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It was April 11, 1961. Bob Dylan had arrived in New York City three months earlier and quickly left a lasting impression on the folk community of Greenwhich Village. At the young age of 19 Dylan had attracted a significant following that soon landed him an opening gig with John Lee Hooker at Gerde’s Folk City.
At the time Gerde’s was the most significant folk-music festival in the city. It was a favorite among nationally-recognized folk-artists who were passing through New York, and over the years helped launch the careers of many musical artists including Elvis Costello, Janis Joplin, and Simon & Garfunkel.
Dylan’s brief set there, where he also met Joan Baez for the first time, was so well received that he returned to Gerde’s five months later. His follow-up performance received a highly favorable review from the New York Times and attracted the attention of producer John Hammond, who signed Dylan to Columbia records and produced his eponymous debut album the following year. In a brief matter of time Dylan had already been put on path to superstar success, and it all started at Gerde’s Folk City.
Celebrate Bob Dylan’s landmark performance at Gerde’s Folk City with us today at 5PM at WERS!