Friday, September 25, 2015

Down at the Crossroads w/ Dylan, Robert Johnson and the Devil

 Down @ the Crossroads w/ Dylan, Robert Johnson and the Devil

Image result for Robert Johnson CrossroadsImage result for Robert Johnson CrossroadsImage result for Robert Johnson Crossroads

The day Bob Dylan signed his first Columbia recording contract in John Hammond, Sr.’s office Hammond gave Dylan a couple of albums of other Columbia artists including Robert Johnson’s “The King of the Delta Blues,”  who Dylan never heard of but blew him away.

The Mississippi Delta is the home and cradle of the blues as much as New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, and in academic circles blues is considered a branch of jazz, and in fact followed the jazz trail when the musicians and prostitutes were kicked out of New Orleans in the closure of Storyville, the once-legal red light neighborhood where they lived, by the U.S. Army and Navy, though the righteous citizens of the city protested. “You can make it illegal but you can’t make it unpopular,” the New Orleans mayor said. 

But just as Katrina did a century later, the civic crackdown on Storyville – in November 1917, spread the musicians and the music beyond the city limits, and most of the suddenly out-of-work musicians followed the riverboats upriver to St. Louis, Memphis and Chicago, and letting off the bluesmen in the delta where they took root.

Their contemporary offshoots include the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson, James Cotton, B.B. King, Levon Helm and Robert Johnson – the “King of the Delta Blues,” who died broke and friendless at 27 years, said to be poisoned by a jealous husband or lover, leaving behind only 20 some recorded songs and two photographs.

When John Hammond, Sr. and Allan Lomax tried to find him to record him he was already dead, but not forgotten.

Legend has it that Robert Johnson couldn’t play a lick when he first picked up a guitar as a young boy, and was the subject of jokes among the real musicians, until he left town for awhile and came back with a style that shocked and amazed everyone, sparking a the myth that he made a deal with the devil, selling his soul in exchange for the musical talent.

“Sweet Home Chicago” was one of the songs Johnson recorded in two sessions at Texas hotels, and his other songs were covered by many artists over the years, but his most famous song is “Crossroads Blues” that Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix and dozens of others have covered and made famous.
According to Dylan, Robert Johnson hit him like a “tranquilizer bullet.” 

Dylan later wrote in his autobiographical Chronicles, Volume 1: “I listened to it repeatedly, cut after cut, one song after another, sitting staring at the record player. Whenever I did, it felt like a ghost had come into the room; a fearsome apparition…masked the presence of more than twenty men….Johnson’s words made my nerves quiver like piano wires. They were so elemental in meaning and feeling and gave you so much of the inside picture…..There’s no guarantee that any of his lines either happened, were said, or even imagined…I copied Johnson’s words down on scraps of paper so I could more closely examine the lyrics and patterns and free associations that he used, the sparkling allegories, big-ass truths wrapped in the hard shell of nonsensical abstraction – themes that flew through the air with the greatest of ease. I didn’t have any of these dreams or thoughts but I was going to acquire them. I thought about Robert Johnson a lot, wondered who his audience could have been. It’s hard to imagine sharecroppers or plantation field hands at hop joints, relating songs like these. You have to wonder if Johnson was playing for an audience that only he could see, one off in the future.”

Dylan discounts “the fast moving story going around that he had sold his sold to the devil at a four way crossroads at midnight and that’s how he got to be so good. Well, I don’t know about that. The ones who  knew him told a different tale and that was that he had hung around some older blues players in rural parts of Mississippi, played harmonica, was rejected as a bothersome kid, that he went off and learned how to play guitar from a farmhand named Ike Zinnerman, a mysterious character not in any of the history books.”

“This makes more sense,” says Dylan, as “John Hammond had told me that he thought Johnson had read Walt Whitman. Maybe he did, but it doesn’t clear up everything…..I would see Johnson for myself in eight seconds worth of 8-millimeter film shot in Ruleville, Mississippi, on a brightly lit afternoon street by some Germans in the late 1930s, but slowing the eight seconds, you can see that it really is Robert Johnson, has to be – couldn’t be anyone else.”

