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Big Town Groove

Phtoto of Duke Ellington
Produced in association with the Daily News, Big Town Groove is a one-hour documentary look at how musical genres from jazz to hip-hop were transformed by New York City. From Duke Ellington in Harlem to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground at Andy Warhol's Factory, the city seeped into the music. Woody Guthrie wrote "This Land is Your Land" on 44th street, while Dylan reinvented himself in the nightclubs of Greenwich Village. Doo wop found its echo in the subway stations of the Bronx, and the grit of the Bowery and CBGB's gave punk its New York accent.


Blondie Oscar Brand has hosted WNYC's "Folk-song Festival" since 1945.

Grandmaster Caz is the first simultaneous MC and DJ in history.

Lenny Cocco and The Chimes formed in 1957, and reached the Billboard charts with their recording of "Once in a While."

Anthony DeCurtis is a Grammy-award winning writer, and a contributing editor for Rolling Stone.

Paul Mercer Ellington Jr. directs the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Jim Farber is the chief pop music critic for the Daily News

Bob Gruen has photographed rock and roll legends ranging from John Lennon to the Sex Pistols.

Nora Guthrie is director of the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives.

Photo of graffiti DJ Kool Herc, widley considered "the George Washington of hip hop," invented the idea of breakbeat DJing.

David Hinckley is a critic-at-large for the Daily News.

John Holmstrom is the editor of Punk Magazine.

Jim Jarmusch is an independent filmmaker.

Beverly Kahler grew up in the Bronx in the 1940s and 50s and runs the website

Lenny Kaye was Patti Smith's guitarist.

Hilly Kristal is the owner and founder of CBGB.

KRS-ONE is a rap star and former head of the legendary Boogie Down Productions.

Johnny Kuse and The Excellents had a hit record with "Coney Island Baby"

Photo of jazz singer Howard Mandel is a freelance jazz critic, and the author of Future Jazz.

Wynton Marsalis is world-renowned jazz trumpet player and the artistic director for the recently expanded and relocated Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Moby is a DJ, producer, and vocalist who innovated and popularized electronic music.

Bruce Morrow, a.k.a. "Cousin Brucie," is a legendary DJ, and the host of two programs on WCBS-FM.

Billy Name was the photographer for Andy Warhol's The Factory.

Rahim was an original member of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.

Tommy Ramone was the drummer for The Ramones.

Photo of Empire State Building Lee Ranaldo is a co-founder of Sonic Youth.

Susan Rotolo is a Greenwich-Village based artist.

Bobby Short is a legendary cabaret performer, and an institution at the Café Carlyle since 1968.

Dr. Billy Taylor is a jazz pianist who came to New York in 1942.

Arturo Vega was the artistic director for the Ramones.

Suzanne Vega is a New-York based singer/songwriter.

Chris Washburne is a jazz and salsa trombonist, and an assistant professor at Columbia University.

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Jazz was born in New Orleans, but it grew up in Harlem.
doowopA Distinctively New York Sound
Teenagers belted out four-part harmonies on subway platforms and high school bathrooms.
Greenwich Village Folk
New sounds, new voices, and a freedom you didn't find anywhere else.
Bob DylanTalkin' New York
Bob Dylan rambles into New York and reinvents himself.
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Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground document another aspect of city life.
Velvet Underground
punkA Rawer Sound
The city fell apart, but it was good for Punk.
Hip Hop
An alternative to gang violence in the South Bronx becomes a billion dollar industry.
Hip Hop
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Favorite songs about the city.
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Funding for Big Town Groove
provided by:

P.C. Richard & Son Ameritel Con Edison NY State Lottery Long Island University
Thirteen WNET New York