Sunday, February 6, 2011
Yet another first at Gerdes'
Fifty years ago today: according to Clinton Heylin's book Stolen Moments, February 6th 1961 was the Monday where Bobby Dylan played the Hoot for the first time. Back then, everyone was a complete unknown and had to draw a number from the hat to determine the order of appearance on the famed stage. At some point later on, Folk City employed using a numbered deck of playing cards face down to figure out pecking order. The peformance rule for Hoots....rarely followed to the letter...was 3 songs or 15 minute time limit, whichever came first. With chatty musicians and the potential for relentless story telling through song, it's no wonder the Hoots started early and needed a savvy emcee to herd the cats on and off.
Bobby would end up doing consecutive open mics at Gerdes well into March. By then, he had befriended one Dave Van Ronk and wife and talent promoter Terri Thal who had Mike Porco's ear enough to encourage him to sign the kid up to be billed at least for an opening act. That would come later on April 11th. In the meantime, this Dylan kid's name had been circulating around the square. The applause meter in Mike's head probably told him that he just may have the goods. And if you had the goods, odds were, you drank at Folk City for free after a time. I've been told that well-liked musicians' money was no good at the bar. I'm sure that sat well with Zimmy.
Dylan would later be discover'd here at Gerdes' and it became the ideal place for him to showcase his new material and even rehearse. And did I mention drink for free???