“I wasn’t the only one who learned a thing or two from Robert Johnson’s compositions,” Dylan wrote, “Johnny Winter, the flamboyant Texas guitar player born a couple of years after me, rewrote Johnson’s song about the phonograph, turning it into a song about a television set. Robert Johnson would have loved that. Johnny by the way recorded a song of mine, ‘Highway 61 Revisited,’ which itself was influenced by Johnson’s writing. It’s a strange the way circles hook up with themselves. Robert Johnson’s code of language was nothing I’d heard before or since. To go with that, someplace along the line Suzie (Rotolo) had also introduced me to the poetry of French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud. That was a big deal too. I came across one of his letters called ‘Je est un autre,’ which translates into ‘I is someone else.’ When I read those words bells went off. It made perfect sense….I went right along with Johnson’s dark night of the soul…Everything was in transition and I was standing in the gateway. Soon I’d step in heavy loaded, fully alive and revved up. Not quite yet though.”

And so it was when Hollywood came calling for the movie rights to the P. F. Kluge novel “Eddie & the Cruisers,” and the producers and script writers would eliminate a chapter, the one where the Cruisers drive their ’57 Chevy to Camden to visit Walt Whitman’s house, and in its place Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”  and “singing the body electric” is replaced by Arthur Rimbaud, who reportedly faked his own death  in order to live out his life anonymously, much like Eddie Wilson does in the follow up film.

Is Dylan pulling our leg with the Ike Zinnerman story, a farmhand teaching Robert Johnson how to play guitar instead of making a deal with the devil at the crossroads? After all, Dylan’s real name is Robert Zimmerman.
Supporting Dylan’s version, over the popular myths and legends, is the fact that the devil isn’t mentioned in the lyrics of Robert Johnson’s song “Crossroads Blues,” that makes no reference to a deal with the devil.

Cross Road Blues

I went to the crossroad
fell down on my knees
I went to the crossroad
fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above "Have mercy, now
save poor Bob, if you please

Mmmmm, standing' at the crossroad
I tried to flag a ride
Standin' at the crossroad
I tried to flag a ride
Didn't nobody seem to know me
everybody pass me by

Mmm, the sun goin' down, boy
dark gon' catch me here
oooo ooee eeee
boy, dark gon' catch me here
I haven't got no lovin' sweet woman that
love and feel my care

You can run, you can run
tell my friend-boy Willie Brown
You can run, you can run
tell my friend-boy Willie Brown
Lord, that I'm standin' at the crossroad, babe
I believe I'm sinkin' down

According to the popular legend: “A crossroads or an intersection of rural roads is one of the few landmarks in the Mississippi Delta, a flat featureless plain between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers. It is part of the local iconography. A crossroads is also where cars are more likely to slow down or stop, thus presenting the best opportunity for a hitchhiker. In the simplest reading, Johnson describes his grief at being unable to catch a ride at an intersection before the sun sets. However, many see different levels of meaning and some have attached a supernatural significance to the song.”

Crossroads are also points where people, families, towns, cities and sometimes whole societies reach a point in time where life changing decisions must be made, directions are changed and new destinations are set.
And so it came to pass in the summer of 1965 when America’s national psych came to a crossroads that was a circle – the Somers Point, New Jersey circle that led to many directions, five different roads, each with its hazards and rewards.

Some people want to know why the summer of ’65 was the best tourist season the Jersey Shore has ever seen before or since. Families came, college kids made it cool, hippies thought it was hip, bikers put in an appearance, but as everyone who was there remembers, it was The Place to be at that time. Some say it was the weather, others say the economy was good while still others say it was written in the stars, and it was just the right alignment of people and planets to create the special things that occurred.

