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Cordley Coit

Father Cordley wears a number of different hats. He covered the Colorado Springs peace riot in Peace Rally Goes Wrong. He hosts an Equinaut forum Father Cordley's Confessional; a discussion forum regarding art, poetry, music, relationships, martial arts, and personal freedom. Cordley has also been a Music Producer, Photographer, Photojournalist, and motion picture film editor, and Dharma Bum.

Get sage advice from another scarred old dog.

Who's your Rabbi?


As a very young man I worked for Ed Lutrup, Island Records, Oak Bluffs, Mass. as an assistant field recording engineer: Art, Poetry and Photography were my direction. Everyone of my mentors Tom Benton, Harry Hess, W. Eugene Smith, Chester Anderson, Kay Johnson, Ted Joans, Hillaire Hiler were serious about music. I owe understanding of film making and performance to 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner Ornette Colemen and Norma Di Marco as well as Pauline Samuelson. The earth is about music.

My friend Ornette won the Pulitzer Prize 2007
""Of all the languages that human beings are speaking on the planet, it's some form of grammar," Coleman said of his album. "For me, playing music is analyzing grammar."

East Coast


Ramblin Jack Elliott was the Best Man at my Wedding. I married Lady Margaret Crowther in 63 on the Vineyard. Here is Jack singing Railroad Bill with Woody Guthrie

Present but never part of the "Mel Lyman Family".
See Inside the cult led by Mel Lyman, the East Coast Charles Manson
David Gude whose music is on New Folk Vanguard album; Jesse Benton, Faith Franckenstein [1] Mel Lyman, Maria Muldaur (take it Mel), and Jim Queskin whose band became the notorius east coast "family" formed the core of the Lymans in 62-63.

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The Jim Queskin Jug Band featured a fetching young Italian singer named Maria Grazia Rosa Domenica d'Amato who later married Geof Muldaur, (Maria Muldaur) Here's a very short clip of Maria singing Big Fat Woman Blues.

Participated of the People's Democracy up in Belfast 1968-69. Ran with Sylvia Warren who owned part of the West End Bar up by Columbia and with Thomas Francis Noonan.

Who's your rabbi?

What was an anarchist like myself doing as the town Deputy Marshall?
In both the photography and police world in the long dead New York of the Fifties and early Sixties photographers would ask who's your rabbi?

Mine were Weegee, Gene Smith and Harry Hess.

Weegee's crime scene photography as a graphic novel - in pictures - Cult New York photographer Weegee was often found at crime scenes before the police, and his stark pictures gained him notoriety and ultimately fame in the art world. His work has now been turned into the graphic novel Weegee: Serial Photographer by Max de Radiguès and Wauter Mannaert

Weegee was a whiz (national geographic channel) with the ethical dust kicked up around news work. Smith was good for ethical problems with the subject and the structure of the picture it's self. Hess was great at the problems of working in a studio environment.
Years later as a cop (I did four years as a town Marshal) would use the question what would Frank Serpico ( my mentor) do with this problem? I had known him in passing in the Village and he was good with conflicted emotions that cops work under.

Martha's Vineyard
Rat Hunt

I spent part of my mispent youth in Chilmark Mass a village on Martha's Vineyard a place inhabited by a generation of Country and Scruggs pickers and a couple of oldtimey players: one the famous Backward Sam Firk and the other Peter Mitchel. Backward Sam would take after Tuning Tom Pailey the first picker to tune the guitar since the late Stradivari who went and invented that instrument. Any way we would gather at the Chilmark Dump and after the expenditure of much ammunition we would line up the body's of rodents. Peter who had backed up Billy Keith was a back to basics guy who kept Sam from flying off among the sea gulls They were as pretty a grave full of real estate agents. The lads would then play tunes until the music ran out along with the Platte Valley. Sam and Peter are playing their flattops on another plane, I hope to wake up one day and hear the Blue Eagle played with great taste, once again.

I could not allow the great Wayne Henderson and his town of Rugby NC to completely obscure the great American Rat Hunt. According to some the Norway Rats of Martha's Vineyard are descendants of the rats that came with Leif Ericson in his 1259 landing on our fair isle. Our Norway rats are smaller and brighter than the English Dock rat that has made Nantucket a tiny isle off Edgertown their home home since 1530's.
Martha's Vineyard never became the capitol that Rugby is - Rugby is where trains were made up from before the War Between the States. So musicians from all over America worked the trains and where Porters and Brakemen and engieers could make music while the trains were made up to go all over America. The music rode with the trains carrying the tunes of the Piedmont. Wayne Henderson's family benefited from all this comings and goings together,his grandfather Estel Ball played in the original Cartier Family. Wayne besides being a whiskey smooth player makes the best flat tops, mandolins and fiddles available. So when you hear talk of Peidmont music like Rev. Gary Davis, Doc Watson, Sam Firk (aka Mike Stewart) Wayne are hearing about places where the musician came together like Rugby or Minturn or Golden places where a person could step off a train and hear the latest from around America.


