Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan plays the harmonica and acoustic guitar in March 1963 at an unknown location. (AP Photo)

In the summer of 1960, my then fifteen-year-old father, Cleve Pettersen, went to Radio Shack and bought one of the first commercially available, portable reel-to-reel tape recorders. The thing was the size of a small ottoman and weighed about as much as a boulder of the same dimensions. It cost $50, which is over $400 in today’s economy, so not an insignificant purchase for a fifteen-year-old. My dad had befriended a precocious kid from his neighborhood, Bil Golfus, who had inserted himself into the Dinkytown coffeehouse music scene. He’d tagged along on a few of Golfus’s outings, crossing paths with several musicians, including “Spider” John Koerner, Tony Glover, and the late Dave Ray, who banded together to release albums under the name “Koerner, Ray, and Glover.” Inspired by the field work of John and Alan Lomax, who traveled the South recording and preserving American folk music for the Library of Congress in the 1930s and 1940s (they famously installed a “state-of-the-art” 300-pound wire recorder in the trunk of their Ford sedan), Dad resolved to record some Dinkytown performers for posterity. Alas, none of the musicians in the scene felt inclined to indulge a fifteen-year-old aspiring archivist, with the exception […]

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