And so the summer of 1965 began down at the crossroads, down the shore, the South Jersey Shore, where the crossroads was a circle, the Somers Point Circle, and very close to where all the action would take place and from where, as the sun set on Labor Day, everyone would leave to go in their own new direction, for better or for worse, to reward or tragedy, their destiny was determined - a fait accompli – but it still had to play out. 

Image result for Somers POint NJ CircleImage result for Somers POint NJ Circle

Friday, September 11, 2015

Did Jimi Hendrix Play the Point?

Did Jimi Hendrex play at Tony Marts? 


In the course of my research into the summer of 1965 I found this notation in David Henerston's bio of Hendrix that says Jimi went on tour for a few months in 1965 with Joey Dee and the Starliters, a band that played Tony Marts on more than one occasion. 

David Henderson, in his biography of Jimi Hendrix, "Escuse Me While I Kiss the Sky – The Life of Jimi Hendrix (Doubleday, NY, 1978 ), he mentions (on p. 71) that: 

“Jimmy Hendrix toured with Joe Dee and the Starliters near the end of 1965….This was the first time he had toured with a predominately white band. He had played with a few white bands in Seattle, but with Joey Dee he got to savor the ‘Twist’ craze right up close. The hysteria that the augmented rockabilly bat drove the myriad crowds to was amazing. It was like Joey Dee was a high priest, a messenger, bringing a sacred message to all. Right there he witnessed the power of word and music, specially as promoted by big-town machinery, but more so, as ordained by the people’s need for release. The Twist included all ages and all kinds of people, and it was not necessarily youth-oriented. The Beatle’s in ’65 were still kings of the English sound, but they were essentially a listening experience, a pleasant experience compared to the uncouth Twist parties.” 

 I’ve seen undated Tony Marts advertisements that mention Joey Dee and the Starliters and Carmen Marotta has listed Joey Dee and the Starliters and the Pepperment Twist on their list of the music that made Tony Marts famous under 1964-65. 

And there are two photos of Jimi Hendrix with Joey Dee and the Starliters and a video of Hendrix in the band behind Joey Dee in a recorded live performance. So if Hendrix played with Joey De e and the Starliters for four months in the late summer and fall of 1965 he was with them if they played Tony Marts at that time. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Most Decisive Moment in Rock History - 50 Years Ago

The Most Decisive Moment in Rock History - 50 Years Down the Crossroads

If ever there was a moment in time when music was at a crossroads, it was 28 August 1965, 50 years ago, when Bob Dylan “went electric,” what Time Magazine called “the most decisive moment in rock history,” and things still haven’t been the same.

The myths and legends that have been spun around Dylan meeting Levon and the Hawks, the whole electric thing, the Basement Tapes, Woodstock, the Band, the Last Waltz and the trials and tribulations are now all part of our cultural history.

Sometimes the myths are written in stone, even though they only contain some semblance of the truth, such as the historical marker in Toronto, Canada that marks the location of where Friar’s Tavern once stood, and officially propagates the fact that this was the spot where on Thursday, September 16, 1965, Bob Dylan met and first played with Levon and the Hawks, who would become The Band.

Jana Shea, at Newsworks, writes: “It was 50 years ago (yes, ‘your road is rapidly agin’….’) that Dylan, who had rose to fame as a folk music singer-songwriter, plugged in and released ‘Bringing It All Back Home.” After playing the 1965 Newport Folk Festival with (gasp! Boo!) an electrified sound, he went in search of a back-up band for his next tour. Legend has it that Dylan discovered the group that would become The Band…in Somers Point during one of their regular summer gigs at Tony Marts nightclub. Whether the connection occurred at the Jersey Shore (as festival organizers boast) or earlier at Friar’s Tavern in Toronto, Canada (per nearly everyone else), the result was Bob Dylan and The Band hit the road together and forever changed rock music.” 

