Saturday, February 26, 2011


Big Joe Williams was first booked at Gerde's in the fall of 1961. Ever the crowd pleaser, he entertained in the intimate setting with his rousing style fashioned after 40 years on the road. Born in 1903, he was playing traveling minstrel "tent shows" around Mississippi by 1918. He converted his beat up Supertone into a 9 string and played in open G tuning giving him a one-of-a-kind sound. As if all that wasn't unique enough, he added a kazoo for good measure. A most ecstatic Bobby Dylan befriended Joe and sat in with him for almost the entire two weeks. By the end, they were billed as Big Bill and Little Joe.  
Early in 1962, Mike Porco was considering booking him again. By then, Folk City regular Dylan had more than an influential hand in getting Big Joe some work. "He's the greatest old bluesman. You gotta put him in here," he told Mike. 

A three week booking began on 2.20.62 with Zimmy showing up throughout to either jam, listen or, once again, perform onstage during some of Joe's sets. The album BIG JOE WILLIAMS AT FOLK CITY was recorded on 2.26.62.

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