From article "Big Joe Williams - Memory of the Road"" in the March/April issue of Blues Revue magazine:
"A very young Bob Dylan had been similarly impressed with Williams' performances and begana kind of musical partnership with Williams when Big Joe was booked in the fall of 1961 by [Bob] Koester [founder of Delmark Records], at Gerde's Folk City in New York City. Joe performed regularly during a two week period with Dylan frequently sitting in. They were billed as Big Joe and Little Joe, or Joe Junior. Len Kunstadt was subsequently talked into letting Dylan play for some of Williams' studio sessions by his wife, Victoria Spivey. These sides were later released on an album featuring tracks by Victoria, Lonnie Johnson, and Roosevelt Sykes entitled _Three Kings and a Queen_. Dulan played harp behind Williams driving guitar and raspy vocals on "Sitting on Top of the World" and "Wichita".This is the first issue of Blues Revue I've read and I highly recommend it! Besides the very interesting story on Big Joe Williams, the cover story is an interview with Dr. John, one of my other faves.
From: Miss Information Subject: Re: Who Williams, Big Joe Williams, Big Joe Dorwin Black dorwin.black at worldnet.att.net: Date: Thu, 01 Jan 2004 04:51:35 GMT A few days ago, I bought the recent Big Joe Williams reissue on Delmark, "I Got Wild" (Delmark 767). The music is fantastic, and I highly recommend it to blues fans in the group; but I was surprised to read the following in the liner notes by Robert Koester: "[Big Joe Williams] first session for Delmark was improptu (still unissued), recorded at Jackovac's tavern. Erwin Helfer, on his way from college in New Orleans, played piano. In the fall of '57, Big Joe looked up Erwin in Chicago who booked a recording session for Cobra Records and a night at the College of Complexes where Bob Dylan befriended Joe." It's been a while since I read any of the biographies, but I don't remember anything about this in them. Bob would only have been 16 at the time. Maybe his memory is off by a few years? Was Bob Dylan ever in Chicago in 1957? I pulled my copy of Shelton's biography off the shelf, and found that Bob and Big Joe have told varying stories of how they initially met. Here is the relevant excerpt from Shelton (p.170 -171) ------ "When Mike Porco considered booking Big Joe at Folk City in early 1962, Dylan Hyped him: "He's the greatest old bluesman. You gotta put him in here." Mike did, for three weeks in February. Dylan showed up nearly every night, jammed with Big Joe onstage several times .......... "Years later, Big Joe gave me an interview. Big Joe maintains he met Dylan in Chicago when Bob was only six! (Bob probably met Joe in Chicago in 1960 on his way east.) The matter is further obfuscated by Dylan's saying in 1962 that he had run off to Chicago when he was ten: "I saw a Negro musician playing his guitar on the street and I went up to him and began accompanying him on the spoons. I used to play the spoons when I was little." Complementing Dylan's story, Big Joe reconstructed the trip: "I first met Bob about 1946 or 1947, in Chicago. I disremember the exact year, but he was very very young, probably no more than six. He looked the same that he looks now. I think he was just born with that talent. He used to get up on his tiptoes and was cracking wise just the way he do now. Well, I was just working on the streets of Chicago then, the way I had done since 1927. Somehow or other he knew songs I had made on records, like 'Baby, Please Don't Go' and 'Highway Forty-Nine.' He met me on the North Side, around State and Grand, and we just walked down to State and Thirty-Fifth Street. I was working, singing, all the way along. If we came up to some cabaret where he couldn't get in because he was too young, I would just leave him outside on the curbstone. It must have taken us about three hours to make that trip. Bob was asking me all sorts of questions. He said that he was going to do this sort of thing one of these days, and I said that he would, because he had a lot of talent." --------- It's impossible to believe that a six year old Robert Zimmerman ran into Big Joe while wandering the streets of Chicago by himself, and proceeded to "ask him all kinds of questions". Big Joe's account would be somewhat believable if the actual timeframe were 1957, although I thought Bob was more into rock and roll than the blues at that stage in his life. In 1957, Dylan and his friends would have been able to drive, and could have taken a roadtrip to Chicago some weekend. So maybe Robert Koester's claim of a 1957 meeting is plausible. I wonder if Bob will have anything to say about this in 'Chronicles'. ;-) ----------------