Toronto reporter and historian John Goddard makes the case for Dylan meeting the Hawks in Toronto, where they were from and did play often, and maybe did practice with Dylan in September 1965 before embarking on their “world tour,” but despite the historical marker and protests from Goddard and Shea, Dylan did not meet the Hawks for the first time in Toronto on September 16, 1965. 

How can that be true if two of the Hawks – drummer Levon Helm and guitarist Robbie Robertson performed with Dylan at Forest Hills, New York on August 28, 1965, as they most certainly did in the concert that is pointed to as “the most decisive moment in rock history.” 

Then one of Dylan’s numerous biographers, poo poos the idea that Dylan called Levon and the Hawks at Tony Marts in Somers Point, NJ and asked them to join him without having seen or played with them before, which is exactly what Levon Helm told me and recounts in his autobiography “This Wheels On Fire.” 

Who are we to believe – an unauthorized biographer writing without the cooperation of those who he is writing about? Or Levon Helm, one of the principle characters in the story? 

And it is a certified fact that Levon and the Hawks were playing on a nightly basis from late June until mid-August 1965 as the house band at Tony Marts in Somers Point and were booked and contracted to play three sets a night until Labor Day, but were let out of their contract in order to play with Dylan at Forest Hills.  

 Tony Mart's 1965

Tony mart's 1965, Levon and the Hawks, The Female Beatles

The myths that have grown up around Dylan and the Hawks are legendary, but the real truth is a matter of public record – and part of the story that I try to recount in the serialized blog The Summer of ’65 Revisited [that is being posted at], which details the Hawks at the Point and the most accurate account of how Dylan came to meet them. 

After writing and recording “Like a Rolling Stone,” Dylan wanted a rock band to play with and his manager Albert Grossman’s Secretary Mary Martin, from Toronto, recommended the Hawks, as did John Hammond, Jr., who had previously met the Hawks on the road and in Toronto. Grossman tracked down the Hawks at Tony Marts through their Canadian booking agent Colonel Harold Kutlets, and Dylan called them there and talked on the phone with Levon Helm, who didn’t know who Dylan was. Then Levon, Robertson and maybe Garth Hudson drove to New York City and met Dylan for the first time at Grossman’s office. 

After playing Tony Marts for the last time, Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson played with Dylan at the famous concert at Forest Hills, NY, and then the rest of the Hawks backed Dylan on his tour that included Austin, Texas and the UK. 

Read Reviews of the Forest Hills Show: 

Peter S. Brown -

Robert Shelton - New York Times -

Al Kooper -

My continuing serial blog “The Summer of 1965 Revisited” [ ]  also recalls the conversion of Conway Twitty, who also played Tony Marts that summer, and successfully converted from a rock and roll star to country music, another pertinent change in direction that altered the history of music in America. 

Conway Twitty’s official web site biography says: “After eight years of playing sock hops and dance clubs, Twitty heard the ticking of an internal clock that seemed to guide all the major decisions in his life. One night on a stage in Summer's Point, New Jersey, Twitty looked out at a room full of people he didn't know. With a wife and three kids at home, he realized his days of providing background music for sweaty teens were over. Twitty put down his guitar, walked off the stage and embarked on one of the greatest country careers in history. Signed by legendary producer Owen Bradley to MCA/Decca in 1965, Twitty released several singles before 1968's "Next In Line" became his first country No. 1. And thus began a run unmatched in music history. Twitty reeled off 50 consecutive No. 1 hits.”

Most myths and legends are passed on by vocal tradition and you can tell that this version of Conway Twitty’s career that talks about “Summer’s Point,” spells Somers Point the way someone who hears it, and probably heard it from the horse’s mouth – Conway Twitty himself. 

As for how Bob Dylan met the Hawks, some of the participants are still alive - Dylan, John Hammond, Jr., Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson are all alive and Mary Martin should be, so maybe someone should ask them how it all went down.

