Not long after The Argons, a neighbor down the street named Louie, who was a few years older than me, invited me over to listen to Bob Dylan's records. He mis-pronounced it
Die-Lan, but hearing this music really flipped a switch in me. I liked The Kingston Trio, but this was different. I traded in my electric gear for acoustic guitars (see My First Guitars"), and hopped freight trains with my friends to New York after touring the California coast and a summer of folk singing in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury during "The Summer of Love".
I had played my Folk repertoire all across the country, and found many great folk houses to play in New York. The first night, I played at The Café Wha? There were "open mics" at a few places. There was a great coffee place on the East Side (on 72? Street), and Steve Carney's Place (on Lexington Ave?) not too far away. I would get free coffee and rolls for me and for my friends.
I got a chance to record some of my songs with Bob Callen, a friend of a friend that had a tape recorder. I shopped that tape but it was hard because I had no money for a tape copy, which was expensive, and most record companies wouldn't be responsible to give you your tape back. I went to Elan Productions; Eli Ask and Andy Blue. They worked with The Young Rascals at the time. They were supportive, and gave me kind advice, and invited me to come back with anything new, which I did several times.
One day, I walked I to Albert Grossman's office. He was Dylan's manager, but I didn't even know that; just knew he had something to do with Dylan. It was lunchtime, and he was in the big office by himself. He asked me what he could do for me and I handed him my tape. He listened carefully, then skipped through the tape. He told me that he didn't like my voice, thought my songs were weak, but he really liked my guitar playing. He asked me if I had ever played Calypso. I had played a few Kingston Trio songs, so I said "Yes". Then he asked if I played electric, and I said yes. He asked me if I could go to a rehearsal spot and audition for a Calypso band and I said sure. He then called Manny's Music, asked me what kind of guitar and amp I wanted delivered for the session. I had been playing a Fender Telecaster with The Owsley Blues, so I ordered that and a Fender Twin Reverb amp. He gave me the address on a slip of paper and cab fare. I sat in with Scott Fagan, a Virgin Islander who had sailed into New York with a "new" music; Calypso Rock, very much like Reggae a few years later. I was offered the position with a three-year contract, but against all of Mr. Grossman's great advice and support, I turned it down. I thought I was close to getting a record deal as a Folk singer on my own! Scott Fagan was the first act to perform at the new Fillmore East, opening for Traffic, and Bob Johnston, who I would meet years later, produced the album!
I recorded another demo with Bob Aronsen, a friend of Susie's friend, at his house in Long Island. Susie and I took that demo to Apple Records, the Beatles' new label, got some encouragement, but I was ultimately turned down. I came close to getting my song "6 A.M." on Glen Campbell's first album, but would have had to work a day job at the publishers.
I auditioned for a band called Wings, hosted by Oz Bach, previously the bass player for Spanky and Our Gang (and at whose house Susie and I met each other at), but I didn't have enough experience at the time to play with these veteran musicians.
I did play all of the great New York folk houses; The Bitter End, Gerdes Folk City,
Café Wah?, The Gaslight and others, but the real New York folk scene was pretty much waning down. Susie and I made plans to come out to San Francisco, and took advantage of plane tickets provided us for a family reunion to get as far as Florida.