Hall Of Fame: 51st Anniversary of Bob Dylan’s NYC Debut at Gerde’s Folk City

Bob Dylan with Joan Baez (National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images)

Bob Dylan with Joan Baez (National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images)

Today, April 11th, is the 51st anniversary of Bob Dylan‘s New York City debut at Gerde’s Folk City.

Gerde’s Folk City was a performance venue in the West Village of NYC throughout the ’60s, ’70s & ’80s. Although it first opened as a restaurant, called Gerde’s, it eventually began to offer it’s patrons some live music. Gerde’s was located at 11 West 4th Street (the building no longer exists!), having moved in 1970 to 130 West 3rd Street before finally closing in 1987.

Today, we honor Gerde’s & Bob in our Hall Of Fame!

gerdes poster Hall Of Fame: 51st Anniversary of Bob Dylans NYC Debut at Gerdes Folk City

Bob Dylan dropped out of college at the University of Minnesota at the end of his Freshman year. In January of ’61, he traveled to New York City hoping to perform there and visit his musical idol, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Woody Guthrie[/lastfm]. Beginning in February of 1961, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Bob Dylan[/lastfm] played at various clubs around Greenwich Village and in September, he gained some public recognition when a positive review of one of his performances at Gerde’s showed up in The New York Times.

Bob played his first pro gig at Gerde’s Folk City on April 11th, 1961, supporting [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]John Lee Hooker[/lastfm]. Gerde’s was also where Dylan debuted his song “Blowin’ in the Wind” and was also also the place where he and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Joan Baez[/lastfm] met for the first time.

NEXT PAGE Listen To Joan Talk About Meeting Bob @ Gerde’s

Here’s Joan Baez talking about her pal Bob…

Part 1

Part 2

NEXT PAGE Listen To Bob Performing LIVE @ Gerde’s

Audio from Gerde’s Folk City, New York, April 1962

Many musicians who formed contemporary music’s foundation performed at Gerde’s. [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Doc Watson[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Simon & Garfunkel[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Peter, Paul & Mary[/lastfm] all performed early in their professional careers at Gerde’s, and Peter, Paul & Mary’s first official performance as a trio was at Gerde’s.

Gerde’s is the place where so many of our iconic ’60s folk-rockers and ’70s singer-songwriters first found their voices. Throughout it’s history, soon-to-be stars such as [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Janis Joplin[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Jimi Hendrix[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Mamas and The Papas[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]the Byrds[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Lovin’ Spoonful[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]the Youngbloods[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Emmylou Harris[/lastfm] (who also waitressed at the club), [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Joni Mitchell[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Judy Collins[/lastfm] and many other well-known names have performed there.

NEXT PAGE Gerde’s Folk City Goes ’80s & Beyond…

Suzanne Vega

Photo by Mike Flokis/Getty Images

In the 1980s, Gerde’s, under new management, introduced a new breed of musicians and expanded it’s boundaries to a wider range of rock music, especially alternative music featuring [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Sonic Youth[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Yo La Tengo[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]the Smithereens[/lastfm], the [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Violent Femmes[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]the Replacements[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]10,000 Maniacs[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Husker Du[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]X[/lastfm] and many others. A new wave of singer-songwriters also found a home at Gerde’s during this time. Small time acts like [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Suzanne Vega[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Shawn Colvin[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Lucinda Williams[/lastfm]!

But Gerde’s wasn’t just about music, comedians also performed at the club:  From Martin Mull to Andy Kaufman, Chris Rock, Richard Lewis, Jim Belushi, Steve Buscemi and more.

In 1985,  a 25th Anniversary Benefit Concert, which was part of NYC’s Summer Concert Series, was held and  immediately sold out. Unfortunately, the club lost its lease and closed in 1987. The former owners, however, have continued to produce concerts and performances around the country over the years, featuring Gerde’s alumni alongside new artists.

Were YOU at Gerde’s? Who did you see? What was it like? Tell us all about your Gerde’s Folk City experiences in the comments section below!

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