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He unexpectedly walked into almost empty Gaslight Cafe' on a quiet late Summer Tuesday night, about 15 months before that recording.
Seen some mighty good live performances. But this? This, was order of magnitude beyond any solo vocal & guitar set I've witnessed before or since. We loved open mic night as the Gaslight. Never knew who would show up to play. No beer, hard stuff or any other consciousness altering substance was in us. Without any idea of what was to come, slowly moved our way forward to capture the 2 chair front table. 10' from the small stage.
Dylan walked in, going directly to the performers table, next to the stage. He chatted with Dave van Ronk for a few minutes. Even shot a soda straw at the waitress' posterior. She later told us he'd been up 18 hrs straight & was running on pure adrenaline.
He then picked up Van Ronk's epic 1952 Gibson J-200 & sat behind the mic, directly facing us. Point blank range. What followed was the closest thing to a super natural musical experience I've ever had. Wave after wave of the spectacular fireworks of visionary genius flowed into us for nearly an hour. It changed me & how I heard music forever.
Actually played the very same guitar in Van Ronk's Greenwich Village apartment less than 2 yrs. later. Was almost afraid to touch it the vibs were still so powerful.
Gaslight was way WAY cool. Saw Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, Eric Anderson, Jack Elliot, Holy Model Rounders, Buffy St. Marie, Patrick Sky, Dave van Ronk, and Simon & Garfunkle (their first public performance when they were still students at NYU) there. That's just off the top of my head. Probably forgetting some worth mentioning. Living in central N.J. & college at Rutgers, New Brunswick campus, northern N.J. Gaslight was hang out of choice for my close circle of young professional acoustic solo performing musicians.