Owned and operated by Manny Rubin in the 1960s, the 2nd Fret was located in the heart of the Rittenhouse Square coffeehouse scene. The building is still there.
What happened behind the then-red door was magical. Jamil Overton knows. He was there and used to perform at the folk club:
There were poets and folk singers. It was the spot. Jazz was the center of everything that happened there. It was a transition from beatniks to hippies.
Philly’s premier folk club, the 2nd Fret played host to folk singers and jazz artists who went on to greatness. Musicians like Arlo Guthrie, Norman Connors, Alfie Pollit, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry, and Richie Havens. A former habitué said artists returned to the small club over and over because they wanted to make sure it survived.
Joni Mitchell performed there many times, recording live at the 2nd Fret in 1967. Joni’s legacy includes collaborations with Herbie Hancock and Weather Report whose members included Philly natives Alphonso Johnson and Victor Bailey. This month she will be presented the SFJAZZ Lifetime Achievement Award by Wayne Shorter:
Ms. Mitchell’s extensive collaborations with jazz artists are a hallmark of her far ranging vision and iconic sensibilities. In the final project before his death, bassist Charles Mingus wrote six pieces for Joni Mitchell. Those compositions featuring lyrics by Ms. Mitchell are captured on the 1979 classic Mingus featuring jazz legends Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock (both previous recipients of the SFJAZZ Lifetime Achievement Award). Her work with other groundbreaking artists including Jaco Pastorius, Tom Scott, Tony Williams, Pat Metheny, and Michael Brecker has led to a legacy that transcends pop and jazz music.
Joni is recovering from an undisclosed medical condition. For updates, follow #ThankYouJoni on Twitter.