I first met Ornette at Berni Stollman's ESP Disk office in my building on West 57th Street and later in Paris. I also met Guy Debord re: Situationist and Peter LaFarge + Wikepedia there who knew the story of my grandfather and my great grandmother Lilla.

Peter wrote the song Ira Hayes and he started FAIR an organization for urban Indians.

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He introduced me to the young Townes VanZandt with whom I had a lifetime friendship.

Present in Europe with Ornette Coleman and received the coveted Teducation with Ted Joans.

Obscenity: "I am not here to rock the damned boat ...I'm here to sink it" ~ Putney Swope

I knew Splivvy who played the Cowboy, Poet and side kick to Ted Joans who in my life turned education to Teducation. "You have to Walk and bop. Dress right wear the right shades, don't click your fingers but make like you are finger popping." (Lord Buckley another finger popping daddy)
The bad mouthing of Swope found it was very important to film the person to the left of the hero who signifies. As the basketball player Splivvy plays Swope's conscience who brings the whole idea to it's logical end. Downey Sr. got a lot right and a bit wrong but what he did in terms of real filmmaking was make possible in The Harder They Come and other movies about real issues.
The Harder They Come inspired Michael X to return to Trinidad where he met his death / murder at the hands of American tools. Blood and Music. I think Jim Pines writes about the theme in Black cinema articles.

Some of my photographic work was published in British Gazette By Ray Gosling which appeared in the Balt Sun Papers in the mid sixties. Also I was lead photographer in "Poverty and Moral Degradation in Saint Anne's Nottingham" writers Ken Coates and Bill Silbourn University of Nottingham Press 1969.

I did some liner note pic for New Grass Revival's Third album, Penny Case Producer; Record album work for Reprise and films; action footage for BBC, ITN, NBC East German Television; and a longish film about Paris 68. Some of my footage shows up in Suffer Little Children a BBC documentary. Poetry Broken Mirror tribute to Ted Joans, Menchabee Journal Looking for Kaja and Blacklisted Journalist.

Obit - Mike Stewart
I first met Mike Stewart in 1955 at the Chimark dump he was reviving tubes thrown out by the Coast guard and making amps out of old electronics parts. He was also learning to play the guitar. The music teachers on Martha's Vineyard were: Charlie Close, Tom Rush, David Gude, Peter Mitchell, Johnny Pankin, Fat Phil Rhoads , Billy Keith, Rambling Jack Elliot..
I encouraged Mike to join me working for Ed Lutrup at Island Records in Oak Bluffs recording the folk scene and putting on concerts. His mother worked as a cook and waiter for Louise Tate King a fine chef to the folk.
Mike became a fine picker as clear as Tom Paley. I went off to Mexico and Mike moved to Washington DC and played and worked out of Coffee and Confusion where he joined up with Tom Hoskins, Bill Barth, Ed Denson and the young John Fehey. They worked very hard putting together a style now known as American Primitive, some say as a reaction to the music of Bob Dylan and Mel Lyman. I moved to DC in 60 for a cup of coffee and helped with Hoskins Piedmont Records project which brought Mississippi John Hurt back to the public. I left to return to Mexico and later New York.
Mike moved to Upper New York State and then settled with Hoskins in North Carolina dealing in 78 records with his Green Mountain Records Auction. He told me he disliked the music business and was proud to not be a professional musician as a non pro he made seven albums as Backward Sam Firk.
Five years back I ran into his name and gave him a call, he sent me a disc and we tried to put together a reunion. Distance, the price of fuel, flat out poverty and bad timing kept us apart.
This spring I came up with an idea to busk the Democratic Convention with Mike our singing being likened favorably with Fahey's dog featured on the Resurrection of Blind Joe Death. It would be a chance for me to learn guitar and him a chance to woo the Hillary maids of honor. Unfortunately his son told me he's been dead for five months. I miss Mike, his humor, his music and his ability preserve and expand the body of American Music.

West Coast

West Coast 1989 Social Communer with Peter Coyote and the Diggers.

