The Holy Modal Rounders Come Together

The Holy Modal Rounders Come Together

“The Rounders were actually invented by my ex–old lady Antonia,” Peter Stampfel said. “She talked about her ex-boyfriend Steve Weber, who was a serious speed freak. He’d been living in the street for a year, year and a half, walking around barefoot and stepping in dog shit and glass, as the story goes.” Stampfel was expecting a scary old guy, but Weber was only nineteen and looked like an idealized Li’l Abner. Hey, Stampfel thought, it looks like my long-lost brother. Better still, Weber played a steel-stringed guitar, not the type of “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” nylon-stringed guitars that Stampfel loathed. The plan of action was obvious: Take a bunch of amphetamine and play some music! After a few hours of crazed jamming, Peter said, “I gotta go to work. Do you want to come play with me?” The audience at the Gaslight was instantly knocked out by their act, so the speeding folkies basically kept playing for three days straight, bouncing from place to place. At the end of their musical bender, they glimpsed themselves in a mirror while performing in Café Rafio. Holy fuck, Stampfel thought, that’s the most weird-ass shit I’ve ever seen. The two were sporting what could be called an old-timey style: jeans, vests, pony-skin shoes, and long hair (a look that was later adopted by the hippies). This uniform was favored by traditional musicians, who worshiped Folkways Records’ Anthology of American Folk Music.

From Chapter 15 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


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