Meet Bob Dylan at Gerde’s Folkcity 11 W 4th St

My name, as written in my Swedish passport, is actually Johan Torsten Gerde. My great grandfather Jon Taraldsen Gerde came from Norway to Sweden in 1835. Another Gerde opened up a bar in Greenwich Village, Manhattan in the 1950s which eventually became a meeting place for local folk artists, like Pete Seeger.  The guy in charge, Mike Porco saw that ”something was blowing in the wind” when he invited a young Robert A Zimmerman from Minnesota to perform in 1961. I found this on Wikipedia:

Bob Dylan played his first professional gig there on April 11, 1961, supporting John Lee Hooker. Logan English was instrumental in securing Dylan his first appearance. His widow Barbara Shutner said:

”My husband Logan English and I met Bob Dylan at Bob and Sid Gleason’s house… One night we were all sitting around and Woody [Guthrie] said something like, ”Play something” to this kid sitting on the couch. The kid was Bob Dylan, and he sang and it was just beautiful. So Logan said, ”I’m working at Gerde’s. I’m the MC. We’ll get you to play there.” So that Monday night, Bob came in and did his first set.”[4]

Dylan’s September 29, 1961 appearance was reviewed in the New York Times[5] by Robert Shelton, after which Dylan’s reputation was made.[6] 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. The Review began its national tour a week after playing at Gerdes on October 30, 1975.”

Well, as a young teenager and a big fan of Bob Dylan, I read this is astonishing story about Gerde’s Folk City, Mike Porco, his former manager (who the Swedish Academy probably tried to locate a couple of weeks ago in the fall of 2016 when they couldn’t find Bob Dylan to announce that he had been awarded the Nobel Price of Literature). I decided to travel to Gerde’s Folkcity and see if I could get a chat with Dylan’s former manager and figure it who of my former Gerde relatives went to the US with this brilliant idea to open up the place where my super hero started his carrier.  With a good Manhattan map from the Swedish public library of Nynäshamn, I was finally able to find the street address 11 W 4th Street. The year was 1979. Mike was not there.





Gerde’s Folk City a 11 W 4th Street

They had change the venue to another address, 130 West 3rd Street, and that’s the place where I met Mike Porco. I was so nervous, probably the same kind of feeling in 1961 (the year I was born) when Dylan played at Gerde’s, see below from that concert in September 1961, when he was ”discovered”. I entered the bar and I asked for Mike Porco.

-It’s me, says the guy in the bar.

-Hello, I’m Johan Gerde 🙂

-Yes, and what??

-Well, I’m very curious to hear the story about Gerde who in fact is the person behind ”Gerde’s Folk City”. Mike invited me to have a drink and we were sitting for some time where he generously told me about the place and what he believed was a Dutchman with that very name, but he wasn’t sure. Anyhow, at that very moment it didn’t matter, because I was sitting with Bob Dylan’s former manager Mike at Gerde’s Folk City.

The rest is history..ha, ha…

@gerde’s folkcity; @bobdylanatgerde’s folkcity; @gerde; @mikeporco; @johangerde; @bobdylan










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