Jon Pankake, Bob Dylan, and the NLCR

by

 

Ralph Rinzler, Bob Dylan, John Herald at the Gaslight 1962 © John Cohen

edited from http://www.folkworks.org/

[Jon Pankake co-edited the music journal The Little Sandy Review in the early 1960s in Minneapolis, MN]

When Bob Dylan left Dinkytown, the Minneapolis neighborhood where he spent his one year at the University of Minnesota,, for New York City’s Greenwich Village, he went with Jon Pankake’s blessing. He also went with some of Jon’s most precious records-which he stole right off the shelves and put in his duffel bag. When Jon discovered the theft of his records he became enraged at this hobo vagabond minstrel and vowed to track him down and recover them.

Fast forward six months and Dylan was now sleeping on someone else’s couch-the Mayor of Greenwich Village. That would be Dave Van Ronk. Jon Pankake showed up at his door and when the purpose of his surprise visit became known, all hell broke loose. Pankake broke a bottle off at the neck and started swinging it over his head, aiming at the scruffy ne’er do well who had since become the talk of the town-based on his performances at Izzy Young’s Folklore Center and Gerdes Folk City, where he was now opening for the likes of Mississippi John Hurt and the new bluegrass sensation-the Greenbriar Boys. That didn’t mean squat to Jon Pankake-he came to get his records back.

It was just at that precipitous moment for modern folk music history, ladies and gentlemen, that Dave Van Ronk showed up, diffused the situation and saved Bob Dylan’s life. Jon got his records back, and a chastened Bob Dylan went on to write Blowing In the Wind and Masters of War, for which I think Van Ronk deserves no small credit. The records Jon Pankake retrieved from Dylan’s duffel bag were the first Folkways recordings of The New Lost City Ramblers, which he rescued and took back to Dinkytown.

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One Response to “Jon Pankake, Bob Dylan, and the NLCR”

  1. REED MARTIN Says:

    New Lost City Ramblers Historical Trivia Dept……

    Our town, Cabin John, Maryland, is located just outside of Washington, D.C.
    One passes through the lovely area known as Glen Echo, crosses over the 1860s single span stone arch bridge known as “The Union Arch Bridge” and arrives in our small community. The town Community Center used to be the first building on the right….it was torched many years ago….in earlier years there were many dances and social events held there. One time a fellow in the military brought his fiddle to play for some function, and a fellow brought his guitar. They were Tracy Scharz and Mike Seeger. They decided to start performing together and added a friend or two – and called themselves “The New Lost City Ramblers.”

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