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This Week in Texas Music History: Bob Dylan and the Hawks Perform in Austin

Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll remember the night a famous folk singer electrified Austin.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.

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On Sept. 24, 1965, Bob Dylan performed at Austin’s Municipal Auditorium backed by a rock and roll band called Levon and the Hawks. This was Dylan’s first public appearance with the Hawks, who later would come to be known as the Band and would serve as Dylan’s main backup group. Two months before his Austin appearance, Bob Dylan had upset many of his fans when he performed on electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival. Audiences booed him at Newport and elsewhere for supposedly abandoning folk music and switching to rock and roll. However, when Dylan and the Hawks played in Austin, the crowd responded positively.

The following night Bob Dylan and the Hawks played in Dallas, where they were also warmly received. Dylan later commented that these early Texas audiences were the first to truly understand what he was trying to achieve artistically by blending folk music with rock and roll.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a rockabilly cat who sang his own version of a nursery rhyme.