Autosalvage and the New York Scene: Greenwich Village, 1966-68

by Tom Danaher on March 1, 2013

Earliest Days: All seemed loosely centered for me around chance meetings at The Folklore Center, which then became Marc Silber’s Fretted Instruments at 6th Ave. at 3rd St. Expanding some, most of this story happens between 7th Ave. S.—our eventual rehearsal space—and Rick’s loft at the east end of Bleecker St. near our 1st space at Bleecker and Crosby St. Our meetings and wanderings—with the exceptions of slightly dangerous forays east, or to Little Italy and Chinatown—seldom went beyond 14th St. to the north and Houston St. to the south. Less than a mile in each direction this was The Village.

Our friends Geof and Patricia [see time line info] and I often walked this east-west, W. 3rd St. route, and so by ‘open to street’ club, the Village Music Hall. The house band there included Geof’s friend Skip on guitar; Skip’s brother Steve, bass; and Joe Butler, drums. Open to strange things, Skip went with the idea of a new band. (Spoonful founder, John Sebastian tapped Steve and Joe). Shortly after, Rick and I met again by chance, and Skip brought in Darius. Voila! Autosalvage. As I remember, here’s sort of how it was…

Folk and Rock: Folk oriented musicians, like Rick and myself, had already had exposure and experience—e.g., Newport Folk Festivals—to black musicians with electric instruments (Chambers Brothers; Staples Singers; Lightning Hopkins; Wolf). Add in Country and Western and 1950s rock and roll….and folkies had an uneasy choice: electric or no, and to what degree. Autosalvage—although utilizing ‘acoustic’ instruments—exemplified an all-out commitment to exploring electric. Knowing each other from Cambridge days, 1964, guitar guys Rick and I (by love and necessity, repairmen) were already into electric guitars as projects, collectables, whatever…guitars were cool, and it all paid the rent.
To our chance meeting on Bleeker St. came this shared history and familiarity. ‘Going electric’ seemed to make the whole Autosalvage project with Skip and Darius another cool thing.

“ Gimme Some of that Rock and Roll Music:” Never exactly a folkie, Skip was always about ‘plain ole rock and roll’. From early days in Nashville around Chet Adkins; Everlys; even Elvis, [check w/ skip on more context …details] came his seamless progression into Beatle influences (Hofner bass) blending that personal history into the Autosalvage originals.

Bass and Drums: Out of The High School of Music and Arts, Darius was recruited to Autosalvage by Skip. Dari was recommend by Skip’s guitar student, a childhood friend from “The Land,” an upstate artist’s community which included the likes of John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Dari’s father, LaNoue Davenport. It was LaNoue who then arranged our strings and played ….

“Psychedelic” as a musical genre seemed to appear somewhat later. In interview w/ Crawdaddy #14??, Skip and I refer to our style as Rock and Roll—no irony intended—just what we thought was a natural progression in what has been now shortened to ‘Rock.’

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