In April 1961, Dylan played his first paying gig at Gerde’s Folk City, an early folk music venue in the Village and a launching pad for Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, and other 1960s folkie legends.
A very enthusiastic review in the New York Times that September helped make him a household name:
“A bright new face in folk music is appearing at Gerde’s Folk City,” write reviewer (and eventual Dylan biographer) Robert Shelton. “Although only 20 years old, Bob Dylan is one of the most distinctive stylists to play in a Manhattan cabaret in months.
“Resembling a cross between a choir boy and a beatnik, Mr. Dylan has a cherubic look and a mop of tousled hair . . . . His clothes may need a bit of tailoring, but when he works his guitar, harmonica, and piano and composes new songs faster than he can remember them, there is no doubt that he is bursting at the seams with talent.”
A review of Gerde’s from The New Inside Guide to Greenwich Village, 1965
Gerde’s was at West Fourth Street, at Mercer. The club moved to West Third Street in the 1970s, closing up shop in the 1980s. The West Fourth Street building in the photo above was torn down, replaced by a structure housing Hebrew Union College.