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    Bob Dylan 1961 Gerde's Folk City Handbill, Opening for the Greenbriar Boys An original paper concert flyer featuring Bob Dylan opening for a bluegrass act when he was still a 20-year-old unknown. The gig was at Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village, New York, a two-week engagement spanning September 26 through October 8, 1961. And what a fateful engagement for Dylan's career this turned out to be.

    Anyone who knows early Bob Dylan history knows that his life changed forever when music critic Robert Shelton of the New York Times wrote a glowing review of Bob's performance at Gerde's in the fall of 1961. Dylan had no manager to speak of, no record label, had just arrived in the Big Apple a few months earlier and was scratching around Greenwich Village coffee shops playing basically for tips.

    He had opened for John Lee Hooker at Gerde's back in April. Then this opportunity presented itself in the early fall: an opening slot once again, but not for a blues legend; he was supporting a bluegrass outfit, the Greenbriar Boys. Nonetheless, it was a paying gig, and good exposure. As he soon found out.

    In the September 29, 1961 edition of the New York Times, Shelton's review of this flyer's opening night was a publicist's dream, and yet it all came from the heart, based on what he had witnessed. Get a load of this:

    "A bright new face in folk music is appearing at Gerde's Folk City. Although only 20 years old, Bob Dylan is one of the most distinctive stylists to play a Manhattan cabaret in months.

    "Resembling a cross between a choir boy and a beatnik, Mr. Dylan has a cherubic look and a mop of tousled hair he partly covers with a Huck Finn black corduroy cap. His clothes may need a bit of tailoring, but when he works his guitar, harmonica or piano and composes new songs faster than he can remember them, there is no doubt that he is bursting at the seams with talent.

    "Mr. Dylan's highly personalized approach toward folk song is still evolving. [He] is vague about his antecedents and birthplace, but it matters less where he has been than where he is going, and that would seem to be straight up."

    Wow, right?

    How could Dylan possibly sleep the next few nights?

    This was it. This was it. His career was launched, as of this moment.

    Columbia Records producer John Hammond surely took note, and before you could say "boo," Dylan was in the studio. He officially signed with Columbia exactly one month after this flyer's opening night: October 26, 1961. But three days after opening night, the very day Shelton's review appeared, Dylan was already in a Columbia studio playing harmonica for Carolyn Hester on three tracks. From this moment onwards, the wind was at Dylan's back.

    The flyer itself is a charming collector's item, with Mr. D being the fifth of five musicians named. Blues musicians Lonnie Johnson and Victoria Spivey (another Dylan associate of the time), David Gude, the Greenbriar Boys and "the sensational" Bob Dylan are all in bold letters. Lots of fun, charming wording is used on this, in a stylized hand that's so much more compelling than simple type.

    We've attached a photo of Dylan on stage during this very engagement, taken on October 3 at Gerde's. It is shown only for context, it is not a part of this lot (and is just a digital image anyway). Now you know exactly what he looked like.

    You might have seen our 1962 pink Gerde's Folk City handbill for Dylan elsewhere in this auction. Dylan's girlfriend didn't hesitate a moment to quote Shelton and the New York Times in calling Bob "bursting at the seams with talent." Well... these are the shows he was referring to. The very genesis of that famous quote, which launched a legend... whom many people consider the greatest single songwriter of the 20th century.

    Measures 8 1/2 x 11" and in Very Good Plus condition with toning in the bottom left corner and small spot of loss in the upper right corner. This is the very first time Heritage has had the pleasure of offering this rarity for sale. COA from Heritage Auctions.


    More Information: Dylan biographer Clinton Heylin reports a number of songs that Dylan performed during this two-week stand of two shows per night. The list reads like an inventory from Dylan's early bootleg recordings that have filled Great White Wonders for the last 50 years. At different points Bob performed "Song to Woody," "Talkin' New York," "Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues," "House of the Rising Sun," "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," "San Francisco Bay Blues," "Ain't No More Cane," "Dink's Song," "He Was a Friend of Mine," "Pretty Boy Floyd," "Sally Gal," "Gospel Plow" and "900 Miles." Among many others.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2019
    16th-17th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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