Mudcat Café message #1707135 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #90040   Message #1707135
Posted By: Don Firth
30-Mar-06 - 09:49 PM
Thread Name: I just discovered Joan Baez
Subject: RE: I just discovered Joan Baez
My friend, Bob Nelson (Deckman) and I were in the San Francisco Bay area in late summer / early fall of 1959, sitting in the No Name Tavern in Sausalito, when Chicago folk singer Bob Gibson walked in. Bob (Nelson) and I had spent some time with him the year before when he was in Seattle, so he recognized us and came over. During the course of the conversation, he said that he had recently been to the Newport Folk Festival, and that there was a fantastic girl singer there. "You'll be hearing a lot about her pretty soon," he said.

True enough! The first time I heard Joan Baez' first record on Vanguard (started off with "Silver Dagger" and contained songs like "Fair Thee Well"), I was duly blown away! Great voice, excellent (and tasty) guitar.

The first time I saw her in person was during the Seattle World's Fair (Century 21) in 1962. She did a concert in the Seattle Opera House and packed the place (seats 3,100). A buddy of mine went backstage during intermission, managed to talk to her for a few minutes, and invited her to a party. He figured she'd say "no," but he asked just the same. Surprisingly, she said "yes." It seems she'd been in Seattle for about three days, didn't know anyone in town, and was feeling a bit lonely.

Big party at Dottie Broxon's big house on Capitol Hill. Joan didn't sing, because she'd already been singing for nearly two hours, but a lot of singing did go on, and we had a chance to converse with her some. Very enjoyable evening.

Then, in 1964, while attending the Berkeley Folk Festival, I was heading out for lunch after one of the workshops when I almost literally bumped into a small, dark-haired young woman wearing a T-shirt, cut-offs, and sandals just coming in. It was Joan. And darned if she didn't recognize me from the party two years earlier. We chatted for awhile, then went our separate ways. That evening she sang a terrific concert, then the following day participated in a couple of workshops.

Really nice person. Fine singer!

Don Firth

P. S. A bit of trivia that probably won't make the record books:   in early 1959, while I was singing at "The Place Next Door" in Seattle for $15.00 a night, she was making $10.00 a night at the "Club 47" in Cambridge. Shortly thereafter, our relative incomes from singing seemed to diverge a bit. . . .