Alas, the Folklore Center didn't last but a few years but it also had a really, really cool little concert club in back where we had concerts by some of the biggies in the folk music world at the time, people like Roy Bookbinder, Eric Schoenberg, Guy Van Duser & Billy Novik, Joe Val & the New England Bluegrass Boys, Bill Staines and many others. It was in a large space that was unheated except for a huge pot-belly stove, that had the disturbing habit of starting to huff and puff and rattle ominously when it heated up. I remember one night watching Guy Van Duser (and amazing guitarist!) do his entire set while wearing fingerless rag wool gloves on both hands.
There were a few rooms upstairs, which served as very rough sleeping quarters for performers when needed, and one was used as an apartment for my friend Joe Deetz, who is a very, very fine banjo player- he spent time touring with some of the greats and did some recording later on - and also did instrument repair.
Dick Pleasants is the one the most appropriately named people I've ever met. He is universally loved and respected after moving on to host a folk music show on Boston Public Radio station WGBH and promoting concerts and a summer music camp in New Hampshire - all the while helping many, many musicians follow their dreams. But to me the most remarkable thing about Dick is his love and knowledge of folk music in all its forms. He is far and away the most knowledgeable non-musician I have ever met. I remember going to his house in East Falmouth where he had a small recording studio back in the 1970s and being flabbergasted by the walls of record albums, numbering well into the thousands - and Dick had listened to and knew them all.
What also amazed me was his lack of pretense and his sincere interest in all forms of folk music, from bluegrass and old-timey, to blues and contemporary singer/songwriter, to British Isles music, plus what we now call world music. This is a rare thing indeed - some of the most uptight and prejudiced (musically speaking) musicians I've ever met were in the folk music world but Dick listened to it all and while I'm sure he likes some forms better than others, he gives everything a chance. I wish I had that talent.....
Dick is now suffering from early stages of Parkinson's Disease and needs a cane to walk. But reading an interview with him in the Globe a couple weeks ago I was again impressed with his outlook, and through it all his love of the music came through. The review of the concert listed and described the performances of some of the greats of folk and singer/songwriter music who were there to pay tribute to this man who had helped many of them at early stages of their careers and later became their friend.
I lost contact with Dick over the years between the late 70s and now but would occasionally call him at the station and I was always interested in reading about him. And of course I listened to him on 'GBH and later on WUMB. His calm, warm voice and gentle demeanor always comes through.
So here's to Dick Pleasants, a true gentleman and a music lover who has done more for music and musicians that any of us will ever know.
Peace & good music,