A great piece of early Bob Dylan concert memorabilia in the form of a 1963 Newport Folk Festival concert poster, the weekend that many say made Bob Dylan a star.
This 9 x 24-inch advertising piece was printed in green and purple ink on white paper, a perfect size for putting on poles and squeezing into narrow spaces on cluttered bulletin boards.
Noted folk musician and graphic artist Eric Von Schmidt designed this Bob Dylan Newport Folk Festival placard, and his artist’s signature appears at the top alongside the purple hat.
It’s a fun, irreverent drawing, with a happy person up top spreading his arms as if to welcome all attendees to the weekend’s events.
But the musicians are the thing on this Newport Folk Festival broadside; 40 of them are listed, and another 30 played but weren’t included on the poster.
Their names are divided up evenly amongst four colorful ovals; three evening shows and the Sunday daytime matinee, which appears as the last oval, out of chronological sequence.
And then there’s a light purple stripe down the left side of this Bob Dylan Newport Folk Festival window poster, which proclaims, “plus 20 Morning-Afternoon Panels and Workshops,” at least one of which Dylan attended.
The motion picture “Festival!,” available on DVD, documents this weekend well, and shows Dylan playing both on stage and in workshop situations.
The big-artist highlights of this Newport Folk Festival concert placard would be, oval-by-oval: Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys and Doc Watson in the top green oval;
Judy Collins, John Lee Hooker, and Doc Watson again, in the second (purple) oval;
then the third (green) oval of this Bob Dylan Newport Folk Festival appearance poster lists the Queen of Folk Music at the time, Joan Baez, plus Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Pete Seeger;
and the final, purple oval – for the daytime show – includes Dave Van Ronk, John Hammond Jr. and Ian & Sylvia.
Other musicians appearing on this 1963 Newport Folk Festival telephone-pole poster include Helene Baillargeon, Jean Carignan, The Freedom Singers, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry, Raun MacKinnon, Jean Redpath, Clarence Ashley, Theodore Bikel, Jim & Jesse, Bessie Jones & The Sea Island Singers, Kiva American Indian Group, Jean Ritchie, The Tarriers,
Sam Hinton, Mississippi John Hurt, Tex Logan, the New Lost City Ramblers, Frank Proffitt, the Rooftop Singers, Maybelle Carter, Mac Wiseman, Paul Clayton, The Dillards, Bernice Johnson, Mike Settle, Jackie Washington and Ed McCurdy. Whew!
For collectors, there are other items of Bob Dylan Newport Folk Festival concert memorabilia that you can collect, including mailers, handbills and ticket stubs. They’re around; you just have to look hard.
But for me, nothing beats this advertising poster. It just captures the spirit of the weekend and the naivete of the times before big business took over. Would you believe that each performer was paid only fifty dollars? (Plus they were given food, lodging and expenses.)
I think Von Schmidt’s Newport Folk Festival show card far outstrips the ones designed for the following two years, which Dylan also appeared at… 1964 and ’65.
Those two, which I’ve also video-blogged on my site, were plain and simple by comparison. They’re monochromatic in appearance, are the standard 14×22-inch cardboard, and have extremely limited artwork.
So this is the Bob Dylan Newport Folk Festival concert announcement to have, IMHO. You also have the strong factor of innocence… he went into this weekend little more than a cult figure, but emerged as a star, especially with Peter Paul & Mary having his “Blowin’ in the Wind” in the national Top 10 right now.
Just two years later, Dylan would plug in his electric guitar at Newport and blow everyone’s minds, single-handedly creating the folk-rock movement that dominated the mid-’60s pop music scene.
When you see a Newport Folk Festival pole poster as attractive as this, it’s easy to forget that it was created to live for just a few weeks. It was probably printed in June, and most were thrown away in August. Isn’t that amazing?
Now, over half-a-century later, music collectors such as myself covet such items, as they’re so effective at invoking the feelings of nostalgia surrounding our favorite music from the distant past.
Maybe Von Schmidt had this in mind as he designed his Bob Dylan Newport Folk Festival street sign. He must have figured that some people, perhaps the 40 musicians themselves, would’ve kept one for posterity.
Maybe the estates of all the deceased musicians still have one. Hopefully they’ll realize the collector’s cache attached to such items, and either keep them or move them along to someone who cares – like us!
This Newport Folk Festival window card is enthusiastically shown to you today by Peter J. Howard, a leading Dylan authority who’s been quoted in books, DVDs and other media re Dylan’s history and impact. That’s me, and I can be contacted using firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling up (805) 540-0020.
As a serious Dylan collector since the early 1970s, please be aware that I pay the highest prices in the hobby, period, for vintage Bob Dylan concert memorabilia and advertising materials.
To see a few more compelling Bob Dylan vintage advertising posters, just visit this Dylan-only page on my extensive hobby web site: http://www.postercentral.com/bobdylan.htm