In the meantime, to commemorate the union of Dylan and the Hawks - Jeff Schwachter and friends are putting on a Dylan Fest show this Friday, August 28 (7:30pm) at the Dante Theater - 14 N. Mississippi Avenue, in Atlantic City, the marvelous music hall now owned by Stockton University, presenting a concert of the songs that Dylan and the Hawks performed at that time as well as some of the songs that made Tony Marts nightclub one of the most famous clubs on the East Coast.

Dante Theater Dylan Fest:

DYLAN FEST is a musical tribute to Bob Dylan (and Levon & the Hawks) on the 50th anniversary of Dylan releasing the groundbreaking record “Like a Rolling Stone,” a pair of classic albums and, most importantly, “going electric,” which has fascinating and historic connections to the Atlantic City area. Mirroring the Dylan/Hawks shows of 50 years ago, this show features the acoustic stylings of Philadelphia native singer/songwriter Peter Stone Brown, rounded out by a plugged in, electrified salute by the region’s best Dylan tribute band, the 5 Believers! 

This event pays homage on the 50th anniversary of Dylan “going electric” and mystifying audiences with the first electric/acoustic folk-rock show of its kind. In 1965, Dylan chose members of Levon & the Hawks (featuring the late Levon Helm, and which would later become The Band) after discovering them during their  summer-long residency just 15 minutes outside of AC in a Somers Point, NJ nightclub called Tony Mart’s.  

Dylan would eventually recruit the entire Hawks group for his game-changing and historic world tour (in late 1965-1966), as documented in the PBS Martin Scorsese-directed documentary No Direction Home and the official Columbia Records Bootleg Series releases.

South Jersey resident Jeff Schwachter has been studying, performing, painting — and writing about — the music of Bob Dylan for more than a quarter century. In recent years, his band 5 Believers has begun paying tribute to Dylan with several special and well-received shows and events in the Atlantic City/Philadelphia area. Schwachter, former editor of Atlantic City Weekly, also wrote the nationally award-winning piece “Somers Point ’65,” which tells the inside story of how Dylan wound up finding his electric band at the Jersey Shore and ultimately changing the course of modern rock forever and helping the Hawks become The Band.

For more information visit DYLAN FEST AC  

Follow this event on Facebook - Dylan Fest AC

Levon & The Hawks

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bob Dylan and the Hawks

The Long Cool Summer of '65 Revisited - Act II Episode # - Bob Dylan and the Hawks


Few events in the half-century history of rock & roll are considered more significant than when Bob Dylan plugged in his guitar, went electric and began playing with the Hawks.

How Dylan came to meet the Hawks has been a matter of much scrutiny and uncertainty, and there has been a lot of myth making around the legends as they grew over the years.

The most popular accounts have Dylan discovering the Hawks while on vacation in Atlantic City, or some variation of that, but after much diligent research this is the most likely account of what really happened.

By the end of June '65, Dylan's song “Mr. Tambourine Man,” as recorded by the Byrds, was Number One on the pop charts and one of the songs that the hippies at Shriver's Pavilion  on the Ocean City Boardwalk would play on their guitars and sing, with someone playing a bongo drum and inevitably a tambourine would chime in.

The Byrds were a new California band who took the song, as it was written by Bob Dylan, and gave it a rocky twist, and make the song the first and the only song Dylan would write to make it Number One on the popular music charts.

Dylan wrote the song the previous winter of 1964 during a cross country road trip he made with some buddies. He was already the epitome of all things folk, pretege of  Woody Gunthrie, leader of political protests, playing with Joan Baez at the Lincoln Memorial when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech, and was the darling of the folk crowd and the “conscience of his generation.”

But Dylan had recently been booed by a liberal white audience when he accepted the Tom Paine Award and gave a drunken, rambling speech in which he showed sympathy for President Kennedy's assassin. With a new album in the can, a small college tour to back it, his relationship with girlfriend on the rocks, it was time to get out of Dodge.- “Get while the getten's good,” as someone in his crowd said, making Dylan stop to think if there's a song in that cleche.

