Friday, March 18, 2016

Another Feature of This Year's Duluth Dylan Fest: Rare Photos and Documents from a Private Collection

About a month ago we posted a tentative outline for events to be held during Duluth Dylan Fest this coming May. The Duluth Dylan Fest is rolling in fast, and some of this year's new events are looking to be exceedingly special. One of these is a collection of rare documents and photos that will be on public display at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum. Some, if not many, have never been seen before. It's a truly remarkable gift to the Dylan fans who visit here to celebrate Bob's 75th birthday the last week of May.

The source of this generous contribution to this year's Dylan Fest is the Bill Pagel Archives. Serious Dylan fans have been long acquainted with his BobLinks website which gathers and shares Dylan concert reviews, setlists and links from nearly the beginning of his touring career. (Eager to learn where Dylan will be next, visit

I first learned of the site when I posted a Dylan concert review on my own website in 1998 and it turned up there afterwards. In addition to being a collector, he is also a historian and researcher, though no real collector worth his salt is going to collect without a deep understanding of valuations, thus requiring that one become a dedicated researcher. His enthusiasm for collecting all things Dylan garnered him chapter one status in David Kinney's The Dylanologists.

Celebrations will be occurring in various locations in various parts of the world that week, no doubt. (I just received notice of a 75th birthday party in Oregon, for example.) The fact that this is Duluth's native son makes this event unique in many ways. If you join us, here are some of the places you may wish to visit as seen in a clip from the Smithsonian on How Robert Zimmerman Became Bob Dylan.

One highlight for many will be the time spent at Karpeles. Here are a few of the items you might enjoy.

Sheet Music for Chimes of Freedom with Dylan’s writing over the music 1964
Written over the sheet music for the song, Dylan signs and dates, doodles, and quotes part of one verse of Chimes of Freedom, which appeared on Another Side of Bob Dylan

Newspaper Advertisement for Golden Chords first paid performance 1958 
Robert Zimmerman had a music group while in Hibbing called the Golden Chords. This newspaper advertisement is from their first paid gig. It was at the National Guard Armory building in Hibbing, MN. The Golden Chords were comprised of Monte Edwardson on guitar, Leroy Hoikkala on drums, and Robert Zimmerman (Dylan) on piano. They played during the intermission of a sock hop. The performance took place Saturday, March 1st, 1958.

1965 Dylan Acetate Recordings 
Unlike ordinary vinyl records, which are quickly made by a mass-production molding technique, an acetate disc is created by using a special machine to cut the groove into the surface of a special lacquer-coated blank disc. This is a real-time operation requiring expensive equipment and expert skill for good results. They are made for special purposes and almost never for sale to the general public. They may have been used as "demos" of new recordings by artists or record labels, or simply to allow the artist to bring the recording home to listen to.

Camp Herzl photographs 1957
Early teenage photographs of Bob Dylan are very scarce. Here are two photographs of Robert Zimmerman during his visits to Camp Herzl in Wisconsin.

A teenage Robert Zimmerman attended Camp Herzl, near Webster, Wisconsin during the summer. The first photograph, taken in June of 1957 at Camp Herzl, shows a young Zimmerman holding a guitar, and to the left and right of him two life-long friends. Also pictured are Paul Black, who is furthest to the back in the photo. Farthest to the right is Dave Unowsky. We are looking to identify the person farthest to the left in the rear.

Dylan’s first solo concert flyer Nov. 4th, 1961
Before recording his first album in November of 1961, Dylan played in coffeehouses and clubs around the village. This flyer is from Dylan’s first solo New York concert. Izzy Young, owner of the Folklore Center, promoted the show and lost money on this venture. Bob performed the show at Carnegie Chapter Hall on Saturday November 4th, 1961.

Robert Zimmerman on motorcycle with Dale Boutang 1956  
Dale was “the best rider in Hibbing, a cowboy on wheels and a seasoned weight-lifter.” Dylan and Dale are pictured here with Boutang’s Harley 74, 1956. The photograph was taken by Beatty Zimmerman, Bob’s mother, in front of the Zimmerman home at 2425 E. 7th Street in Hibbing, Minnesota.

* * * *

And this is only the beginning. The rarest I am not even permitted to talk about.
To stay current with announcements and dates, visit the Duluth Dylan Fest Facebook Page.

Photo Credits
Top Right: Dylan portrait by local artist Moira Villiard
Lower Photo: Mural in Haight-Asbury district, circa 2008

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