Urban Campfire Coming to Le Poisson Rouge on November 17

Words by Corinne Casella

Photo: Mark Dershowitz

Guitar Mash is hosting its 8th annual NYC Urban Campfire this Sunday November 17th. This year the always popular event has moved locations to its new home at Le Poisson Rouge. We had a chance to speak with founder Rebecca Weller about the organization’s new direction.

Talk to us about the transition from City Winery.

RW: It’s always fun to mix things up, and I’ll be curious to see if and how the new context — Le Poisson Rouge — changes the vibe of the show. The transition hasn’t effected us organizationally — we’re still booking great artists, transcribing great songs and selling lots of tickets!

What about (le) Poisson Rouge excites you for this new chapter?

RW: It’s been exciting to plan for the show at Le Poisson Rouge, which has a more industrial feel. It’s got a classic New York club feeling and it’s where the old Village Gate used to be, where I remember hearing jazz growing up (I’ve also seen some truly special shows at LPR as an adult, including an intimate night with Beck).

Among the new logistics that I’m curious and excited about is the location of the screens, which are right on stage — at City Winery they flanked the stage. On Sunday the audience will be able to look directly towards the artists rather than off to the sides of the room to follow the charts that we project.

The artists this year seem to be slightly leaning towards fresh and emerging voices. Is this done in part to inspire a new generation?

RW: Absolutely. I think that some people associate the play-along/sing-along genre as old-fashioned, when people like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger were in their prime. We take inspiration from these guys, but believe the impetus to make music exists and will always exist in every one of us — doesn’t matter our age — and that artists of any age from any genre or background can use the Urban Campfire method to tell their story in a unique and compelling way. Showcasing emerging artists helps to broaden our play list (Amythyst Kiah is leading a song by Adele, Sammy Brue’s leading one by Blind Melon) and does inspire the teens in the audience to reach for something that may be closer than they think.

What artist are you most excited to see? Why?

RW: Really hard to say! Often it’s the sleepers on the bill that end up thrilling the most, though. I’ll single out Amythyst because no one knew her when we did our Nashville show in May and she delivered one of the most powerful songs of the afternoon “Jolene.” I’m excited to introduce her to our NY audience — she’s skyrocketing, up for awards for her “Songs of Our Native Daughters” project with Rhiannon Giddens, and opening for Yola on her tour this spring. Oh but then I’m so looking forward to the legends on our bill, Dion and John Sebastian. We don’t usually have our featured artists sing their own songs but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have John lead “Do You Believe in Magic” and Dion lead “The Wanderer.” That’ll be a thrill, to see the audience excited to be singing along these Top of the Billboard Charts songs with the guys who created them.

How did the current political climate effect your choice song list choices?

RW: We worked with our teen co-chairs to choose a song for the Guitar Mash Teens presentation and everyone felt strongly that it should be related to the climate crisis. So they’re mashing “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” with “Big Yellow Taxi” – Joni meets Marvin!

This year’s event features Dion, Amythyst Kiah, Sammy Brue, Tash Neal, John Sebastian and more. Tickets are available here!

About Urban Campfire:
The Urban Campfire is an immersive participatory concert unlike any other that blurs the lines between artist and audience. Join renowned guitarists and singer-songwriters as they take the stage to share the songs and stories that shaped them.

No guitar? No problem – bring yourself, and sing along.


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