Recording of Bob Dylan at Brandeis discovered

Musical icon's 1963 concert was part of a folk music festival

A section of the album cover.

A long-unknown recording of Bob Dylan performing at a Brandeis folk music festival in 1963 will be released next week -- with a catch.

You can’t buy just this recording – it’s a bonus for people who use to make an advance purchase of the Dylan Bootleg Series Vol. 9 or The Original Mono Recordings before next Tuesday.

Jeff Rosen, a New York City-based representative of the iconic poet-musician, said that the bonus deal was set up to promote sales of the latest in the Bootleg series, and that the Brandeis performance would be available for purchase singly in January.

The Brandeis concert took place on May 10, 1963; it was scheduled for the Ullman Amphitheater, as reported in the April 30, 1963, edition of The Justice:

"Friday evening will again feature two events: the Poses Symposium on Contemporary Art and Criticism, and the opening concert of the Brandeis Folk Festival. Both events are set for 8:30: the latter, which will be held outdoors in the Ullman Amphitheater, or in the Shapiro Athletic Center in case of rain, will feature the following performers: Bob Dylan, one of the new and most exciting blues performers; Jean Redpath, foremost singer of Scottish ballads, Don Stover and the Lilly Brothers from West Virginia and Boston's Hillbilly Ranch; Jesse Fuller, who described himself as ‘the last great vaudeville artist’ and who delighted an audience at Cholmondeley's in October; and the silver leaf Gospel Singers."

There is an indication on the tape -- an announcer's reference to the concert being in the gym-- that it might actually have rained and forced relocation of the festival.

And what, Brandeisians of today might ask, is the Ullman Amphitheater? It was a covered space, open on the sides, on the slope between the new Shapiro Science Center and the Bernstein-Marcus administrative complex. That's where graduations were held until the early 1990s, when the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center replaced it.

The recording was "discovered" by Jeff Gold of  and Toby Gleason as they sifted through a massive music collection in the basement rooms of Gleason’s family home. Gleason’s father, the late Ralph J. Gleason, was the first fulltime jazz and pop critic at an American newspaper, and was co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine. He was early to recognize the significance of Dylan, Lenny Bruce and Miles Davis, and was close to many of the musicians of the 1960s and 1970s.

After Ralph Gleason’s death in 1975, his family preserved what Gold describes on his blog as “a vast archive of records, magazines, newspapers, posters, press materials and all kinds of ephemera,” but allowed a few pieces to be purchased by music cognoscenti – of whom Gold was one. When Gleason’s wife died in 2009, a decision was made to sell the family home, and Gold was offered a much broader chance to make purchases.

Here, in part, is how Gold describes the discovery on the blog post:

“For two or three days, Toby and I explored the deep recesses of the home's multi-room basement, which was filled with magazines, records, newspapers and reel to reel tapes. When we came to the wall of tapes, we discovered many labeled ‘Bob Dylan.’  Gleason had been one of Dylan's early and most vocal supporters, and became close to him…. Toby and I agreed that since we didn't know what was on them, I'd take them back to Los Angeles and listen…. The first time I went to the studio, I brought a few of the tapes I thought most promising. One was labeled only ‘Dylan Brandeis’ in light pencil on the edge of the box. We ‘put it up’ on the machine, the playback started, and I was blown away. Superb quality--obviously professionally recorded -- early Dylan, singing and playing wonderfully. And a recording I'd never heard of -- and was pretty sure was unknown (which it was.)  Over the next few weeks, I listened to many many hours of Dylan tapes, and of course, everything else had been released or bootlegged, save for a tape of a press conference from Austin, Tx. in 1965. Still, after all these years, to find an unknown Dylan tape, and one this good -- I was astounded.”

The songs recorded at Brandeis were: "Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance" (incomplete), “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues," “The Ballad of Hollis Brown," "Masters of War," "Talkin’ World War Three Blues," "Bob Dylan’s Dream," and "Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues."

Categories: Arts, General

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage