John Cohen has done almost everything worth doing, photographer, film maker, musician, teacher. We went to his home in Putnam County N Y for a full afternoon’s conversation. There are 2 podcast that resulted from our extremely pleasant visit.
Here John Is shown on the right with his Old Time Music band The New Lost City Ramblers accompanying Maybelle Carter.
Cohen’s neighbor in first loft on the Lower East side was photographer Robert Frank who’s seminal work “The Americans ” was published while John Lived next door
As neighbors should Robert was kind enough to produce photos for John’s Old Time Music band The New Lost city Ramblers
It’s hard to over estimate the influence of Folkways Records especially “The Anthology of American Folk Music” However well know that is, I do believe the following 4 LPs from Folkways also deserve ” Rosetta Stone” status
If you only get one John Cohen book (not a good idea IMHO) “There is No Eye” is the one to get. This is his first monograph and contains photographs from his days in New Haven, New York’s East Side, Peru, Greenwich Village folk music scene0 and groundbreaking trips to the American South to seek out regional musicians, monumental.
This book results from a session that was supposed to be a dry run for a film sound synch experiment that failed. Both Cohen and Dylan had the good instinct to catch lighting in a bottle. These images capture Robert Zimmerman becoming Bob Dylan, fascinating.
As long as we’re on the subject of Bob don’t miss “John Cohen Here and Gone”, photos of Woody Guthrie, 60’s music festivals, The New Lost Ramblers, what I believe was a cover shoot for Dylan’s “Self Portrait” and a lengthy conversation with Bob that originally ran in “Sing Out”. This book was printed by Steidl
Another masterful printing job by Steidl. Pawn grandfather’s watch to buy this book. Close to time traveling back to the source, the resulting photos from John’s trips to the American South in search of what he called “old time music” and is now called “Americana”. He found it and more. 1963, The High and Lonesome Sound, photos, a CD of audio recordings and a DVD of his film made primarily featuring Roscoe Holcomb. Way too much to take in in one sitting.
“Pull My Daisy” 1959 is a silent black and white film shot by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie from a Jack Kerouac play featuring Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Larry Rivers and others. John Cohen worked on this groundbreaking film which provides a look at The Beat Generation from within
The importance of The Newport Folk Festivals was immense. It began in response to the successful annual Jazz Festivals in Newport, Rhode Island managed by George Wein who recruited Albert Grossman to run the Folk Festival. Careers were started there. Most of the “rediscovered ” country and blues musicians played there. John Cohen and The New Lost City Ramblers played the first Folk Festival. It began in 1959 in “The Casino” now the International Tennis Hall of Fame. This is how it looks today.
As the festival and the popularity of folk music grew the location moved to Freebody Park and the grounds of St Michaels school and for 1965 Festival Field now a housing site.
St Michael’s School today.
Dylan using Joan Baez’s O 45 Martin guitar Performs “Mr Tamborine Man” on the grounds of St Michael’s School at a workshop at the Newport Folk Festival 1964
It’s time for a shout out to our mutual friend Ed Grazda (John Cohen’s friend and photographer of Mr Cohen’s portraits) on the occasion of the publication of his new book, “Mean Streets” photos of New York in the 1970s – 80s. More time traveling.
Much more to be added to this blog soon
Recorded in Kingston N.Y. Part 2 of our conversation with Geoff where he discusses his time in the steel business (go figure?) and return to music recording the wonderful personal C D, “The Secret Handshake” , his 8 year classical music project in Antwerp, “Private Astronomy, the C D that features his arrangements of classic Bix Beiderbecke tunes, The Roots of Geoff Muldaur a project that now numbers 8 C Ds of material (the actual source recordings) that have inspired Geoff. Let’s hope the notes for this project will become an autobiography and trips to Japan that result in The Martin Guitar Co. producing the Geoff Muldaur Model Martin Guitar. If you caught SLN podcast #16 we know you’ve been waiting for part 2.
Bix Beiderbecke has been a favorite of Geoff’s since Boyhood. Private Astronomy his arrangements of Bix’s original piano and other compositions that Bix recorded in his lifetime. In this podcast Geoff discusses Bix, the hand picked musicians and the recording process for this C D.
