Village Gate

Village Gate

185 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

The Village Gate, a popular venue where jazz artists like Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Cannonball Adderley played, also employed Theatre Genesis’s Ralph Cook and Sam Shepard.


When Patti Met Sam


Patti Smith began pivoting from Off-Off-Broadway to poetry and rock ’n’ roll around the time she befriended playwright and drummer Sam Shepard. They first met after a Holy Modal Rounders show downstairs at the Village Gate, where Shepard had previously worked as a busboy. Smith was planning to write about the Rounders for the rock magazine Crawdaddy, but as Shepard’s bandmate Peter Stampfel said, “As soon as she saw Sam she forgot about the article. They took up with each other right off the bat.” “It was like being at an Arabian hoedown with a band of psychedelic hillbillies,” Smith recalled, describing seeing the Holy Modal Rounders in action. “I fixed on the drummer, who seemed as if he was on the lam and had slid behind the drums while the cops looked elsewhere.” Near the end of the set Smith was struck by Shepard’s song “Blind Rage,” which he sang; Stampfel described it as a “power-punkish number,” with lines such as “I’m gonna get my gun / Shoot ’em and run.” Smith told biographer Victor Bockris that Shepard’s “whole life moves on rhythms. He’s a drummer. I mean, everything about Sam is so beautiful and has to do with rhythm. That’s why Sam and I so successfully collaborated.”

From Chapter 25 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore