The Ponkiesburg Pickin' Party
est. 2000

Louis Giampetruzzi, 1953-2006

Louis Giampetruzzi, with his wife Kate

In memory
Louis Giampetruzzi, 1953-2006

Lou Giampetruzzi was a mentor and friend to many of us at the Pickin' Party, and his generosity and musicianship were an example to all of us. Anytime that he and his wife Kate started a song, we knew something great would happen. A key player in the NYC bluegrass and old-time scene for more than thirty years, he will be sorely missed by everyone at the jam.

Lou inspired many of us who played with him at the Brazen Head on sunday afternoons. Kate and Lou started coming to the Brazen Head shortly after Barbara Brousal started the picking party in October, 2000. Lou would -- without fail-- be the first one to arrive to get "his spot" in the alcove and it was under his influence that the musical level of the picking party reached new heights, especially during the first hour or so of music when his energy would absolutely pour out of his mandolin. Lou would always leave early to "get a parking space back in bay ridge." And he would make a grand, gracious exit.

Many of the friends he made at the picking party, including Ken Ficara, Bob Jackson, Dave Gandin, and Ben Fraker, became members of the Kate and Lou Band and performed with them around town, including memorable shows at the Good Coffeehouse and a stellar performance at the Howl Fest in 2004, when the Kate and Lou Band absolutely blew away the other 5 or 6 bands playing that night. Lou was directly influential in the forming of several bands that grew out of the sunday picking, including the Cobble Hillbillies and the Y'all Stars. Lou's constant, painstaking encouragement led many pickers to take their playing more seriously and to see the importance of the vibrant scene created by Barbara.

We will miss Lou very much.

--Fran Leadon


I first met Lou back when the Ponkiesburg Pickin' Party was still at the Brazen Head on Sunday afternoons. I had a lot to learn about the music, and Lou, the elder statesman of the group, was always generous with his time, his memory and his music. I used to get there early on Sunday afternoons to sit with him for ten or fifteen minutes and learn a new tune or two, tunes I knew he'd kick off at full speed the next week, taking for granted that I'd learned them. He was a great mentor, a great musician, and a good friend, and I learned a lot from him and Kate both, about music and life. /P>

The photo above is the Lou that I remember best -- a Sunday afternoon at the jam, probably telling a story or gently poking fun at Fran or I, always ready with a smile and a joke and a tune. Telling stories, teaching, playing and always having time for those of us who were still learning to read when he was out there kicking ass with the Wonderbeans and his other bands.

It was an honor and a joy to play with the Kate and Lou Band, and to get to know him and Kate both. Peace, Lou. You will be with us every time we play.

--Ken Ficara


Lou was a true gentleman ,in his life and his music, I always enjoyed being around him, he was a wonderful fellow. Very few people enjoyed playing and singing as much as he did. I will remember him fondly. My heartfelt condolences to Kate and his entire family.

--Pete Elegant


i listened to almost the whole tribute on wkcr yesterday morning. you, tone, fran, charles, rich, and brad did a wonderful job.

having been a part of the sunday pick'n parties as a listener for so long, it warmed my heart to hear what you all had to say. and, had it not been for the encouragement that lou enstilled every sunday evening, i don't think i ever would have started playing the accordion.

what i saw was my friend fran, who did not know how to play the guitar, learn how to play and then sing. fran encouraged me to play when on a visit to his appartment one evening for a cold beer, i opened this banged up old suitcase i saw on the floor to find a bright red piano accordion inside. i took piano lessons as a kid so the keyboard was a welcomed sight to me. fran encouraged me to try it on. he got out his guitar and we played a song, he said.

it was that kindness and encouragement that led me to take lessons with lennie, who's playing i loved and watched on sundays. and when lennie showed up to the brazen head with that beautiful little 12 base honer i thought that maybe i could try something that size. with lennie's encouragement, i started.

what i did not know until yesterday after listening to the tribute is that lou was behind all of those emails fran was getting that critiqued the pick'n party and later performances. i remember fran and charles first singing together on sundays and i remember their first performance on stage. i did not know that lou was behind the tradition that had become a very important part of my life.

all of their talent and love for playing music together brought more and more people to the pick'n party. before long there were all levels of talent from all ages of people gathered together and commited to playing music every sunday.

it truely was a special event to have kate and lou at the pick'n party.

thank you lou. thank you kate.

love,
martha

ps. did anyone get an email from lou yesterday?

--Martha Burgess


I first met Kate and Lou at Sunnys in 2000, they were playing a duet in the back room. I had never met them before and had reservations about what they would sound like. They started out with Kate singing a song and i was amazed she has one sweet voice! There playing was solid and the harmonies were very good.

Then when Lou put his mandolin down and picked up the Accordion i was worried. Few people can play the thing with any soul. I am happy to say i was not dissapointed, Lou was a Bad Ass Accordionist, by far his best instrument and he played many.

I got to know them more at the jams we attended. Lou would allways tell me"you've got it, Keep it up" he helped me gain confidence. Lou had a very traditional approach to mandolin,simple and consistend with feeling, that is all i wanted too.

I could go on for a while but you get the picture, he was bigger than life!

--Fred Skellenger


If you have remembrances of Lou to share, please email them to Ken.
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