I did some 700 or 800 concerts, all without a contract. People would call, Izzy I'll be in NYC in two weeks can you do a concert at the store, and I did, and, of course, they would get more than people usually got at the expensive coffee houses around, and I had nothing to sell in the way of drinks, just music, no sound system, no lighting system, and I know that Don got much more for his concerts, so that he was doing it as support for me, in the nicest way possible, and the most wonderful for the public that came, folkies like myself.
The concert took place at the Washington Square Methodist Church where I put on concerts too large for my store, and I had a little sound system, with Don Wade, who took maybe 25 bucks a night, for him and all the equipment, and our agreement was not to make the sound more than 10% stronger, so that people still had to listen, rather than get the music shoved into their ears.
Over 400 people came, and the Church was dangerously overcrowded and I sat at the entrance selling tickets, praying that there wouldn't be a famous fire and catastrophe that night. The larger concerts would be between 100 and 250 tickets sold. So the night started off wonderfully and I couldn't really listen as I was outside the door, making sure that nothing would happen to disturb the concert, and I was happy with all the aplause, and he played a long time, and no drinks, no bar, no nothing, just happy people listening to a happy performer and, of course, where everyone knew everyone else and everyone knew Don from other concerts and he knew lots of people, and that is not the situation today, as we both know.
The concert is ending and I hear a huge sound of cheering but I have no idea what or why. Don soon comes outside and I am to pay him half, as usual. He is smiling, smiling. I took in 840 dollars, so I said to myself, that I'll give him 400 instead of 420 dollars and that would make no difference, and make up a little for all the concerts I lost money on. And he started laughing. Izzy I'm giving you all the money! He told the audience that I was getting it all and that's when the spontaneous cheering took place. In retrospect I can say that the cheering was a kind of recognition of all my occasional little tricks of survival - such as the best concert series in NYC, at prices between 1 and 2 bucks - that everyone knew about.
He hails a cab to go home, it is late, and suddenly he returns and says Izzy, I forgot my wallet, can you lend me ten dollars. I give him some 15 or so one dollar bills out of my bulging pocket. And it was delicious to live like that that evening. Where I am a part of things, mostly quietly in my Folklore Center, getting people together as my calling, I can say now. Always talking, yes, and often writing in a notebook, and people loving my column in Sing Out!, never knowing who I was going to write about or attack or whatever.
Izzy later sent a second email:
Izzy Young, who still refuses to have a website, but I am slowly acceding to the concept and I'll probably have one going by the time I am 80 in a year and a half.