Friday, October 14, 2016


It's 1962 or 1961. My husband Reg Dixon and I have left Paraguay behind and are living in a rooftop apartment in Trastevere, Rome's left-bank. In the evenings we often drop in at the Folk Studio, a cavernous musical haven for world citizens and restless locals, run by Harold Bradley, a hugely talented African American singer, actor, painter and all-around exceptional human being. His deep velvet basso profundo version of the old Gospel classic God's Gonna Cut You Down can easily persuade you Harold is God (but he'll never cut you down because he loves you too much). 

We've made friends with Harold and since Reg plays the guitar and we both sing, sometimes we perform our American, English, French, Spanish or Mexican repertoire. Other amateur and professional musicians often come on stage from the audience and, one winter night, a skinny kid wearing a casquette (you know, those flat caps) gets up there. 

To my shame, I cannot remember what or how he sang or even if he had his guitar with him but I know it was good. Reg and I and another man and the kid, who is very very drunk and hilariously funny with it, go round the corner to a bar for some food. The kid's sense of humour is so sharp and so contagious that we are all falling about in blissful hilarity. The kid's name is Bob Dylan. He isn't yet very famous but his manager Al Grossman is with him protectively on that evening in Rome.

I'm absolutely sure that neither Dylan or the late Grossman would remember the incident but herewith my very good wishes to the Nobel prizewinner.

Looking for a photo to include, I came across an astonishingly detailed account by Olof Björner of Dylan's comings and goings, which includes his trip to Rome in 1961 (I'm pretty sure it was actually 1962 but never mind). I've copied the relevant extract below. Also found a photo of Harold Bradley at the Folk Studio around that time.

Harold Bradley (centre) at his Folk Studio in Rome in the 1960s
I found the above photo on this website.


Should Fish More said...

Halcyon days. Thanks for sharing, memories like that are priceless. My wife and I had a similar experience with a 17 year old Jerry Garcia and his band in '65 in SF.


Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Mike, yes! In retrospect I wish I'd carried a camera with me at all times and maybe a tape-recorder too. But in those long-gone days we weren't so techy-minded.

Catalyst said...

On a much smaller scale, I remember a very young Bobby Vee at a concert my radio station sponsored right after his first big hit.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Bruce, I'm embarassed to ask...erm...who is/was Bobby Vee?

Davoh said...

1962. Um, have recently collected some of my pics from then.
Australia. Not Europe ( but we did have fun in Adelaide, Australia - then.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

davoh, I'll go look at your pics now.