A wonderful C D personally recorded by Geoff an absolute must. I think he actually likes this one
This really belongs in the blog for podcast #16 but I just came across this copy of the L P by Better Days Geoff spoke of in glowing terms in that podcast It includes their version of “Walking Blues” and “Highway 28”
We sit down in Kingston, N Y with Geoff and have a far ranging conversation on all things musical. We get into his early fascination with Blues and Jazz recordings accompanied by his friend Joe Boyd and Joe’s brother Warwick. Geoff’s involvement with the Cambridge scene including his time with the famed Jim Kweskin Jug Band. Geoff and his wife of the time Maria’s 2 L Ps followed by his time in Woodstock as vocalist for Paul Butterfield’s band Better Days. Just too much to list here plus there will be a part 2 podcast #17.
Geoff with his Geoff Muldaur model Martin in Kingston Sept 2017
If you have fond memories of The Jim Kweskin Jug Band (most of us do) then Jim and Geoff’s newest C D release “Penny’s Farm” is an absolute delight. Jim and Geoff both vocalize and play guitar all tunes sometimes aided by Cindy Cashdollar on steel guitar, Suzy Thompson on Fiddle among others with Van Dyke Parks adding Accordion to Bobby Charles “Tennessee Blues”.
Geoff Disparages his first L P, “Sleepy Man Blues” for Prestige claiming “I wasn’t ready”. Don’t listen to him. As Richard Thompson says”There are 3 great white blues singers and Geoff Muldaur is 2 of them” He’s already doing it on these early recordings.
Here’s the L P that started the ball rolling for Jim Kweskin and the rest of the Jug band. Geoff Muldaur’s arrangements and performances were a key to this L P’s lasting appeal
Another trip down memory lane. Albert Grossman saw fit to move The Jug Band from “Folkie” label Vanguard to Reprise the happening record company out of L.A. “Garden of Joy” was their first L P for the label.
If you have a Spotify account you can play complete versions of all the tunes referenced in Geoff’s podcast. Click on any tune to play on your device.
Geoff and his wife Maria released 2 L Ps for Reprise “Pottery Pie” and ” Sweet Potatoes” seek them both out. Maria then hit with “Midnight at the Oasis” produced by Geoff’s long time friend Joe Boyd featuring Amos Garrett one of the great Telecaster players. The boys were then turned loose “In the musical candy store” for “Geoff Muldaur is Having a Wonderful Time” the participating musicians on this is L P is staggering
Throughout our interview reference is made to Geoff’s long time friend, Joe Boyd. We highly recommend Joe’s book , “White Bicycles” It’s a great read. He has lead an amazing life in music. That’s Geoff and Maria among others on the cover.
In pt.#2 Alderson discusses building his own studio, RLA Sound on W. 65th St in NYC with backing from his friend Harry Belafonte. He produces ground breaking free jazz from the likes of Sun Ra and many others for the ESP label.
Always on the cutting edge of audio technology Alderson uses A P I solid state amplifiers (precursor to Melcor Amplifiers), faders in his stand up board, speakers of his own design, sticks with the Altec 1567A for mixing and mic preamps and an early Ampex 1″8 track tape machine.
He has a hit with Johnny Nash “Hold me Tight” recorded partially in his studio and partially in Jamaica.
Alderson scores another hit L P with the Pearls Before Swine’s “One Nation Underground” which is about to be rereleased by Drag City on vinyl and other formats with the original Mono mix restored by Richard.
The quality of Alderson’s recording of the 1966 Live tour is an acknowledged fact. Nevertheless CBS decides to send another recording team to record 3 of Dylan and the Band’s shows. When CBS finally releases as Bootleg Series #4, the “Judas” Manchester Free Trade Hall show, erroneously known as The Royal Albert Hall Show for years, they choose Richard’s 2 track recordings from the P A microphones because they sound better than the 3 track tapes their recording team produced. You can hear the difference in “Visions of Johanna”. Ricard’s tape ran out on the phrase “my conscious explodes” the next line is “The harmonica’s play…”( at 20minutes 37 seconds running time in Podcast #15). The difference in sound is obvious. The acoustic guitar becomes “boomy” and Dylan’s voice becomes distant. Once again, thank God for Richard and his recordings.
We recommend Robbie Robertson’s book “Testimony.. a good read
Here is the 36 C D box set that Richard Alderson recorded in 1966 on tour with Bob and the Hawks. You need to get it while you can
We can’t go any further without acknowledging the many contributions of our recording engineer, Mike Crehore who has been present for all of the SLN podcast recordings. Mike is front and center on this podcast contributing his knowledge of audio recording to the discussion with Richard, much appreciated Mike.