On the cross country, coast to coast road trip from New York City to San Fran, they stopped at every record shop on the way – in Newark, Philadelphia, Wilmington and Washington D.C,. to buy every copy of his new record they could get their hands on, one of which was given to Carl Sanberg, who they dropped in to visit unexpectedly, and found the old man at home on his farm and a bit perplexed by this young man knocking on his door and handing him a record. Sandberg just didn't get it, but was polite about not acknowledging it.

The itinerary of this road trip included stopping to sing for some Freedom Riders, who were northern white liberal college kids trying to convince black people in the South to register and vote, some of whom were being killed by the local red necks.

Then it was on to New Orleans, where they visited some clubs in the French Quarter and found a young hippie singing Dylan's songs. Then they stopped at Dealey Plasa in Dallas where President Kennedy was killed before moving on to Vegas and San Francisco.

Well it was sometime during that road trip that Dylan wrote “Mr. Tambourine Man,” a song he said was about Bruce Langhorne, a folk music session percussionist who had a large Turkish drum that was lined with bells that sounded like a tambourine, an instrument Langhorne said he bought in a Village pawn shop.

Dylan recorded the song in a Hollywood studio while he was in California, and a demo copy of the first recording of the song was shared with the Byrd's manager, who convinced them to record it as one of the first of the songs they would do in what was to become known as new genera of music they called soft-rock, and they did it complete with drums, guitars and all kinds of new electronic gimics they were coming up with. The “Mr. Tambourine Man” recording session actually included only two members of the Byrds, formerly The Jet Setters, including David Crosby, and studio session men who would become known as The Wrecking Crew.

The Byrd's version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” was released first, and hit the pop charts like a bullet, and it quickly got Dylan's attention, in fact it blew him away, not only because of the sound, but the fact that a lot of people liked it – it helped bring folk music into the popular mainstream, and made everybody a lot of money.

Back in New York City, Dylan retreated to his Village apartment and was inspired to write not just another song, but another song that would change music as we know it, society as it was and the world in ways that are not yet done.

When Dylan finished writing the last lyrics and notes to “Like A Rolling Stone” he knew he had a hot hit on his hands, and made a quick mono tape recording of it, and then took the tape and his guitar Uptown to the office of his manager Albert Grossman. Grossman was busy with another client, John Hammond, Jr., but Dylan and Hammond were friends too. Hammond's father, John Hammond, Sr., had signed Dylan to Columbia Records, as he had previously signed Billie Holiday and would someday sign the kid from Asbury Park who had yet to come down the Pike and wasn't yet the boss.

Dylan excitedly told Grossman and Hammond that he wrote a new song, and he wanted them to hear it. Dylan was going to play the tape he had just made but instead he spread the half typed and some hand scrawled words out on paper on the coffee table in front of him, picked up the guitar and began to strum and sing, “Once upon a time, you dressed so fine,......”

Grossman and Hammond had the same reaction to the song as Dylan himself, they knew it was a hit, but they also knew the ugly inner workings and blood, sausage and guts of the entertainment industry and were aware that even the best songs can fall by the wayside if not done logistically correct, and there was no particular way to do it, they just had to get all the ducks in order to make that song a hit.

Then Dylan mentioned the Byrd's version of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and how neat it sounded with the drums, guitars, keys and all that reverb shit, and that's how “Like A Rolling Stone”:had to be produced, not as an acoustic folk song.

And Grossman agreed, and he seldom agreed with anybody, as he was known to be one of the toughest and most ostentatious entertainment managers on the planet, at least in New York City. He even disagreed with the contract Hammond, Sr. had given Dylan and made him re-write it.

While Hammond, Jr. was a rich white boy who loved and played really good black blues songs, he got the rock and roll thing too, and Grossman started going through his massive Rolodex they began throwing out names of rock and roll bands who could possibly play “Like A Rolling Stone,” and tour with Dylan to back the song and the next album that they knew could revolutionize music as it was known at the time.

