David Ippolito is an American singer/songwriter/playwright who lives in New York City. He has self-released eight albums and is best known for his weekly summer performances in Central Park, which are attended by thousands of people. He styles himself as “That Guitar Man from Central Park.”
In 1992, intending only to make a little lunch money, Ippolito unknowingly began a fascinating journey and an unusual career by performing an impromptu concert on a hill in Central Park in front of a few people who gathered. Among those present was editor Jack Rosenthal from the New York Times, who the next day published an editorial about the performance. The next week, Ippolito played again, and began to gather a following. For the last 20 years, he has performed on a hill near a picturesque rowboat lake almost every summer weekend to large crowds of passers-by and regulars, including visitors from around the globe, and has become a beloved New York icon, creating an intimate “It’s Just Us” feeling no matter how big his audience.
Ippolito sings covers by James Taylor, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Harry Chapin, Paul Simon, Tom Petty, Jason Mraz, Matt Nathanson, and more.
His latest and 8th CD, “Wouldn’t Want It Any Other Way,” released in autumn 2009, includes the song “Resolution,” which seeks investigation of U.S. government officials who approved water-boarding and other torture. This song’s powerful music video, which was posted pre-release of the album on YouTube, inspired a series of prime-time TV ads urging Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor. The album also features “Keep Hope Alive,” which was co-written with Sid Bernstein, the legendary music promoter who brought the Beatles to America.
Ippolito, known for his storytelling skills and sense of humor, has funny conversations with audience members during his shows and sometimes tosses granola candy bars into the crowd. On special holiday weekends, he also gives away hundreds of free hot dogs and slices of pizza. Just-married couples often stop by after their wedding to share their first dance, as Ippolito serenades them with a romantic song and the crowd sings along.
Ippolito also performs at venues throughout New York City, including an annual December performance at Merkin Concert Hall, as well as year-round shows at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia, Symphony Space, The Red Lion on Bleecker Street, and Cast Party at the Birdland Music Club.
Yet it is his own original music that impresses fans from all over the world, who check in on his website’s daily blog: www.thatguitarman.com. There are songs about lost love (“Wedding in Danville,” “Another 15 Years,” “Did You Fall in Love Again,” “Some Wounds Never Heal”); romance (“I Can’t Wait,” “The Perfect Girl for Me,” “Oak Beach Inn,” “You Might be Her”); sex (“Internet Angel”); trust (“Just Hafta Trust Me,” “Tired of Being Lied To”); religion (“The Religion Song”); passing of a loved one (“Here Today”); self-improvement (“Next Time Around”); self-belief (“Don’t Let It Hold You Back,” “When Mary Learns to Fly”); friendship and support (“I Love the Company,” “Crazy on the Same Day”); and self-direction (“Any Other Way,” “Wherever I Might Land,” “Don’t Lose Sight of the Dream”), as well as topics of social conscience (“Where’s the Voice?”, “Common Ground,” “The Last Protest Song,” “Can’t You See?” “Hey American”). Ippolito also writes clever, satirical songs about celebrities (“Tom Cruise Scares Me,” “Free Paris (Hilton)”); politicians (“Don’t Know Palin”); pundits (“Bill O’Reilly: The Big Talking Head”); white-collar criminals (“Where’dat Money Go?”); TV personalities (“A Special Kind of Friendship” about Stephen Colbert, and “Glenn Beck Scares Me”); and obnoxious people (“The Cell Phone Guy: Talk Louder”). “Hermione Got Hot!” is an ode to grown-up Emma Watson and the latest Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows film and “Facebook Is a Stupid Idiot” (subtitled “What the F*#k is Farmville?!”) is a hilarious personal spin on the social media force. His newest song, “Can’t You See?” addresses the growing political divide in the United States.
Ippolito’s performances have been covered many times by the New York Times, the New York Post, The Daily News, Parade Magazine, PBS, CBS-TV, ABC-TV, and WB-11 news. He is also prominently profiled in Following Dreams, a one-hour documentary filmed five years ago and released in 2009 from Iron Zeal Films. It is currently airing nationally on American Public Television. Director Susan Polis Schutz and her crew traveled across the United States and South America to explore the lives of ordinary Americans with extraordinary dreams.
Ippolito’s concerts are a well-known draw in Central Park. However, in 2000, the Parks Department ordered him (and all other musicians in the park) to unplug his small speaker, which led to public outcry and letters to the New York Times by supportive audience members. The current arrangement is that he has to select a month in advance which dates he wants to play, as well as pay for each permit, rain or shine. On the Sunday after the September 11 attacks, approximately 1,000 of his fans filled his guitar case in Central Park with more than $7,000, which Ippolito, the son of a retired New York City firefighter, delivered to Ladder Company 25 and the 9/11 Fund.
I Love the Company
During 2006, Ippolito hosted a daily podcast called “I Love the Company,” which was broadcast globally via Podshow.com. The 365+ podcasts featured new works by Ippolito and music by singers and songwriters around the world, which was joined by an “I Love the Video” videocast.
Playwriting and other work
As an actor, Ippolito has had roles in national TV commercials and musical theater productions. Ippolito’s song, “City Song,” was used to close NBC‘s television coverage of the 2001 New York City Marathon. He has appeared on ABC‘s “Who Wants to be a Millionaire“, winning $64,000. A playwright and storyteller, his work has been performed at The Soho Playhouse and The Actors Studio. Ippolito is currently workshopping his new musical project for the stage, “Possibility Junkie.”
- The People on the Hill (1997)
- That Guitar Man from Central Park…In Person (1998)
- Just a Thought for Christmas (1999)
- It’s Just Us (2000)
- Crazy on the Same Day (2002)
- Talk Louder (the Cell Phone Song) (2003)
- Common Ground (2004)
- I Love the Company (2007)
- Crazy on the Same Day (re-mastered in 2008)
- Wouldn’t Want It Any Other Way (2009)
|Also known as||“That Guitar Man from Central Park”|
|Origin||New York City, New York, U.S.|