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  Gerde's Folk City - Dylan's First Major Performance Venue and an Icon of the Folk Era.



Gerde's at it's original location at 11 West 4th Street at Mercer Street, Greenwich Village.




Gerde's Folk City (From Wikipedia)


Gerdes Folk City (sometimes spelled Gerde's Folk City) was a music venue in the West Village, part of Greenwich Village, Manhattan, in New York City. Initially opened as a restaurant called Gerdes, by owner Mike Porco, it eventually began to present occasional incidental music.


First located at 11 West 4th Street (in a building which no longer exists), it moved in 1970 to 130 West 3rd Street. It closed in 1987.


On January 26, 1960, Gerdes turned into a music venue called The Fifth Peg, in cooperation with Izzy Young, the director of the Folklore Center. The Fifth Peg's debut bill was gospel folk singer Brother John Sellars and Ed McCurdy, writer of the anti-war classic "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream".


Porco and Young had a falling-out, and on June 1, 1960, Gerdes Folk City was officially born with a bill featuring folksingers Carolyn Hester and Logan English. At this time Gerdes Folk City was booked by a folk enthusiast Charlie Rothschild (who later became Judy Collins' longtime manager) and English.


Gerdes Folk City was suddenly one of the central music venues of the era. It became one of the most influential American music clubs, before finally losing its lease in 1987. "Rolling Stone Book of Lists" called Folk City one of the three top music venues in the world, along with The Cavern and CBGB.


Gerdes was where Bob Dylan debuted "Blowin' in the Wind" and was also the place where Joan Baez and Dylan met for the first time.


On October 23, 1975 at a celebration for Mike Porco's 61st birthday, Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue staged a dress rehearsal and played its first real concert at Gerde;s after it moved to West 3rd Street. The Review began its national tour a week after playing at Gerdes on October 30, 1975.


Folk City helped to launch the careers of several world-renowned musical stars from Bob Dylan to Sonic Youth, and showcased numerous music styles from folk to alternative rock.


Most exterior photos from NYU archives.


(photo: NYU Archives)



(photo: NYU Archives)



(photo: NYU Archives)



(photo: NYU Archives)


The photo most commonly seen in books and online.




(photo: NYU Archives)



(photo: NYU Archives)



(photo: NYU Archives)



(photo: NYU Archives)


From Suze's book: A Freewheelin' TIme - about the loading dock. (from my notes)



From Suze's book: A Freewheelin' TIme



The loading down: now and then.



The building about to be be demolished; 1970.



The interior. It looks like Gil Turner playing, but I'm not sure. (CLICK ON PICTURE TO MAKE LARGER)


(photo by Sam Falk)


If we put Dylan on stage, it would look like this. (CLICK ON PICTURE TO MAKE LARGER)


(original photo by Sam Falk)


The interior, 2.



Jean Ritchie with dulcimer, at Gerde's. Note small stage said to hold only 3 people.



Bob Dylan onstage the night Bob Shelton reviewed him in the New York Times. You can see his setlist taped to the guitar.



Here's a close up of that shot showing the three albums behind him.



The middle album is the Tarriers album, Tell The World About This from 1960.



Here it is larger.



On the left was a John Jacob Niles album from 1957 called I Wonder As I Wander: Carols and Love Songs.



And on the right we find Sonny Terry's 1960 album Sunny's Story.



Dylan onstage at Gerdes a different night, also in 1961. Note exact microphone as in previous shots. Photo likley by Irwin Gooen.



Another photo likely by Irwin Gooen.



The First Performance of "Blowin' in the Wind."

"Bob finished "Blowin' in the Wind" in one sitting at the Commons, a MacDougal Street cafe across from the Gaslight. Later that same evening, he took the song over to Folk City, where, between sets, he played it for Gil Turner, who emceed the club's Monday night hootenannies. Turner was knocked out by it and talked Bob into teaching it to him on the spot. They went over it a couple times in the basement. Then, when the show resumed, Turner taped a copy of the lyrics to the mike stand and announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to sing a new song by one of our great songwriters. It's hot off the pencil, and here it goes." - from DYLAN: A BIOGRAPHY by Bob Spitz, Norton, 1989.


A poster for Dylan playing on a ticket with the John Lee Hooker - April 23, 1961 (from an auction site).



A poster for Dylan playing on a ticket with the Greenbriar boys..



A smaller advertisement reportedly for a concert on September 26th, 1961.



Another poster for the West 4th Street location..



Mike Porco's business card.



Dylan at Bottom of steps to Gerde's basement, 1961



In the basement of Gerde's with Mark Spoelstra, 1961. By Ted Russell.



Another shot of Dylan in the basement of Gerde's with Mark Spoelstra, 1961. By Ted Russell.



Another shot of Dylan in the basement of Gerde's with Mark Spoelstra, 1961. By Ted Russell.



Another shot of Dylan in the basement of Gerde's with Mark Spoelstra, 1961. By Ted Russell.



The interior, as described by Suze Rotolo in her book: A Freewheeling' Time - A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties.



The interior from Suze's book.



Gerdes from 1955. It was 40 feet wide and 80 feet long.



Gerdes in 1938 (NY Municipal Archives).



The Gerdes location in 2004. The Hebrew Union College at the northeast corner of Mercer Street and West 4th Street.



Gerdes suprimposed.



Gerdes suprimposed - From further back.(Click to enlarge).



From the 1961 NY White Pages phone book.



Gerde's moved to 130 West Third Street in 1970 into the space which formerly held Tony Pastor's.



The West 3rd Street location.



The West 3rd Street location.



The West 3rd Street location.



The West 3rd Street location.



An ad for the West 3rd Street location.



On October 23, 1975 at a celebration for Mike Porco's 61st birthday, Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue staged a dress rehearsal and played its first real concert. The Review began its national tour a week after playing at Gerdes on October 30, 1975.

This is from the beginning night of the Rolling Thunder Tour at this Gerde's location. (Rob Stoner, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Eric Andersen)


(photo: Fred W. McDarrah)


The beginning night of the Rolling Thunder Tour. (Rob Stoner, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan)


(photos: Fred W. McDarrah)


The beginning night of the Rolling Thunder Tour. (Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Eric Andersen.)


(photo: Fred W. McDarrah)


Here's a shot of the inside from a later date.



Another crowd shot.



When Gerde's closed in 1987, The Fat Black Pussycat, which at one time had been on Minetta Street, took over the space.



From another angle.



A map of where the original Gerde's Folk City was located.