Sitting in a local winery tonight, listening to local musicians perform their own songs, I was reminded that you never know which of these really talented individuals will continue to entertain their neighbors and which will rise to greater prominence.
How many of the folks in Hibbing, Minnesota, back in the early ‘60s recognized that Bob Zimmerman would someday win a Nobel Prize? We often rub elbows with such folk, and never know it. I have, several times. In 1963, I heard Bob Dylan just as he was becoming Bob Dylan.
“In 1963, Bob Dylan played a club date in Chicago, at a place called The Bear (supposedly owned in part by his manager, Albert Grossman, a Chicago native.) A partial tape of seven songs from the show surfaced many years later, and it’s now been officially released on one of the “copyright extension” sets. During that same visit to the city, Dylan did an hour-long interview/performance with radio host Studs Terkel, which was also included on the copyright set, although it was edited to some degree.” (excerpt from http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/bob-dylan-live-in-chicago-1963-1964.442899/)
As followers of this blog know, I was an engineer at WFMT from 1960 to 1962 and recorded a number of Studs Terkel’s interviews (but not the one with Bob Dylan). I was still an avid WFMT listener in 1963.
One evening I heard an announcement that a new music venue had hoped to open on this night (I don’t remember the night) but their liquor license had been delayed so they were inviting folks to come down to their opening with complimentary soft drinks and free entertainment. The venue (I have forgotten the name, but it must have been The Bear) had several levels, each devoted to a different music style: jazz, gospel, and folk.
As it turns out, the folk opener was Bob Dylan. I jumped in my car and beat it to the place, but there wasn’t much of a crowd. I found myself sitting about 6 feet away from the stage and thoroughly enjoyed Dylan’s early songs, sung by the original early Dylan: Blowin’ in the wind, Don’t think twice, Masters of war, Hard times, and many others, including Boots of Spanish Leather (before it was released on record). I’ve often wondered where the heck that place was, and now, thanks to Hoffman’s site, I know.
I must confess that when Dylan outgrew his folk-music roots, I pretty much stopped listening to him. My loss. Katie and I did go to a concert he performed with Paul Simon in the DC area a few years back, but what I remember most about it was how ear-splittingly and painfully loud it was, and that it took two hours to get out of the parking lot after the concert.
Fortunately, other people continued to listen and to appreciate Dylan’s artistry. Congratulations to America’s new Nobel Laureate in Literature.