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Bob Dylan in New York City Bob Dylan in New York City
by The Ovi Team
2018-04-11 08:16:20
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bob01_400April 11th 1961; Bob Dylan got his first real chance to put those on display with his first major gig in New York City, opening for bluesman John Lee Hooker at Gerde’s Folk City.

Bob Dylan had just arrived in town a few months earlier, but as the prominent producer/talent scout John Hammond would write in the liner notes of his debut album one year later, “The young man from the provinces began to make friends very quickly in New York, all the while continuing, as he has since he was ten, to assimilate musical ideas from everyone he met, every record he heard.” Dylan befriended not only his idol Woody Guthrie—whose hospitalization in New Jersey had been the initial impetus for Dylan to come east from Minnesota—but also some of the significant figures on the burgeoning Downtown folk scene, like Jack Elliot and Dave Van Ronk. Dylan would write about this period in “Talkin’ New York” (1962), which included a verse about his breakthrough gig at Gerde’s:

After weeks and weeks of hanging around

I finally got a job in New York town

In a bigger place, bigger money too

Even joined the Union and paid my dues.

Gerde’s was probably the most important folk-music venue in New York City at the time—the club that every folk act with a national profile played when they were in town. Dylan had previously joined other unknowns like himself onstage at Gerde’s during the club’s Monday “Hootenanny Night,” but the invitation to appear on a regular bill presented a bit of an administrative problem.

At just 19 years old, Bob Dylan was too young to obtain the necessary union card and cabaret license. One of the clubs owners, Mike Porco, was interested enough in getting the young man on the bill, though, that he signed on as Dylan’s guardian—”the Sicilian father I never knew I had,” as Dylan put it.

A number of major developments in the year that followed would set Bob Dylan on his road toward stardom, but the very first of those was his appearance at Gerde’s Folk City on this day in 1961.

 


  
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