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Dick and Mimi - where they were, how they got there, and what they did for three days
 Dick and Mimi - where they were, how they got there, and what they did for three days......
       According to Hajdu, the Fariñas "rented half of one floor in a two-story row house on Putnam Avenue" ( subletting Tom's Rush's place) in late fall of 1964, and were centered there (as they would be next year, same time) making  club appearances around the east coast through summer.  Their first album, Celebrations For A Grey Day, had been recorded in late fall, but would not be released on Vanguard until April, '65, though for most folk acts (and rock acts at the time), album sales were good for grocery money and buying that surprise bicycle for your uncle, but the real money was in touring.  And since the majority of folk clubs at the time crowded the northeast,  almost any major city from Philadelphia to Boston was only two or three hours from everywhere else, the whole east coast was folk central. And since most folk clubs booked single nights, two weekend nights (Friday and Saturday), or the rare week, living in any city practically made it a commuter job.  By the end of March, Random House wouldJudy Collins does good Henske,  early april 65, w/ harold Leventhal - photo by Suzanne Szasz be accepting Dick's novel, and the Fariñas temporarily relocated to their buddy, Judy Collins',  Upper West Side apartment, while Mimi played guitar and Dick dulcimered away at two tunes for her forthcoming LP ( the Fariñas' "Pack Up Your Sorrows" and Gil Turner's "Carry It On") and writing the liner notes for what was to be released that summer as Judy Collins' Fifth Album.  
       At the end of April, the Fariñas and Dick's friend Alfredo Dopico joined the recently arrived Joan Baez and her friend, Barb Warmer, for an early birthday trip to Bearsville, NY, the home of Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman ,  with the Fariñas staying in a small room above the town's Cafe Espresso, according to Hajdu. Dylan  and his friend Victor Maimudes were there to join the fun when a birthday celebration for Mimi was held downstairs at the Cafe, although the fun was run through a bad translation into what was exclusively trademarked as Dylan's kind of fun -- looking for weak spots in people and then mining them with a blow-torch,  first heating up Alfredo, then Joan, resulting in a sobbing Joan, angry Fariña, and an uncommonly livid Mimi who, contrary to her pacifist personality, laid physical siege to Dylan to the point of tears (his) and made damned sure he'd think twice before indulging in any more sporting events with her big sister again.
           The Fariñas returned to touring through late spring and early summer, including a June 2 appearance at the New Gate of Cleve in Toronto where they played to an audience of six. The reviewer remarked that they'd gamely made the best of it, and though the songs were good, their act was nonexistent, their demeanor too quiet. Surely, the first and last those words would ever be applied to Dick Fariña.
           July 5th, they were back home in Cambridge for their usual Monday night monthly appearance.     
Somewhere during this time, the Newport Folk Foundation's board of directors were having a series of meetings to plan for that summer's Newport Folk Festival. The directors that year were :
            - Theodore Bikel - actor and folksinger
            - Ronnie Gilbert - late of the Weavers, now solo
            - Alan Lomax - singer, author, folk music collector, who, along with his father John, was largely  
              responsible for the Archive of Folksong in the Library of Congress
            - Ralph Rinzler - Greenbriar Boy and the Foundation's main traditional folk music talent scout
            - Mike Seeger - New Lost City Rambler, folk collector and instrumentalist, son of ethnomusicologist
              Charles, brother of Peggy, and half-brother of Pete
            - Pete Seeger - !
            - Peter Yarrow - He of ..., Paul & Mary , and a Cornell classmate of Dick's
           Together, the board had the sole responsibility to choose who was to come, what workshops would be created, what performers would fill those workshops, and some were even involved in the actual producing of the evening concerts.  According to Robert L. Jones, former performer of "haunting Guthrie ballads" and  m.c. of the Club 47 Sunday hoots and now a top officer at the Newport Folk Foundation, the question of who chose the talent is a complex one: " When one says 'who chose the talent?', there was nobody who said 'I wanna have this guy' -- it was all mutually decided upon at two or three of the meetings". Traditional music, "primarily music that was not found by picking up a phone or hearing about it from some agent" was brought in by Ralph Rinzler, who was funded by the Foundation to make field recording trips, which oftentimes resulted in tapes being brought back and played for the Board. Jones says judgments on these tapes would be made  based on "whether we thought that this could be dovetailed into a very strong, popular kind of audience, an audience that was ready to listen to popular things as well as traditional things. Some people probably would not have been able to handle it." The Board, he says, was also aware of the contemporary folk scene, and as performers " were constantly aware of other people in the field, whether they'd be popular or in some instances, the traddies. But generally people knew of other people. Later on there was some instance of when it was important for us to balance out a program with enough popular people to pay for the event..."
