LIVE: Tom Akstens & Neil Rossi with the Kossoy Sisters @ Caffe Lena, 10/3/09

Tom Akstens and Neil Rossi
Tom Akstens and Neil Rossi

If you closed your eyes at Caffe Lena last Saturday night and listened hard to the music, you would think that you had traveled back in time to the 1960’s folk scene in Greenwich Village. On stage, the Kossoy Sisters, identical twins, were singing traditional folk songs in perfect sibbling harmony – often with the audience singing right along.

Irene and Ellen Kossoy released their first album in 1959 – that’s right, a half century ago. They played the Newport and Fox Hollow Folk Festivals to critical acclaim, becoming featured performers on the national folk scene of the 1960s. But as electric guitars replaced acoustic ones, and the public left folk for rock, the sisters resumed their normal lives away from the limelight. Years later, their song “I’ll Fly Away” was included in the Coen Brother’s film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and they’ve since resumed touring again.

Meanwhile, surrounded by an arsenal of instruments parked around their chairs, the dynamic duo of Tom Akstens and Neil Rossi launched into their splendid mix of traditional old-timey songs, country blues, humorous banter and superbly crafted originals. These two veterans of the folk scene have played together for more than 45 years since they met in high school.

Akstens had a long musical association with the late Artie Traum, stretching back over more than 30 years, while Rossi was a former member of David Bromberg’s band. Many of the songs that filled Caffe Lena are featured on their brand new CD recording on Snowshoe Records, “Scoundrels, Trains and Tragic Romance.”

As the evening’s fun wound down, the spirit of the old Greenwich Village scene was alive and well in Saratoga as Tom Akstens, Neil Rossi and the Kossoy Sisters all gathered on the tiny stage to play and sing the night away.

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Nashville Blues
Who Broke the Lock on the Henhouse Door?
Sandy River Belle
I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome
That Tickled Me
Johnson City Blues
How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?
Rock Salt and Nails
Johnny Gray/Rye Straw
Lonesome Whistle Blues
Tennessee Waltz

It’s Good to See You
Little Birdie
Across the Blue Mountains
Billy Barlow
The Two Sisters
Red Rountree
Belle Starr
Market Basket
Poor Ellen Smith
I’ll Fly Away

The Kossoy Sisters
The Kossoy Sisters

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