|The Mountain City Four in 1964: Kate McGarrigle, Jack Nissenson, Anna McGarrigle and Peter Weldon (Photo: Brian Merrett, Merrett Images)|
I was saddened to hear that traditional folksinger and storyteller Jack Nissenson passed away this week in Montreal at age 82.
Jack started performing traditional folksongs in Montreal in the 1950s and was a member of an early-‘60s folk group called the Pharisees.
Circa 1964, Jack and Peter Weldon, also a member of the Pharisees, met teenaged sisters Kate and Anna McGarrigle and formed the Mountain City Four, the most legendary of 1960s folk groups in Montreal.
After the Mountain City Four, Jack performed as a soloist and in several other groups – most recently the What Four, which also included Peter Weldon and Jane McGarrigle. He was also active in storytelling circles.
On July 2, 1962, when the still relatively unknown Bob Dylan performed at Shimon Ash’s Finjan coffeehouse on Victoria Avenue in Montreal, Jack recorded the set and, years later, the tape became one of the best Dylan bootleg albums.
Jack was one of my early mentors on the Montreal folk scene. I learned much from him in the late-1960s and ‘70s. Although I didn’t see him often in recent years, I continued to enjoy his friendship whenever our paths crossed.