      Board member Peter Yarrow,  the youngest member of the board, loved traditional music and had been a heavy promoter of folk music since teaching English 355-356 ("which was a class in folk music and folk ballads under Dr. Harold Thompson") in his student days at  Cornell (where he'd known fellow student, Richard Fariña, "but only in passing -- I met him later in the context of his writing").  But Yarrow was concerned about the contemporary folk scene." At a certain point [1964], I told the board that I didn't think it was appropriate for the people like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, and Peter, Paul &Mary to draw these huge crowds and not acknowledge the new urban singers that were coming up through the ranks." His unhappiness that " the emphasis was on traditional music and the people who would draw the crowds -- namely Joan Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, etc." at the expense of the thriving younger scene was accompanied by a suggestion "that my continued involvement with the board was contingent upon -- not taking anything away from the evening concerts -- but letting me organize and book a concert and then host it and run it, for the new folks...." Out of his concern was born the Sunday afternoon concert known, with good reason, as "New Folks" (renamed "New Directions" in 1966).
      There have been many theories over the years about how the Fariñas were invited to perform at the 1965 festival. Some say it had to have been Joan Baez putting the squeeze on the Board. Some say Albert Grossman, Dick and Mimi's eventual manager, used his connections to pull it off. Others say it was Dick himself , or his reputation as a songwriter. " Oh, I don't know," admits Yarrow, " You know, I might have heard a song here or remembered them from somewhere. It might have been because I knew Dick before that, or from knowing Joan Baez. And I had known Mimi for years because of Joan". The suggestion that Dick had sent emissaries to lobby for him was laughable to Yarrow  : " You didn't have to promote Dick Fariña, man, he was a promoter! He was a mover, he did things, he got things done! He was an organizer! You didn't have to promote him: that was one of the things I liked about him -- he was going places. And Mimi was so beautiful. People were curious about them, they wanted to know about them." But without a specific memory from the member most likely to know the Fariñas' work and put them forth for inclusion, we're left to theorize --
      Joan Baez certainly had the clout to put forth the Fariñas, and Dick wasn't shy about humbly letting her do it for them.  There is no reason she wouldn't have, unless she thought there was a good chance they'd get the nod even without her. On the other hand, Robert Jones says the board wasn't necessarily susceptible to outside pressure, that the schedules were made up from ingredients blended to give the concerts an even flow, and that the Board certainly would have known of Dick and Mimi, though they also would have known a number of other promising new acts.
      In an interview in Hajdu's book, Mimi states she assumed that Albert Grossman had managed to finagle them an invite to the New Folks concert on Sunday afternoon. As I explained above though, acts were never invited for one thing -- first they were invited, then the board set about figuring how to use them and putting them into slots. Robert Jones testifies that " the only people ever brought in [just] for workshops... would have been later on when we brought in a lot of crafts people."  With the Fariñas, it would be logical to assume at least a few members of the board were familiar with them as an act (Yarrow, as noted above, and Theo Bikel were notably tuned to the contemporary scene), and probably also with both their individual talents. With all the folk activity being centered on the east coast, paths crossed constantly, and everyone was aware of everyone else, particularly up-and-comers. So the Saturday Contemporary Song Workshop would be a logical spot because they were certainly Contemporary, and also because that was another of Yarrow's projects -- and Yarrow always put full effort into showcasing the contemporary scene.  Though not all workshops repeated from year to year, I'm sure with the addition of the Fariñas, Jean Ritchie's 1964 Autoharp and Dulcimer Workshop (co-hosted by Mike Seeger), shortened by an autoharp, an hour or so and quite a few performers would have made another logical addition to the schedule. The Sunday afternoon New Folks would have been another logical placement --  because not only they were perfectly suited to the requirements Yarrow had outlined, but  because again, it was Yarrow's concert to book. As for Grossman, he didn't actually represent the Fariñas until just before the Festival. Grossman had looked over their contract with Vanguard at Dick's behest, in what was probably a preliminary flirtation by both, but I think Grossman would have enough to keep him busy pushing his own stable if any pushing was going to be done. Had Grossman been doing their bookings prior to that point, instead of Greenhill, Mimi (who only found out about the Grossman contract the first day of the festival) should have been more surprised by the earlier handshake with Greenhill than Grossman's wet ink on the program ad. So I don't think Grossman had much to do with their invitation to perform.  
      My theory is that the Fariñas made it on their own steam, but I think it was done with a powerful assist from Peter Yarrow. Peter recognized not only talent, but also who and what would make a good mix at the festival.  Fariña was a known entity on his own; Mimi had long been a favorite with the insiders of the folk crowd. With the commotion over "Birmingham Sunday" at the '64 festival, people would have been naturally curious, as Yarrow pointed out, about what the couple was up to. They made a gorgeous couple, and that certainly would have made their faces and image known, followed by a natural curiosity about what that meant. Their album's well-received release that spring would have been a good inducement (I think it was John Hammond Jr. who pointed out that when it came to the festival, "An album was your ticket" for a new act). With his knack for self-promotion, if Dick couldn't get himself target-marketed to the board, nobody could have. Yarrow's knack for mixing would have been especially evident at the dulcimer workshop -- while renown as one of the nicest people in folk music, Jean Ritchie was a strict traditionalist, more at home with Chet Parker, Howie Mitchell or Frank Proffitt than with any non-relative under the age of 40, but she was quick to realize the Fariñas could be as much benefit to her as she to them. And I think this would be the best testament to Peter Yarrow's skill at and love for folk music. The idea was that the audience grow.

Next section: Dick and Mimi - What they did for three days...

Last modified: 1 march '10