We do hope you have enjoyed our conversations with Richard Alderson. There is so much more to his story much of it yet be written. We eagerly await listeningto his new projects and hope to get him back for more stories.
For years mystery and rumors have surrounded the 1966 tour of Bob Dylan and The Hawks (soon to become The Band) bootlegs continually surfaced most often of the “Judas” concert mislabeled “The Albert Hall Concert” actually recorded at The Free Trade hall in Manchester England. Unknown to almost everyone Bob Dylan decided to have most of the concerts recorded by the audio engineer, Richard Alderson who Albert Grossman had commissioned to build a portable sound reinforcement system for the tour. Dylan had problems with the sound of electric accompaniment since his infamous concert at The Newport Folk Festival the previous July of 1965. Richard Alderson recorded almost all of the concerts and delivered the tapes to Bob after the tour where they were placed in the Columbia Records vault and forgotten. In 2016 Sony Legacy woke up and realized what they had and released a 36 CD box set , “Bob Dylan The 1966 Live Recordings”.Sidetrack Liner Notes is pleased to explore the story of these recordings and much more of Robert Aldersons story to date.
Richard on the right. Not every science guy in high school went on to tour with Dylan.
Spotify Playlist for #14
Richard lived in the heart of Greenwich Village at the height of the 50s-60s folk music scene as well as Jazz and comedy acts that were playing a proliferation of clubs at his doorstep
He was asked to install a sound system for The Gaslight one of the premier clubs on McDougal St.
Richard used this sound system to record 2 nights of performances of Bob Dylan performing some of his original material for the first time now known as “The Gaslight Tapes”.
Many bootlegs and copies of copies of these tapes have been released over the years but look forward to a new C D this year of a proper release from the Richard’s original recordings.
We fast forward to 1965 when Bob decides to add electric instruments to his act. The new “electric” recordings are well received but reaction to the live shows is mixed. Nevertheless Bob recruits a Canadian band, The Hawks plays some shows in the U. S. and prepares a “World Tour”. Albert Grossman, Bob’s manager commissions Richard Alderson to build a portable audio system and hires him for the entire tour. The following is a film put together by Sony Legacy to support the 2016 release of the 36 C D box set of the recordings Richard made of these shows “Bob Dylan The 1966 Live Recordings.”
Brisbane Australia, early in the tour: L to R; Richard Alderson, Unknown, Robbie Robertson, Unknown , Bob, Richard Manuel
Later in the tour below Mikey Jones, Bob, Robbie Robertson
You knew this was coming. Here is a rundown of the gear Richard used for the house sound (PA) and to make the recordings.
Microphones: Sennheiser 405 for Bob’s Vocals, Electro Voice 666 for guitar & bass amps, Piano,Organ & Drums, Neumann U-47 for drum overhead (cymbals) no direct feeds, all acoustic
Mixer: a pair of Altec 1567 A, Vocal Limiter: Teletronix LA-2A
Amplifier; 3 McIntosh 275, Stage Monitors: 2 Altec 604
House Speakers (PA): 4 Klipsch La Scalas, Recorder: Nagra III B
May 24, ’66,Bob sitting on a Fender speaker cabinet backstage at L’Olympia with Francoise Hardy holding a copy of James Brown’s LP “Think”. She I believe is sitting on one of the road cases made for Alderson’s audio equipment. A drum case for Mickey Jones can be seen as well as a stack of Fender guitar cases in the back.
©Barry Feinstein MOJO 5/08
The Offending Instruments probably shot at the same time as the above shot.
©The Bootleg Series Vol. 4, Sony Legacy
J.J. best known as the lead guitarist for Twisted Sister regales us with tales of his mis-spent youth and musical journey to date. prepare to be entertained.
The Pinkburst Project
Uveitis is an eye disease which J.J.’s daughter Samantha suffered from. To raise awareness and money to fight the disease J.J. commissioned a unique collection of guitars and amps which were successfully auctioned off. His passion for guitars and amps guided him in selecting the brands and models chosen for the project.
