I frequented a Charles Street Coffehouse in the sixties that opened around noon with a limited menu of well-prepared French cuisine. I could afford to order coffee there; lunch was beyond my means. The owner fancied her coffeehouse as an intellectual salon, a beautiful lunch spot in the day, and a folk music venue in the evening. So a lunch discussion group was formed centered around social and popular affairs. It was a cosmopolitan atmosphere and a wonderful place to spend an hour in conversation.
Your prayer practice was the only thing not in the circle of critique. Instead, fleet wit, incandescent thought, and clever turns of phrase were our realm for thought.
I was a high school dropout guitar-playing Folkie and mostly watched others verbally fence. I intended to nurse my coffee through the lunch hour. Then, one day the issue of the folk music revival came up. Folk music was a topic I could not avoid; there’d be no sitting in the back going unnoticed. From the kitchen emerged Paul – souffle chef by day and master guitarist in the Charles Street and Cambridge Coffeehouses by night. At issue was the “folkiness” of the music performed by many young folk musicians. Many, myself included, sang about things about which we had no direct knowledge. I did blues in a soulful tone and certainly had no experience running around with multiple women ( no matter how much I might wish it were true).
When asked about this, I replied as I had heard others; that I kept the tradition alive, and the universality of the music spoke to a broad audience.
Paul saved me from further embarrassment by bringing out his guitar. Then, as he always seemed to do, he moved to the small stage and took over his audience. He began with a Bach fugue but soon transitioned to Scott Joplin. His commentary was that Joplin had desired to become a classical composer but had become one of the most influential performers and creators of music, which helped create jazz and influenced folk styles. Of course, there were particular genres of music, but over the centuries, they all influenced one another. that was all he had to say. Still, over the remainder of the hour, his guitar playing wandered seamlessly from Jango Rheinhart to Thelonious Monk, to Scarlatti and back to back and Joplin.
There were many lunch hour get-togethers, but that one will always stick in my memory.

One Reply to “Lunch”

  1. That would have stayed with me as well Lou. Someone who could play like that would have me mesmerised, putting my guitar playing to shame. Thanks for joining in 🙂 🙂

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