"In the sixties you used to think that the style was important, because the style showed who you weren't. What turns out to have settled down to be much more important, I think, is the total commitment and engagement. Once you've experienced that, you can't settle for being a lunch-box johnny, except at the expense of great personal psychic damage." ~ Peter Coyote

Etymology of Jazz:
Knock me down with a Black Thorn Stick. There's fusion going on here. Hiller who was there is dead as are almost all the grandfathers and grandmothers. One might look among the Cajun folk or in Oklahoma ( a lot of Black Indian fusion there and in far West Texas the town of Anthony where a lot of the Buffalo Solidiers musterd out. My aunt Gladys Kemp thought Jazz was a word that her "Colored" mother ; if you used it, would wash your mouth out with Fells Napha. Her mother was a well known wigggle dancer in her youth. Her dad was Irish. May be some one like Lucy Parsons wrote or spoke about such origins. Robson or Hughs were interested word origins. Hope your rigging is rosined cause it looks rough in the chute. As I said Great grandmother had a mouth full of soap for kids who talked like that. Check with the Cajuns. What a mine field, I love it. Dance on.

Whose Your Rabbi?




The Irish and Native American tribes offer Thank You Poems

Thank You Poem

I would like to say thank you to Tom Rush for the tunes that carry us today.

Ted Joans for Teducation, the Ph d of cool.

James Ryan Morris for the Fire and the Fist.

Utah Phillips for being a museum.

Townes VanZandt for a few grey Federales.

Maria Muldar a voice in the dark.

Julie Monley a bright voice.

Bill Keith for tuning the banjo..

Eve Lyman for understanding women and showing us.

Peter Coyote for kindnesses rendered.

Warren Zevon for Standing in the Fire.

Peter Boyles for attempting the truth. Rick Barber a voice in the dark.

Bob Turner for making music mine.

Dee Minor,the bass is the engine of the band.

All the Seegers for walking before us.

Harry Tuft for keeping IzzyYoung's Folk Lore Center alive and well.

Maria Friberg for standing up to the the Bush looting of Denver.

Tim Hardin for dying for love and singing though it.

Peter La Farge and Glenn Morris for putting arrows in the shirt.

Tio Leo Tanguma for murals that carry us though air travel.

Master Wilhelm, Kay Starr, for teaching us self defense, never say no to fighting back.

To Patty Calhoun for the paper and Joe Calhoun for the film.

The cyber cowgrrl Karen Ellis for the Shadow of Motown and more.

Kemp and Ty Coit for backing my play.

1) John Henry: As of the nineteen fifties an 'easy rider' was a guy who lived with a whore but was not her pimp, a boy friend. This is good work any readers familiar with H.L. Davis work in the 1920s will appreciate it.

2) MindF---kers: by David Felton
A source book on the Rise of acid fascism in America, including material on Charles Manson, Mel Lyman, Victor Baranco and their followers ISBN G-87932-038-9

3) Author reappears forty years later Rock Me On The Water Review by C.Coit 10/2007 published by Animist Press
Just got though my old pal Renny Russell's new tome Rock Me On the Water a life On the Loose. In the mid sixties Terry and Renny Russell wrote and photographed a book called On the Loose. They talked Dave Brower into publishing it as a Sierra Club Book. On The Loose sold a million copies and made the Club a household word. Alas the Club, like America, has forgotten what freedom is.
Terry died before the book was published. Renny waited for the words and pictures to come for the next volume. Winters came and went river rose, trails were hiked, ropes were shared and boats,cars and people came an went in our lives.
Renny built a river dory and took it down stream. He carries us with him in his journal. An American book like The Concord and Merrimac Rivers by Henry David Thoreau. His writing is acute like a rifle shot over iron sights. He is like a well picked tune flowing changing key and returning though the circle of fifths.
The photos by him, his family and friends are spot on. The original art work looks like come from a Canyon wall painted seven hundred years back or yesterday.
It is good to know that around the next bend we might well see a well made dory piloted by a man hand crafting his life.


5) Summer of 63 a snapshot 6/1/11

It was April and I was about to be outta work. What a bitch. The suits at Y&R had been taken for a ride by some of Dicky Avadon's assistants and they were cutting the pay to all advertising studios by 50 percent and none of the agencies were going to pay anything for ninety days. My boss, the guy who signed the checks, had a loan to bridge him over but non one was going to get paid the summer of sixty three.

5) Good Music Alert: Eleanor Ellis
She's channeling Dink and Victoria Splivvy as important to right now as Otis Taylor. She uses John Hurt's signature push on the beat to float the instrument though. She's in the Washington Balt Metroplex area.