“Dion broke with the Belmonts,” Grossman said dryly, “and we have this new group out of Chicago, “The Paul Butterfield Blues Band is looking for work,.....” and Hammond threw out the names of some of the groups he knew might fill the bill, but then a squeaky, uncertain girls voice spoke up and interrupted them.

“Excuse me Mr. Grossman but,” Grossman's secretary hesitated, “but, but I know a really good band – the Hawks.”

Receptionist-secretary Mary Martin had been sitting there fielding phone calls while taking it in, and if they want a rock & roll band, well she really did know a good one – the Hawks.

Originally from Canada, Martin went to school in Ontario and caught the Hawks on numerous occasions.

“I saw the Hawks play back home and they're really the best band I have ever seen or heard, even here in New York,” Martin said.

“That's a pretty good endorsement,” Hammond spoke up, “and I'll vouch for them too; I met the Hawks on the road down south playing with Rockabilly Ronnie Hawkins, a real rout y road bunch, but solid musicians.

Grossman looked at Dylan, and Dylan looked at Mary Martin and John Hammond, Jr. and asked, “Where can we find the Hawks?”

“Put in a call to Colonel Kudlets in Ontario,” Grossman said to Martin, and without having to look in his Rolodex, barked out the address and phone number from memory – That's Harold Kudlets, Suite 824 Sheraton-Connauqht Hotel, Hamilton, Ontario – 522-0900.”

Grossman talked to Kudlets directly, one on one, mano to mano, they were two of a kind, and dealt on an equal basis even though Grossman was much higher on the entertainment totem pole since he was in Manhattan, the center of entertainment power, and Kudlets was in Ontario, a third world market in the entertainment universe.

Few words were exchanged, and when Grossman put down the phone he said, “The Hawks are playing a nightclub in Somers Point, New Jersey called Tony Marts, and their booked until Labor Day, and Kudlets said the contract is good but they can be bought out of it if the money was there.

It's at this point in the proceedings where things get a little foggy, as some accounts suggest that Dylan, with Hammond, Jr. immediately drove down the Garden State Parkway to Somers Point (Exit 30) to check out the Hawks at Tony Marts.

If they did they didn't call ahead or announce the fact, and at the door paid the $2 cover to Sonny McCullough, the guy behind the cash register at the door who took the tickets and cover charge, they got a beer from Dick Squires at the Triangle Bar, or Dooby at the Round Bar, and stood back against the wall and just took the whole scene in, giving the Hawks close scrutiny.

If Dylan did come to Somers Point he didn't say hello to the Hawks or Tony Marotta, or tell anybody who he was, and he wasn't recognized, but its entirely likely that he did check out a performance by the Hawks before he tended them an offer, which he did one afternoon over the phone.

Now back to more solid historical footing, as recounted by Levon, one day while they were rehearsing or sitting around their dressing room on the second floor of Tony Marts, they got a phone call, probably to the pay phone in the hall, and Levon took the call.

Dylan identified himself and asked Levon if he and the Hawks wanted to play with him at Carnegie Hall.

Levon was perplexed, he held the phone away from him and told the other guys sitting around that it was Bob Dylan.

“Whose Bob Dylan?” Levon asked, and Richard leaned over and whispered in his ear, “wrote Mr. Tambourine Man,” and Levon nodded and went back on the line and asked, “Who else is on the bill?” he asked.

“Just us,” Dylan replied, as Levon incredulously considered them selling out Carnegie Hall as something that just wasn't possible.

But Dylan was serious, and talked Levon into coming to New York City to see him, and the following Monday while the Hangover League played ball, Levon, Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson drove up to New York City, possibly with Conway Twitty, who had business in New York at the same time.

While Twitty was signing a new record contract with a Country Music Lable, the three Hawks visited Dylan at Grossman's office where they introduced themselves to Mary Martin, the receptionist, who in turn introduced them to Dylan, sitting on the couch in the adjacent lounge.