A Gretsch 6120 and a Vox A C 30
A Gibson Les Paul Standard
48th St unfortunately is in the rear view mirror now but not too long ago it was lined with music stores a veritable “field of dreams” for musicians. J.J. remembers the Gretsch White Falcon at $600. as the most expensive guitar in the windows.
Spotify Playlist for this episode
Middle 1950’s model
Early 60’s model
In 1972 The Rolling Stones toured with Mick Taylor on guitar. Did they ever sound better live?
J.J. recounts the seeing the 3 Madison Sq. Garden shows. Here are some shots from the same tour but in San Francisco at Winterland June 6.
Subscribe to Sidetrack Liner Notes on I Tunes to get the rest of J.J.’s podcast soon to be posted as episode #13. He doesn’t let up.
11: Terry Foster, all things Fender
Author and Fender historian Terry foster sits down to discuss some of his findings and a review of the early history of Leo Fender’s electric instruments.
Terry along with Martin and Paul Kelly authored this beautiful homage to Leo Fender’s company.
The Radio Shop guitar. Leo and Doc Kaufman’s first guitar
K & F amp. Note finger jointed cabinet. It is assumed that Doc got the tool for this process when he and Leo parted amicably
Fender Electric Instrument Co’s first line.
L-R: Princeton Steel and Princeton Amp, Deluxe Steel and Model 26 Amp and Organ Button Steel with Pro amp
Direct String pick up description from a copy of 1947 catalogue 151-A
Young Mr Hayzlett seems justifiably pleased with this drying rack of Champion lap steels awaiting their MOTS pearloid covering at the original Fender plant Santa Fe Ave. in Fullerton. This photo indicates the level of Fender’s production before the introduction of the Broadcaster.
Leo Fender was a legit fan of Western Swing music. He supplied many of Southern California’s top bands with instruments and amplifiers. They in turn gave him valuable info concerning the function and reliability of his gear. Leo Fender did not play guitar so their feedback was crucial to improving his products.
Note “boxcar” pickup on Leon’s triple neck, same as K&F lap steels
Herb’s triple neck features the trapezoid pickup
Spotify playlist for this episode
The California Playboys were a local Southern California Western Swing band that Leo Fender supported with equipment and kind attention foreshadowing the importance of teenage musicians to The Fender Co. Video produced in Fullerton 2012
Where would we be if Richard hadn’t written & published this book ?
Bury yourself for a few weeks in Tom Wheeler’s most excellent “The Fender Archives”
Setting up up for a future SLN podcast where Terry will discuss Leo’s creation of the first commercially successful solid body electric guitar, The Broadcaster which will become the inimitable Fender Telecaster. Several musicians will emerge as important: Merle Travis and Les Paul.
photo courtesy Rockabilly Hall of Fame
Les Paul at home in Mahwah N.J early 80s with adolescent photo of himself as “Rhubarb Red” Same harmonica, rack and Gibson guitar.
I know you enjoyed Pt. 1 of our conversation with guitar wizard Mr Scipio. Pt 2 may be even more entertaining so go to I Tunes and navigate to Sidetrack Liner Notes podcast #10.
My first notice of Ry Cooder was the amazing film “Performance” staring Mick Jagger, James Fox and Anita Pallenberg with a sound track under the direction of Jack Nitzsche. One of the great soundtrack albums featuring Randy Newman, Mary Clayton, Jack’s future wife, Buffy St.Marie and Ry Cooder. His slashing slide guitar was all over this soundtrack but especially on “Memo From Turner” with Mick Jagger on lead vocal.
Ry Cooder live at The Ritz NYC early 80s.
Chicken Skin Music and the follow up album Showtime proved he was more than a studio slide guitar ace which of course he was.
1981 Lindley’s first of 3 albums with his band El Rayo-X sure to get the party started
David Lindley at NYC’s The Bottom Line
Do yourself a favor and get the DVD of Joni Mitchel “Shadows and Light”
Just how good is your sound system? Doesn’t matter the music is great Jaco is just outstanding on this.
Flip produced Bigsby equipped Telecasters for Bruce to use on The Rising tour.
Robbie McIntosh with the results of guitar hunting while touring with the Pretenders in the USA. Studio shot NYC early 80s. He later toured with Paul McCartney when he contacted Flip for work on a Guild guitar which eventually led to Flip working on Paul’s original Honer bass.
