Enrico Banducci's Legendary hungry i Lives Again!
hungry i Memories 2
ENRICO BANDUCCI gladly takes credit for the spirit which made the hungry i a mecca for those with something to say and sing, as well as those who wanted to hear the stimulating and innovative, citing his booking of Mort Sahl as an example of his philosophy.
“I gave people artistic freedom, allowed them to express themselvesas they wished, without any interference from me or anybody else.
I didn't care for nightclubs, and saw my place as more of a theater. I detested those kinds of nightclubs where girls came out and danced and sang, and a stupid comic would come out and say stupid jokes. I wanted a place where a lot of expression went on. It snowballed by itself. I didn't plan it. You never plan these things. You sort of walk
I liked what Mort Sahl had to say, and If I wanted to hear 'em, I put 'em onstage. I liked Mort when I first met him. He was a little rebellious. It was new to hear him talk about political situations. That was new in entertainment. They weren't even doing it in New York yet.”
TONY TOWNSEND, who both performed at and managed THE NOCTAMBULIST in Santa Barbara, recalls auditioning at the hungry i and doing other gigs around San Francisco.
there was a time when the hungry i loomed large in my
consciousness, and I hoped to perform there. It was either 1962 or 1964 when I actually came close. A friend, (a fraternity brother from UCSB), was a public relations guy living in Sausalito then.
His name was Jim Flood, and he later became the manager of David Cassidy. At that time he was just getting into the personal management business, and he probably was seeing what he could do with me. I went to his house and rehearsed an audition set
(not my cup of tea, to be sure!). Then he arranged an audition for me at the hungry i with David Allen (?) the manager.
I was very uncomfortable but did OK. Nevertheless, I was not hired.
I went there again around the same time to see Glen Yarbrough, as I recall,
whose accompanist was a very good classical guitarist named John Stauber. I
had met John at the Jabberwock in Berkeley when I auditioned there,
(likewise to no success).
I did have paid gigs in San Francisco, however, at the DRINKING GOURD on
Union Street and at the PURPLE ONION near the hungry i, both in 1964.”
WES GREENLY discovered BARBRA STREISAND at the hungry i and heard her sing there several times, and followed her career ever after.
I had the pleasure of seeing Ms. Streisand again (for the tenth time live since the hungry i days), in San Jose, California in 2006, and was really turned on when she mentioned performing at the club. She said someone in the hungry i audience had asked her how she held her long notes, and that her voice seized up in mid-performance. I wasn't there on that occasion, but at the 2006 concert she claimed that the psychological syndrome was so powerful that she required a voice lesson to break out of it.
All I can remember is that we always made her feel welcome and encouraged. Those were magical nights at the i.
Artist DREW FAGAN (www.drewfagan.com
) recalls the hungry i's resident group THE GATEWAY SINGERS.
” I went to Stanford University from 1957 to 1961. The hungry i was one of our favorite venues
I saw The Gateway Singers first just as they were releasing their debut album. I went to shows when Lou Gottlieb and Ernie Sheldon were with the group, and a couple of years later, sat on the floor of a ski resort with Gottlieb and The (original) Limelighters and sang along for an evening. A couple of my Stanford friends went to high school with Travis.
I actually have a recording (made during my Stanford days) of me playing banjo and singing "Puttin' On The Style" with a group of my fraternity brothers.”
NICHOLS AND MAY fan CHRIS PLAYER recalls some of the hungry i's ambience.
“I was fascinated the first time we entered the hungry i cellar. The seating was like school desks built around three sides of the stage, and only that bare brick wall as a backdrop.
Not like a regular nightclub, there were even children in the restaurant section. And while the humor on stage was brittle and knife-like, the candle lighting could also create a feeling of a romantic restaurant. You could never go there and come out unsurprised, even when it was to follow an act you'd seen again and again. The I was that kind of place.”
Experience your own hungry i reunion with the wonderful DVD featuring commentary by Enrico Banducci and performances by The Kingston Trio, Limeliters, Mort Sahl, jonathan Winters, Stan Wilson + rare Lenny Bruce footage. Just click the icon to order direct from Amazon!