When Grossman came out of his office, they all sat down around a reel to reel tape recorder and when they were ready he turned it on and played the studio recording of “Like A Rolling Stone,” that Dylan had made a few days earlier, mainly with the Butterfield Blues Band and Al Kooper and some studio guys who just happened to be there at the time.

Levon, Robbie and Garth listened, and at the end of the song, they all sat back speechless for a few seconds, until Dylan spoke up enthusiastically, “Do you want to play that?” he asked.

That they did, but there was a problem, you see, they were under contract to play at Tony Marts until Labor Day, but Dylan said he needed them, and needed them Now, as he was booked to play Forest Hills, a tennis area being used for folk shows, on August 28, a little over a week away.

Impossible, they said, as Tony Marotta was a tough nut, and they liked him like a father and couldn't and wouldn't break the contract with him.

Grossman spoke up for the first time saying, “We'll double what they're paying you for the week and we'll contract you for the year, and pay you even if you don't play.”

Levon looked at Robbie who looked at Garth and they all were just dumbfounded.

“Well, we'll see what we can do about the Tony Marts gig and get back to you soon Mr. Dylan,” Levon said shaking his hand, as Robertson and Garth got up without saying anything and they all left wondering what was going to happened now.

The ride back down the Parkway was a quiet one, they kept the radio off and just though about what was going down, what could go down, and what would go down, and all of the various possibilities.

Going with Dylan, someone spoke up along the ride, was not like backing Ronnie Hawkins, as Hawkins was stuck in the rut off the old Chitlin' Circuit, while Dylan was on his way up, playing arenas, not nightclubs and roadhouses, and his song was Number One on the pop charts at that moment, and they just heard a new song that was going to go somewhere, and they just felt they had to be a part of that trip, where ever it went, and go along for the ride.

But how would they explain that to Rick and Richard and most of all Mr. Mart, Anthony Marotta, who had taken them off the road, given them a steady job and made them feel at home?

They couldn't and wouldn't screw him no matter what.

When they got back to Bay Avenue Somers Point they asked for Rick and Richard and Wordman, cleaning up the joint, told them that they were across the street at Coach's Corner, a little out door grill where they often ate and hung out during the day.

After talking with Rick and Richard, Levon went back to Tony Marts, and walked through the front door as he did the first day he arrived, went through the dark club, now just getting ready to open, and out the back door, past the canyon of beer cases and kegs and knocked on Tony's office door.

Sitting across from Tony in his office was a bit unnerving, especially given what Levon was about to tell Tony, and he got what he expected.

Tony got up from his chair saying, “You want to leave me before the BIGGEST weekend of the SUMMER!, You Bums,” and Levon shifted back in his chair, as Tony's voice shifted and went from deep, dark and husky to a softer tone, and the acknowledgment that, “but it's a good opportunity for you boys." The Hawks had been good to him, so Tony sat down again and picked up the phone and said, “If Colonel Kudlets has a band that can fill your shoes for Labor Day weekend you can walk, you can go dance with Bob Dylan or anybody, but Kudlets has to come through.”

And Kudlets did come through with a band that was acceptable to Tony – Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, whose hit song, “Devil With The Blue Dress” was on the charts and making like a bullet.

Then Tony did what he seldom does, he threw a farewell party for the Hawks, something he had only done once previously, for Len Carey and the Crackerjacks. Len Carey was a protege of Spike Jones, and brought his New Orleans schtick to Tony Marts, complete with beads and crackerjacks, while Spike Jones is mentioned in “Up on Cripple Creek.”

Since Conway's birthday was coming up soon, on September 1st, but he too was leaving Tony Marts, his contract was up the week before Labor Day, so the farewell party was going to be a double whammy – goodbye, so long, farewell to both Conway Twitty and the Hawks, and planning a fine Somers Point send off was in the works.

{This is an episode of The Long Cool Summer of '65 Revisited – Act II – A Work In Progress)

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