Paul’s Hofner bass at a photo shoot in London for The Guitar Collection book with John Hammel
A Pauls’s eye view of his Hofner
This Hofner is just the kind of guitar that Flip loves to set up to play like the Strat of your dreams
Don’t miss a visit to Flip’s website: http://www.flipscipio.com/
9: Flip Scipio pt.1
If you live or have come through New York and take your guitar playing seriously you probably know the name, Flip Scipio. Flip was born in Holland, studied lutherie in London and came to the U.S. in the middle 80s. His first 2 years were with The Guild Guitar Company then in Rhode Island. In 1988 he began a 7 year stint at Staten Island’s renowned vintage instrument dealer, Mandolin Brothers where he gained first hand knowledge of anything with frets that was worth maintaining. When you’ve handled everything you fear nothing. He currently works out of a magnificent industrial loft in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn which he shares with a wife, Mitzi who restores and binds rare books. We joined him here for Sidetrack Liner Notes Podcast #9 & #10. Flip is such an entertaining speaker that he could have a career in stand up. However, there would be a long line at his door in Bushwick in need of his guitar wizardry. Imagine the following who’s guitars he’s worked on lined up at his door: George Benson, Edie Brickell, Jeff Bridgers, Jackson Browne, Larry Campbell, Jim Campilongo, Rosanne Cash, Shawn Colvin, Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan, Tony Garner, Mary Halverson, Norah Jones, Patty Larkin, Will Lee, Adrian Legg, John Leventhal Paul MaCartney, Marc Ribot, Carly Simon, Paul Simon, Slash, Bruce Springston, Leni Stern Stephen Stills, Suzanne Vega, Tony Visconti, and Rufus Wainwright. You get the idea. So settle down for a very informative and entertaining listen.
Paul Simon’s Guild F-30 at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
© The Guitar Collection Book
© The Guitar Collection Book
Spotify Playlist for SLN Episode #9
Vintage DeArmond pickups T-B: RHC-B, 2000B Dynasonic, 1100
Hawk Equalizer/distortion device of the type possibly used by Rory Gallagher
1952 Les Paul Standard with Trapez bridge (strings under)
1954 Les Paul Standard all gold finish
1950s Les Paul Standards Neck angle compared
Current Flip Scipio Steel string guitar modeled after Oliver Ditson
Cindy Cashdollar on a Marc Simon Terraplane resonator guitar
8: Dan Erlewine pt. 2
We continue our conversation with master guitar repairman, Dan Erlewine. He shares some tips on acoustic guitar buying and set up. He discusses some novel inventions of his own like “The Rocking Chair” a piece of furniture that holds your guitar while you sit on it, folk art for sure and capos that screw right into the neck of his guitars.
© photos courtesy Dan Erlewine
Great stories about musicians he knows and shows he’s
seen. Not to be missed.
Eric Clapton with Cream, First appearance at The Fillmore San Francisco August 1967 playing his Gibson SG painted by “The Fool”. The Prime Movers, Dan Erlewine’s band opened one of Cream’s shows that week.
Jimmie Rodgers 00-18
©The Guitar Collection Book
Used on The Bristol Sessions with Ralph Peer with the handwritten date 8-4-27 of his session
©The Guitar Collection Book
Junior Wells and Buddy Guy on Delmark Buy this record.
Magic Sam also on Delmark
Michael Bloomfield will take you to school for the Blues
Check out the current Fretboard Journal # 37 for a very nice series of recollections of Michael by those that knew and played with him by John Kruth.
L-R Tom Erlewine, Dan Erlewine , Tom Crandall at T R Crandall Guitars NYC 10/16
Sidetrack Liner Notes Podcast #7 Dan Erlewine
It is with pleasure that we welcome Dan Erlewine probably best known as the voice and face of Stewart MacDonald supplier of all things needed to keep our guitars happy. Dan’s roots are deep going back to the folk boom days of the late 50s through The Prime Movers Blues Band in San Francisco in ’67, editing a column for “Guitar Player” for 15 years and now editing “Dan’s Guitar Rx” for “Vintage Guitar Magazine” In his years on the guitar trail there isn’t much he hasn’t seen, played and probably fixed. His knowledge and love of guitars, music and musicians is front and center in podcast #7 & #8.
Like many of us The Kingston Trio were the entry point for Dan. He refinished his first guitar to make it resemble one of these Martins
Freddie King’s LPs were a huge influence on guitarist on both sides of the Atlantic.
