Bob Dylan Center Acquires Early Dylan Recordings -
Bob Dylan Center interior

Bob Dylan Center interior

Bob Dylan Center Acquires Early Dylan Recordings

by Paul Cashmere on November 18, 2021

in News

The Bob Dylan Center has acquired some early Dylan recordings ahead of its official opening in 2022.

The three-storey Bob Dylan Center is in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The center will house a permanent exhibition of over 100,000 Dylan artifacts including handwritten manuscripts, notebooks, and correspondence; films, videos, photographs, and artwork; memorabilia and ephemera; personal documents and effects; unreleased studio and concert recordings; musical instruments, and many other elements.

New to the Bob Dylan Center, the library now owns:

The Madison Tapes unearth Bob Dylan performances on two open-reel audio tapes recorded at the apartment of folk and blues musician Danny Kalb in Madison, Wisc., circa winter 1960¬–1961, while Dylan was making his way from Minnesota to Greenwich Village. Approximately 90 minutes in length, the first tape captures the 19-year-old Dylan performing more than 20 songs, including six Woody Guthrie tunes and classics by Jimmie Rodgers, the Stanley Brothers, Little Walter, Pete Seeger and Big Bill Broonzy.

The proceedings were recorded by musician Jeff Chase.

Revealed on a second reel is the Madison Party Tape, a home recording of Dylan and friends performing folk songs at a social gathering, also recorded circa winter 1960–1961. The recordings found on both of these tapes bring clarity to what had been a critical gap in Dylan’s history, shedding important light on his development as an artist.

The Bailey Tapes consist of more than a half-dozen previously unknown and largely unheard open-reel tapes recorded in New York City in 1961 and 1962 by noted folk and calypso enthusiasts Milton (aka “Mell”) and Lillian Bailey. The Baileys, whose apartment at at 185 3rd Street served as a sort of salon for the vibrant Greenwich Villagefolk music scene, acted as documentarians of one of the most critical moments in US popular music history. Along with recording intimate private parties that attracted the likes of Bob Dylan, Paul Clayton, Cynthia Gooding, Bruce Langhorne, Ian and Sylvia, Dave Van Ronk, Tom Paxton, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, they captured and preserved pivotal radio broadcasts from New York City stations WBAI and WRVR.

Included in these recordings is a Bob Dylan performance from autumn 1962, in which the young artist sings the earliest known renditions of his compositions “Oxford Town” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” as well as the July 29, 1961 “Saturday of Folk Music” hootenanny at Harlem’s Riverside Church, where Dylan first met girlfriend Suze Rotolo who appears on the cover of the classic The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album.

The Toni Mendell Tapes represent the first complete extant recording of Bob Dylan performing at Carnegie Chapter Hall on Nov. 4, 1961. This concert was the first major solo performance of the young singer’s career, organized by Folklore Center proprietor Izzy Young shortly after Dylan signed to Columbia Records. Within two years he would headline the main stage at Carnegie Hall.

This complete concert tape contains seven songs that have never been in circulation, including “He Was A Friend Of Mine,” a different arrangement of which would show up on the artist’s debut album in 1962.

The Bob Dylan Center will open in May, 2022.

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