Other places, according to Hermus, that are best for listening
to live folk music include almost any coffeehouse than a pub.
"I prefer the coffeehouse scene to the bar scene for acoustic music.
The Muddy Cup and Perking Latte are prime places on the Island to perform,
but there is also a surprising number of places in New Jersey, and not
too far over the bridges either. There are a number of places in Hoboken,
Van Gogh's Ear in Union, and some great places in Rahway, New Brunswick,
and other areas," he explained.
As talented as Hermus is, he wouldn't be a prominent figure in our
local music scene without some influence from some well-known musicians.
On his list of artists he admires are Patty Larkin and Janis Ian.
"There are quite a few artists who are bringing wonderful material
to the fore. Peter Mulvey brings a poet's eye and a different voice to
the scene. Patty Larkin knocks me out. The first time I heard her song,
"Tango," my brother and I were driving through Woodstock and just pulled
the car over to stop and listen," Hermus admitted
An Island folk artist is working on keeping the genre alive in
New York City
By: Barbara Russo
Gary Paul Hermus, a singer/songwriter from Staten Island,
is trying to save the folk music scene in the New York City area.
By playing in coffeehouses, bars and with nonprofit organizations in
churches, Hermus is a local artist working on keeping folk alive.
The contemporary folk musician who currently resides in Morristown,
NJ, describes his music as anything but "poppy." According to Hermus,
part of the reason various musical genres are dying, including country/folk
stylings, is that there are too many talented musicians crossing over
into the pop scene.
"People like John Mayer and Dave Matthews are an inspiration for a
lot of young contemporary folksingers, yet they really crossed over into
more of the pop charts," Hermus explained.
By singing folk music in New York City, Hermus is already a rare
breed, but on top of that, his style is rather unique.
"I think of myself as a singing storyteller, which is a little less
common these days. A lot of what one hears in the genre is involved in
self exploration," Hermus explained. "I do some of that, but tend to develop
more of my songs about other characters; even when I'm singing in first
person, it's often from another's perspective, like writing a short story
or a play. And in many of the songs that are about occurrences in my
life, it's often more like recounting a story about a particularly eventful
experience in your life to a friend."
Hermus, who will be playing at the Muddy Cup on January 28,
admits that the country/folk scene is barely hanging on in the New
York City area."There are still clubs around, but it's a far cry from
what it was. At one time, Stapleton was a real hotbed of all kinds of
exciting music. Even New Dorp had places where you could listen to what
was then called fusion jazz," Hermus explained.
He also feels that only about a decade or so ago, people were much
more willing to listen to a variety of music, rather than just sticking
to that one style that identified a specific geographic area.
"People's ears were a lot more open to music from all kinds of sources
at that point. They may have had a favorite genre, but seemed to appreciate
hearing different musical perspectives. People seem to be a lot more
locked into a genre supporting it in opposition to other music styles
as if they were rooting for the home football team or something," Hermus
Despite this bad news, Hermus believes that there's still hope for
the folk music scene on Staten Island, In fact, he believes the outer
boroughs have better oppportunities for folk artists than Manhattan does.
"Coffeehouses and a lot of not-for-profit operations that happen in churches
and colleges provide some hope for folk artists," Hermus explained.
He added, "While the clubs in Manhattan have to worry about filling
seats, so that if you're not hot and don't have a large following of friends
and such to fill the place, you aren't getting to play anything more than
an open mike, the places in the outer boroughs still offer lesser known
people a place to display their work."
And Hermus should know what's going on in venues all over the city.
For several decades now, he's been playing in a variety of places throughout
the city, as well as Staten Island and New Jersey, including the C-Note
Lounge, the Indigo Coffeehouse and Rutgers Univeristy's Red Lion Lounge.
In addition to his extensive musical resume, there are many projects
in the works for Hermus, including a new CD and many live appearances.
"I've begun production on my first CD and I'm very excited about it.
When it's done, I hope to have it available on the Island at places like
the Perking Latte and Mandolin Brothers, as well as on line," Hermus said.
If your interest has been piqued so far, head out to see Gary Paul
Hermus at the Muddy Cup at 388 Van Duzer St. on Friday, Jan.28. He'll be
performing live from 8 p.m.-11 p.m.
For more information about Gary Paul Hermus, his upcoming appearances
or to sample the music, log on to his Web site at www.garypaulhermus.com.