In 2015 Mike Bloomfield’s ’63 Telecaster surfaced in Dan’s shop which set off a scramble to authenticate it. See G.E. Smith’s reaction to this guitar in the previous blog about Bob Dylan. Here is Dan’s video about refretting this guitar.
Albert King with “Lucy” The Flying V Dan made for him.
©Paul Natkin Photo Reserve
Jerry Garcia playing the custom Strat Dan built for him.
Dan’s home movie of Jerry receiving the Strat Dan built for him.
Bob Dylan, An appreciation
The Nobel Prize for literature was awarded to Bob Dylan in October 2016 for his entire body of work. His music and career having meant so much to a lot of us, a bit of review seems appropriate at this time.
Bob Dylan came to New York in the winter of 1961. To appreciate what he has accomplished to be worthy of the Nobel prize for literature this Fall it’s helpful to know how fast he moved and how much he evolved. I was first aware of Bob through the small publications emanating from New York covering the folk music scene. ” Broadside” and “Singout”began to write about Bob before he recorded his first album which was released in March of ’62.
Broadside #27 June ’63
N Y Times 4/13/’63
It is interesting to note that Israel Young owner of Mcdougal Street’s Folklore Center and promoter of one of Dylan’s first concerts commented in his “Frets and Frails ” column in the Dec-Jan. ’62 “Sing Out”: “Bruce Langhorne will accompany Bob Dylan on his new album. Other surprises will be a bass and a set of drums”
By August of ’63, Bob had become such a fixture on the topical /folk song scene that he performed at the March on Washington along with Joan Baez and Peter Paul and Mary.
Bob Dylan Spring 1965 Raleigh, N.C.
Joan Baez together with Bob Dylan ’65
William Neal Reynolds Coliseum
However he soon chaffed at the confines of topical/political songwriter and embraced more personal songwriting and a wider musical pallet only possible performing with a band.
Newport Folk Festival July 25, 1965. Bob goes Electric.
The ’65 Stratocaster the Bob played at the Newport Folkfsetival July of 65.
The other Fender at Newport that year.. Mike Bloomfield’s ’63 Telecaster.
While working on Photos of this Telecaster I was asked by the editor of Vintage Guitar Magazine, Ward Meeker To write an account of my recollections of Dylan’s appearance there.
Bob goes electric. What happened at Newport ’65
So you want to know what happened at The Newport Folk Festival July 25th 1965. Well I was there and I’ll tell you what I know but I’m not sure it will answer your question.
First a bit of background. For a generation of music lovers raised on the first blush of Rock and Roll (Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Elvis, Ray Charles etc.) the late 50s were a let down filled with manufactured sounds that engaged neither your body or mind. Folk music arose as the intelligent and engaging listening choice. It was enormously popular in the late 50s early 60s, guitar centric in the extreme.
Social activism was woven into the music and the audience providing a strong sense of community.
The Folk music boom (or Folk scare as Matt Umanov refers to it) was really a marketing conciet. Teenagers were not experiencing folk music first hand from their grandmothers or local communities but from their new stereos courtesy of 33 1/3 LPs.
Newport R.I. had had success with it’s annual summer Jazz festival and decided to add a Folk Music Festival starting in 1959. This became the annual gathering of the fans, performers, managers, scenesters and some actual FOLK. By 1965 it had become a 4 day event of multiple small daytime workshops and evening concerts on a big stage like todays outdoor festivals.
Bob Dylan was without question the crown prince of the folkies. In his short career since arriving in Greenwich Village in January of ’61 he had mastered the traditional repertoire to be a throughly convincing and engaging solo performer. Not satisfied he added his own lyrics to traditional folk melodies to create timeless anthems but he wasn’t about to stop there. At an afternoon workshop at Newport ’64 he performed “Mr Tamborine Man” which indicated a deepening and more personal type of song from him. In march of ’65 Dylan released “Bringing it all Back Home” his groundbreaking LP which featured electric instrument on half of the songs.
By July of ’65 the stage was set for a quantum leap. The Beatles had reinvigorated popular music co-oping classic rock and roll and infusing it with a wit and intelligence that had been missing. Folkies were starting to look seriously at the electric guitars and amps when they went to get strings for their D-28s, J-45s and long neck Vegas. Greenwich Village ex folkies, The Loving Spoonful released “Do you believe in Magic”. Blues master John Hammond’s coffee house set featured covers of Chuck Berry and Bo Didley along with his Robert Johnson covers and Dylan’s own “Like a Rolling Stone” was on AM radio and already in the charts. Couldn’t they see it coming ?
