Chicago to New York City. As soon as I could turn a radio dial I was listening to country music. When I was a freshman at MIT I saw Pete Seger perform on campus. The very next day I went out and bought a 2nd-hand 5-string banjo and the Pete Seger instruction book. That’s when I became a folk singer.
And what about this collaboration? How did the two of you meet?
Kat: I met Sheriff Bob on a Monday night at the Baggot Inn. Greg Garing and The Sheriff had a residency there and during the show they invited everyone to the Goodtime Jam on Wednesday nights. They said everyone was welcome to come out with their instruments and play along and sing songs. I was intrigued by the communal and improvisational aspects of a jam, so I checked it out; the rest is history.
How did the Goodtime Jam start? Any favorite memories or guests that have stopped by?
Sheriff: The Goodtime Jam started in the 90’s in the East Village. We were kicked out of several places for being too loud or some nonsense, but we’ve found welcoming homes at The Baggot Inn, Grisly Pear, and now at Zinc Bar over on West 3rd Street – the same place that used to be the Baggot – where everyone is welcome to come jam and hang on the 3rd Wednesday of every month.
Over the years, well-known players have come through – Greg Garing, Chris Thile, Michael Daves, Mark O’conner, Chip Taylor, Phoebe Hunt, Mike Gordon, and Alex Hargreaves, just to name a few. There are always new players coming to the scene and that keeps it exciting. The Goodtime Jam is a place for musicians to get together and have some fun!
What are you most excited for at Porch Stomp 2019?
Sheriff: This is my first year taking part in Porch Stomp. I’m really excited to host the Goodtime Stage and jam with all the folks who come out, to meet new people and make new friends!
What are your favorite things about the NYC folk scene and what suggestions would you give for musicians looking to get involved?
Sheriff: Anyone looking to get involved in the folk scene here should check out the jams around town. There are jams just about every night of the week! That’s where you meet other musicians and can share songs and musical ideas with each other.
Kat: The NYC Folk world is a kaleidoscopic scene anchored by old songs and stories and a few chords. Many people rely on the jams – playing music with other people is a form of social engagement unlike any other. For some people it’s essential. Porch stomp is a real acknowledgment and celebration of this music and the community it provides in NYC!
For more information, visit : http://www.sheriffunclebob.com
Special thanks to Jeff, Sue and Redia of Beehive Productions and Elana of NYC Ferry for making this series happen.