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Velocity Ramblers bring '60s psychedelia to the Warhol

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Holy shit: Velocity Ramblers
  • Holy shit: Velocity Ramblers

Young whippersnappers, with their Pitchfork ratings and their Arthur magazines, might think "psych folk" started on the day Devendra Banhart recorded his first demo. But there's real precedent from the '60s for the bucolic weirdness espoused today by the frilly-shirt-and-flowery-dress set. It emerged from a lot of drug-taking and be-ins, as well as the East Village folk scene, which just grew stranger and more eclectic as psychedelics became more intense and Vietnam dragged on.

Just ask fiddler Peter Stampfel. In 1964, with guitarist Steve Weber, Stampfel founded the Holy Modal Rounders, the first group deliberately referred to as "psycho-delic." Stampfel and Weber later joined Tuli Kupferberg in legendary folk pranksters The Fugs, then reconstituted the Rounders with drummer Sam Shepard (later a famed actor and playwright). The group stuck together in some form or another for a classic run of LPs until the late 1970s.

Yet many of the folk legends from those heady days (Fairport Convention, Incredible String Band, etc.) still exist in some form or another, so Stampfel felt the time was right to revive that hippie spirit. This led to the coagulation of the Velocity Ramblers, a supergroup which includes Shepard as well as John Cohen, from '60s comrades The New Lost City Ramblers (and also a filmmaker and photographer).

The Ramblers will relive their halcyon days at the Warhol on Fri., Nov. 16, following a screening of Bound to Lose, a bio-doc film about the Rounders' four decades. Look for celeb appearances in the flick from the likes of Dennis Hopper, Loudon Wainwright III, Wavy Gravy and members of The Monkees and The Lovin' Spoonful. And while the oldsters recall wacky times, the youngsters can derive inspiration for returning to the woods and writing primal, totemic ditties about wolves and bears and unicorns.

Velocity Ramblers. 7:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 16. The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., North Side. $12. 412-237-8300 or www.warhol.org

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