The Chambers Brothers and the Butterfield Blues band both performed at The Folk Festival in ’65 as full electric bands but were unknown to the majority of attendees who had come to see Peter Paul and Mary, Joan Baez and of course Dylan. At the Sunday afternoon Blues Workshop, Alan Lomax disrespectfully introduced the Butterfield Blues Band. Albert Grossman, the Blues Band’s manager (and Dylan’s) objected and the two festival executives got into a scuffle rolling in the dirt in front of the small stage as Butterfield Band including Mike Bloomfield played like they owned every club on Chicago’s south side. Dylan waited behind Butterfield draped over the fence in full Carnaby Street drag, Wayfarers and polka dot shirt. Members of the Butterfield Band were in the pick up band for Dylan’s sound check and that evening’s concert. Yes things were starting to get interesting at Newport.
The crowd filling into the Sunday night concert was enormous impatient to get to their seats anxious the see their favorites with little interest or curiosity in acts like The Moving Star Hall Singers who’s images and music were unknown to them. Suddenly midway through the concert Bob Dylan was on stage black leather jacket, orange shirt, Beatle boots with a Stratocaster so new it was painful to look at except that it was SOOOOO COOL and Mike Bloomfield with that Tele, to put it simply WAS LOUD. Not just “no one at this point knew how to mix sound for a rock band” loud, Bloomfield was Blowing Down the Gates of Heaven LOUD. Dylan lead his band sharply through 3 song’s with imperious attitude, snarling and spiting his vocals inviting scorn. “Maggie’s Farm”, “Like a Rolling Stone” and “It Takes a Lot to Laugh. It Takes a Train to Cry” were the only tunes they had hastily rehearsed the night before in one of Newport’s “cottages” No soothing “Blowing in The Wind” or “Don’t Think Twice” The tunes went by in a mad crush of volume and scrambled lyrics. People went nuts. Then suddenly the band left the stage with the audience “all shook up”. Peter Yarrow of PPM the Concert’s MC implored Dylan to return solo with an acoustic guitar borrowed backstage which he did. The first song was “Mr Tamborine Man” and finally,“It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” which might as well be the instruction manual for the cultural revolution about to break over the confused audience. He was in their faces for the entire performance challenging them to dig deeper, to not take the easy path. Personally I thought it was great.
Were they booing? I’d say baying was more like it. They wanted more or they wanted something else or they didn’t want to be dragged kicking and screaming into a more authentic and complicated future. The oil on troubled waters was Mel Lyman playing “Rock of Ages” or was it “Amazing Grace” repeatedly as everyone filled out from the Festival to face a new future full of unknowns but possibilities.
I was there and that’s what I saw and heard. You tell me if they booed?
Bloomfield and Dylan Newport ’65 unknown photographer
I think I’ll have to end the narrative here. You could fill a very interesting bookshop with books about Dylan so there’s much more to this story as you probably know. In summation, I’ll quote singer songwriter Steve Earle who said to me last week when I asked him about the awarding of the Nobel prize to his friend. “Bob is responsible for raising the craft of songwriting to that of literature.”
Andre Duchossoir’s 1982 English edition of “Gibson Electrics” was kerosene on the fire of guitar collecting. His accurate writing and the brilliant layout set the bar for all that followed to emulate. How Andre’ born and living in Paris, France was able to do this is one of the questions that will be answered in his interview that makes up these 2 podcast. He has continued to publish a series of books. 1983 “Guitar Identification Fender, Gibson, Martin”, 1988 “The Fender Stratocaster”, 1991 “The Fender Telecaster”, 1994 “Gibson Electrics The Classic Years”, 2009 “Gibson” Electric Steel Guitars” and to date 3 issues of “Vintage Vertigo”. For the last 35 years, anyone interested in vintage guitars has been effected by his work.
Andre while researching his books for Fender became so involved with the resurrection of the Fender brand that it provided him a unique insite into that chapter of this vital American guitar manufacturer. This is another of the fascinating tales he tells in these podcast.
2 Formative records for Andre’
Pages from the Olympia program 1964