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About Art Podell
Four years before Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel (who would have been "Paul and Artie" in any case) brought their folk-based vocalizing to Columbia Records, the label was host to a rather different duo with the same given names: Art & Paul. Art Podell and Paul Potash were young denizens of the mid- to late '50s New York folk scene when they decided to start performing together in Greenwich Village. Both Potash and Podell were skilled guitarists and talented songwriters, and Podell was a particularly talented arranger. One of the more distinctive duos working out of New York, they were signed to Columbia Records in 1960, at a time when record companies were starting to look for the next Kingston Trio; Columbia was hoping for lightning to strike again, as it had for Terry Gilkyson and the Easy Riders with "Marianne." They cut two albums for Columbia, of which the first, Songs of Earth and Sky, is regarded as a "lost" classic of the late-'50s/early-'60s folk boom. Highlighted by their adaptation of John Lomax and Alan Lomax's version of "All the Pretty Horses," the album achieved a minor cult following on the East Coast and sold well enough to justify a second LP, Hangin', Drinkin' and Stuff, in 1961. That same year, the duo left New York for California to test the waters of the West Coast folk scene, but they'd broken up the team before the year was out. A few months later in early 1962, Art Podell joined the early, studio-bound version of the New Christy Minstrels, whose debut (and only album in that incarnation) created enough of a splash to justify a second album and the creation of a performing group. Podell became part of that active group of Christies, by some estimates the dominant member along with founder Randy Sparks. Meanwhile, Paul Potash became a member of Sparks' New Christy Minstrels farm-team, the Back Porch Majority, and two years later, in 1964, joined the Christies, working alongside his former partner for a year.
Podell later worked with Jim Helms, recording Jim & Art Sing and Play a Folk Song, which featured the traditional number "Careless Love," and also appeared (with Jim Rosmini, among others) on Mason Williams' The Banjo Story album. He became a producer and in collaboration with Nick Woods, was responsible for recording Biff Rose's The Thorn in Mrs. Rose's Side for the Tetragrammaton label, which contained the original version of "Fill Your Heart," a song that David Bowie covered on Hunky Dory. Potash continued performing, even sharing a stage with Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band in 1967 in California, and also appears to have done some acting. ~ Bruce Eder