What I Learned In The Obits: R.I.P. Allan Block

I came across the obituary of Allan Block the other day. It wasn’t a name I recognized, I will admit. If his name isn’t familiar to you, he was an important figure in the Greenwich Village folk scene in the Sixties as well as in the fashion world. Stone, who died at 90 on Oct. 23, was from the time when owning a leather shop meant that he handed-tooled itmes out of leather. Block was particular known for his sandals and helped to popularize the footwear during the Sixties.

He also loved to fiddle and he welcomed musicians his shop, which was located near Washington Square Park. From what I read, a huge number of great blues and folk musicians – from the past and for the future – hung out at his shop. Names like Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Woody Guthrie, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, John Sebastian and a lad named Bob Dylan all have mentioned as musicians who would stop by and play. It’s also worth noting that Stone’s daughter Rory has grown up to be a mighty fine blues performer in her own right.

Ramblin' Jack Elliot at Block's Shop (from Sing Out Magazine)

Ramblin’ Jack Elliot at Block’s Shop (from Sing Out Magazine)

Also wanted to mention that PBS’ American Masters series is airing a very fine documentary on Jimi Hendrix. It isn’t a big expose, doesn’t uncover a lot of earthshaking material or use flashy film-making techniques, but it does a terrific job at presenting his life story. There are some interesting comments from family, friends and colleagues like producer/engineer Eddie Kramer and a wealth of footage, including a clip of him in London in 1967 playing some Sgt. Pepper. While Hendrix superfans might want more revelations, it is definitely a rock doc to recommend.

About Michael Berick

I am a longtime writer, and lover, of music and pop culture. I have written for Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Scene and more places (that I wouldn't take up more of your time mentioning now).
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