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Dylan In Pictures: Newport 1963


Photographer Rowland Scherman went to the Newport Folk Festival only once, in the summer of 1963. He went up for the weekend, in between days working for the Peace Corps, with a couple Leica cameras and no press pass. And he happened upon a 22 year-old Bob Dylan in a transformative moment. Scherman thinks the changes to folk music which the '63 festival wrought won't happen again soon, both because that was an exceptional time in history, and because the chances of someone as genius as Dylan getting up on stage anywhere this year are slim. He spoke to me about the stories and shots he brought back from the trip he made to, basically, chase Mary Travers. —Frannie Kelley, NPR Music

Folk music was at its zenith in those days. The Kingston Trio and Peter Paul and Mary were selling more records than anybody else. And then Dylan came along. And then when the Beatles came along in '64 it sort of changed the direction. So folk music I don't think ever got any bigger or more important to the American music public than it did in 1963. Folk music was the music. That was the time. Everyone started getting guitars and it sort of set the stage for rock 'n' roll. Because everyone had a guitar already.

That seminal moment at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival, Dylan went from zero to hero in the course of a weekend. I was crazy about Mary, of Peter, Paul and Mary, so I took the weekend off from my Washington job and came up to Newport to the Folk Festival and hung out, waiting to see her. The very best music I heard all that weekend was Paul doing the sound check. Peter was at the sound board, and Paul has the voice of a male angel. God, it was so good.

Anyway, it was all at the Newport tennis club in those days, and there were a bunch of cats standing around, four or five guys, and I went over to them. One of them had a bullwhip around his shoulder, and it was the young Bob Dylan. I was shooting with a wide lens, and I got this portrait of him — of this kid with a bullwhip around his shoulder. And it was Dylan.

I thought it was a fashion statement for the longest time, but I heard from someone not too long ago that he and the Farinas and Baez were all pals, and they were playing cowboy that week, and they all had whips. But Dylan was the only one who wore his like a fashion statement. It's a terrific snap of him — you don't see Dylan smiling that much — but there he was, the young guy.

Pretty soon I was standing around talking to them. Later on that day, they had workshops, and Dylan had one of the workshops, so we sat up there at the tennis courts and sang a couple of his songs. There was a crowd of maybe 60 or 100 people. And then Joan Baez sat in with him, and all of a sudden the crowd was two or three hundred people. It was all his stuff, and she was singing the harmonies to them. Fabulous stuff. The crowd got bigger and bigger, and everyone was enthralled. It was because if Baez is singing with this guy, he must have something.

Astounding access one could have in those days. They didn't throw you out for taking pictures — they wanted you to take pictures. I was a working photographer. I was the photographer for the Peace Corps at the time, but I wasn't a member of the press, and I didn't have a press pass. But I had two or three cameras and everyone assumed I was a professional. I couldn't have been closer to him. I could have leaned over and asked Joni to hold my camera while I got the shot. I was sitting in their laps shooting away, crawling around the stage and all. I was terrifically young and slender and cute in those days.



July 26, 1963 Newport Folk Festival.

Backstage and afternoon workshop


1. North Country Blues

2. With God On Our Side (with Joan Baez)


Bob Dylan (vocals, acoustic guitar)


Joan Baez (vocals, acoustic guitar)


above photos of Dylan backstage courtesy of David Gahr

above photo courtesy of Rowland Scherman


above photo courtesy of David Gahr


above photos courtesy of Rowland Scherman


above photo courtesy of David Gahr




above photo courtesy of David Gahr




above photos courtesy of Rowland Scherman




July 26, 1963 Newport Folk Festival.

Evening Performance



Talkin’ World War III Blues

With God On Our Side

Only A Pawn In Their Game

Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

 Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)





above photos courtesy of Rowland Scherman



July 26, 1963 Newport Folk Festival.

Evening finale.



1. Blowin' In The Wind

2. We Shall Overcome (trad.)

Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar) with Joan Baez,


Freedom Singers:

Rutha Harris, Bernice Johnson, Charles Neblitt,

Cordell Hull Reagon, Pete Seeger, Paul Stookey,

Mary Travers, and Peter Yarrow (shared vocal).

above photo courtesy of Rowland Scherman

photo courtesy of Dick Waterman


July 27, 1963: Newport Folk Festival.

Freebody Park, Lawn of Newport Casino,

 Topical song workshop



Who Killed Davey Moore?

Masters Of War

Playboys And Playgirls (with Pete Seeger)


Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar).


Pete Seeger (vocal & guitar).



above photo courtesy of David Gahr

July 28,1963: Newport Folk Festival.

During Joan Baez' set.






With God On Our Side

Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar),


Joan Baez (vocal & guitar).


Original written lyrics by Bob Dylan




Bob Dylan The Freewheelin' (Full Album) 1963







*Note: if you were there and would like to share your memories, pictures or tape please send it





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