Someone was gonna discover Bob Dylan, somewhere.
But as fate would have it, one could argue that Robert Shelton discovered him at Mike Porco's Center of Folk Music. It could have been San Francisco or Los Angeles, but it wasn't. It was at Folk City in NYC's Washington Square. Young Bobby had the chops, he brought his talents to the Village, he received plenty of support from his peers, Mike Porco hired him to play and a star was almost born.
You see, my grandfather first hired him in April of 1961. He was a hit! And he was welcomed to open the shows at Gerde's later that year, a stint beginning on September 26, 1961. He opened for The Greenbriar Boys, but they were not the main topic of New York Times music critic Robert Shelton's review below. The review, which Dylan himself stayed up all night to fetch from the early morning paper delivery, was THE ONE that made him the talk of the town. Fifty-four years later….
|Bob Dylan at Gerde's Folk City|
Folk and Blues in his restaurant on West 4th Street in 1960. It became a good luck venue for aspiring singers and songwriters.
After Shelton's review, Bob Dylan became the toast of the Village scene. He was one of a few musicians to be ''discovered'' at Gerde's. As Bob Dylan's notoriety and career went into the stratosphere, songwriters from all over delivered themselves to Mike Porco's club, hoping to be seen by the critics and music producers looking for new talent.
Mike Porco had to work tirelessly to keep the machine well oiled. Because of it Mike Porco and Gerde's Folk City are being honored as I speak. They are featured in an exhibit on New York and the Folk boom at the Museum of the City of New York because it truly was, NEW YORK'S CENTER OF FOLK MUSIC.
Because the one and only Bob Dylan claimed Gerde's as his turf, the legend of Mike and Gerde's loomed larger than just 'the guy' who owned 'the place' where Dylan started. They were friends and it seems that Dylan went out of his way to help Mike out throughout the years.
Yesterday, I took my daughter to see a Porco honored on the walls of the
Museum of the City of New York.
|My daughter Angelina sees Grandpa at the museum|
|We took the bus downtown to Washington Square|
|Mike, Cisco Houston|
|Bob Shelton (center),|
First high profile review of Dylan, later biographer
|Mike Porco's personal copy, saved in a Gerde's menu holder|
Meanwhile, in other parts of the world…..
Friday brought me to the Brooklyn Americana Folkfest
to see Mike+Ruthy
The weekend culminated in the great
Washington Square Old Time Music and Bluegrass
This is taken very seriously by these historic pickers. It is the only time they get to see each other as in the past.
|Musician, Producer Barry Kornfeld|
|Village stalwart Roger Sprung.|
60 years and counting in the Square
|Legendary Eric Weissberg came to town from Woodstock|
So as you can see: There's something still going on here. Mike Porco would be happy to know that many of his friends are still working and still pickin'. He also would be proud to know that a film is being made on his legacy and his club. POSITIVELY PORCO will make people smile.