bobb1108.jpgBill Graham's first home in the U.S. was New York, where he lived with his family after escaping Nazi Germany. It wasn't until many years later that he would open the Fillmore East, credited for being the premier concert venue of its time and playing host to many now legendary bands. When he died in a helicopter crash in 1991 he left many friends behind, and one of them was Bob Barsotti--who began the Bill Graham Foundation. On November 19th, Barsotti brings a celebration to the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza (oh how times have changed); Widespread Panic will headline, and you can buy tickets here. This week, Barsotti told us a little bit about his old friend, and his foundation.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Bill Graham Foundation? The Bill Graham Foundation was started shortly after the tragic accident that took Bill's life in 1991. It was a way for Bill's friends and associates to continue the good works that we all new him so well for. He was one to take care of the little guy, people who were under the radar of larger philanthropic organizations. Our focus is on small community oriented groups working primarily with children in the arts and music, although we also support other compassionate projects in our communities.

What can folks expect at the concert this month? A rousing rocking concert by the wonderful artists in Widespread Panic. There will also be a small silent auction of an autographed poster from the Bill Graham Foundation collection.

Are you planning any other NYC concerts? Not at this time, but we do plan on having an annual concert event in NYC. Our last one was in May of this year and featured Dark Star Orchestra, the Spin Doctors, and Moonalice.

Can you tell us a story from the old days, working with Bill? When we were presenting Jerry Garcia at the Lunt-Fontaine Theatre we were told that we could not have any speakers in the lobby. Bill was adamant that we have them so I had to spend some time with the fire marshall going over all of the safety aspects to make sure that there could be no issues. The guy just wasn't quite going along with my reasoning so Bill had told me to use Jerry as back up, to go to him with the fire marshall if I was not getting what I wanted done. So off to the dressing room I go to check in on Jerry to see if I can bring the fire marshall down to see him. He's fine with it so in comes the fire marshall and it turns out he's a closet Deadhead. So once he has a chance to meet Jerry, and chat with him for a few minutes, everything worked out just fine.

What was one of your most memorable moments from that time? New Years eve when Bill dressed up as a road warrior type dude, all black leather etc. All the staff came in costume that night as well. I think one of the highlights was old Willie the security guard we brought from San Francisco for the Broadway run. Bill had sent Willie off with our costumer and he came back dressed up as an old west gunfighter. Perfect costume for a real gentleman! The staff party after the show up in the mezzanine bar was a lot of fun, everyone all dressed up in costumes and we were done with the run so there was a certain amount of relief mixed with regret.

bg1108.jpgI believe the old Fillmore East is now a bank, any comments on that? At least the name of the alley there is Bill Graham's Way!

Which New Yorker do you most admire? Bill Graham (pictured in Central Park).

Given the opportunity, how would you change New York? I wouldn't!

Do you have a favorite New York celebrity sighting or encounter? Last time I was in NYC I was walking down the street at Broadway and about 53rd when I saw Jackie Mason crossing the street with another gentleman about the same age. It was a real treat to see Jackie out and about.

What's your current soundtrack? Levon Helm's latest CD. Can't stop listening to it.

Best cheap eat in the city. I don't know about cheap but I always make time for the Carnegie Deli when I'm in town. After all it was Bill's favorite spot. He liked to boast that he was always served cloth napkins when he went there. His photo is still on the wall.

Best venue to see music in NYC. I love the Fillmore Irving Plaza!