Just round about now, about a
fortnight before the day, I start to wish that we hadn’t got into all
this. Now, I’m a good sleeper: nothing much disturbs my peaceful
nights so when I wake at 2am with an image of Keith Agar appearing
ghostlike on my bedroom ceiling I immediately know that things aren’t
quite what they should be in that tiny corner of my brain that keeps the
bubble smack bang in the middle of my cerebral spirit level.
I have completed my part of the
task: the advertising has been done; the Traders and the speakers have
been booked; the tickets have been printed and all sent to the correct
recipients: the data base (with an abundance of thanks to Marilyn) looks
like a work of art; the programme has been designed (with an abundance
of thanks to Jess) and is ready for collection. After six months of hard
graft I can take a breather. So why do I find it so hard to breathe at
2a.m. when my body should be getting massive doses of sleep therapy? The
problem is that so may things could still go wrong: the main attraction
booked for the event may just not turn up; the sound equipment may fail;
the hotel could be burned to the ground a few days before D-Day; I could
go down with flu etcetera, etcetera.
My main area of concern however
centres on our fabulous Master of Ceremonies Keith Agar. There is only
one Keith Agar and if our habitat was the jungle instead of East Anglia
I would be an ant and Keith would be an elephant. Yet therein lies the
problem for you don’t get too many elephants in the jungle and Keith
frightens the life out of me when he disappears for a few days just
prior to an event. Has he chickened out? Has he left the Country? HAS HE
DIED? So much depends on Keith that the entire day would be disastrous
without him and I have 2 a.m. visions of crowds of people requesting
refunds, angry faces at my window; ruin on my doorstep.
So, for any relief from all this
stress, I have to look a lot closer at that image of Mr. Agar that
appears ghostlike on my bedroom ceiling at 2 a.m. And what do I actually
find there? The real, reliable Keith with a broad grin and a firm
welcoming hand. The Keith who has never, ever, either in Cambridge or in
Northampton, let us down and the Keith who has single-handedly turned so
many average occasions into unforgettable events. And there is usually
something else behind that image of Keith: another smile of another
face. The face of John Green himself telling me not to be so bloody
stupid and that nothing matters anyway. Apart, of course, from a Dylan
ticket, a Bacardi and coke and a jiffy bag to keep it all in.
So I have a restless moment and
then I go back to sleep in the blissful knowledge that it will be
alright on the night. But, hold on a minute, what if the hotel fucks up
the catering arrangements or has booked the wrong people into the wrong
For those who wont be able to make the day, the following are the contents of the programme. Here’s hoping for an event that will match the magic of the first two. I’ll let you know.
introduction and opening by your Master of Ceremonies for the day, Keith
Talk by Andrew
Muir, well known Dylanologist, author of the Dylan book ‘Razors
Edge’ and editor of Judas! magazine. Andrew’s new book
‘Troubadour’ will be published on the day of the event.
‘Will You remember Me
At All?, a quiz organised and presented by Ged Keilty.
Talk by C.P.
Lee, a Freewheeler, a respected Dylanologist
and author of the
popular Dylan books ‘Like The Night’ and ‘Like A Bullet of
Light’. C.P.’s new book ‘Shake Rattle and Rain’ has recently
been published and will be available on the day.
An afternoon session
with Carolyn Hester, talking
about the early folk days.
A panel discussion
chaired by Derek Barker.
Included on the panel will be Jeff
Stevens who gave a talk at last years event.
At 7pm the raffle will
be drawn and the ticket prize winner will be announced.
The first of the
evenings live music with the wonderful Dylanesque
performing from their extensive repertoire of Dylan covers.
Performance by the band
Cold Overture. This young and
energetic band will be again
be bringing to the house
their own highly charged music.
The highlight of the
evening’s entertainment with a set from the American folk icon Carolyn
Formal closing of the
day by Keith Agar.
Free for all hootenanny
by any one who wants to get involved. If you’ve got a song to sing, we
want to hear it!
any young wannabe it is simply a matter of getting yourself into the right
place at the right time. If you have a worthy talent you will get noticed
and the rest should follow. It certainly worked that way for a 20 year old
Woody Guthrie wannabe from Minnesota who had so much talent that, one day,
he would be able to stop the world from spinning.
All he needed was that right place and that right time and, of
course, a friend to lend a helping hand. The 20 year old wannabe from
Minnesota was lucky for he got two bites at the cherry and each right time
that he found himself in the right place, the same friend was there with
that helping hand.
first right time was in August 1961 and the right place was a folk
gathering at the popular Club 47 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The friend
of the wannabe, an established folk performer, invited him up on stage in
the middle of her set and gave him the chance to showcase his talents. The
20 year old got up on stage and sang four songs. For some of his audience
the world just stopped spinning during that brief performance and when he
finished, they came to realise that the world wouldn’t spin in quite the
same way again. He had been set on his way.
second right time was far more important. It was a few weeks later, in
September 1961 and the right place was an apartment on West 10th
Street, New York. That same friend of the wannabe, the established folk
performer, was rehearsing songs for her new album and she invited him
along to the apartment to play some backing harmonica. What made the
occasion so important was that an influential, and indeed legendary,
record producer just happened to be in the same place at the same time.
The magic then happened again because, after he had heard the wannabe
play, the influential record producer was so knocked out by the obvious
talent that, so rumour has it, he offered the 20 year old a recording
contract on the spot. The rest, as they say, is history.
let me add some flesh to the bare bones of these anecdotes. Let me say
that the influential record producer was none other that John Hammond
Senior; the wannabe was none other than Bob Dylan and the friend with the
helping hand was none other than Carolyn Hester. It wouldn’t be true to
just blame these incidents on mere simple twists of fate: in those early
folk days there was a strong link between Bob Dylan and Carolyn Hester.
in the 106th issue of ISIS some 41 years later, the Dylan
historian John B. Way reminded the magazine’s readers of the link
between Dylan and Carolyn Hester. John was in fact reviewing the recently
surfaced Westinghouse Broadcasting television programme from 1963 in which
both performers appeared. John had this to say about Carolyn Hester:
‘Next up is another singer who has strong links with Dylan – Carolyn Hester. Born in Waco, Texas in 1936, and a distant relative of ex-President Lyndon Johnson, she was brought to Columbia records by John Hammond and, to compound the parallels with Dylan's story, this was after a rave review by Robert Shelton in The New York Times following her first New York concert! But not before she had made her first eponymous LP for Pat Clancy’s Tradition label (sleeve note by Stacy Williams alias Robert Shelton – another parallel!). The story of her second eponymous LP, with Dylan, is well known by now and its importance to Dylan’s subsequent career cannot be overstated’.*
It is with some great delight then that on this Third Annual John Green Day we are able to renew that link from the past and see Carolyn Hester perform at a gathering of Dylan folk. We are very grateful indeed to Carolyn for agreeing to appear at the event and we have now doubt that, at some point during her performance she too will be able to stop the world from spinning. We wish Carolyn well for the remaining shows on her UK tour.
extract from ISIS 106 is reprinted here with the kind permission of Derek
Freewheelin’ would like to thank all those taking part in the Third Annual John Green Day. We certainly couldn’t have done it without you.
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