Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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NEUWIRTH, Bob

(b 20 Jun '39, Akron OH) Singer, guitarist and songwriter. After studying art in Ohio and Boston, Neuwirth found a source of income in performing and fell into the nascent folk scene in Boston. He met Bob Dylan at the Indian Neck Folk Festival '61 and appeared as Dylan's road manager and companion in D. A. Pennebaker's documentary Don't Look Back '67, shot during Dylan's British tour '65. Neuwirth worked on editing that and on Pennebaker's documentary of the Monterey Pop Festival '67. Debut album Bob Neuwirth '74 met with only limited success, although its cast incl. Dusty Springfield. Guested on Kinky Friedman's Lasso From El Paso '76; went on the road with Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue '75; appeared in subsequent film Renaldo And Clara '77 in the guise of the Masked Tortilla. Back To The Front on Gold Castle '88 found him in the company of Sandy Bull, T-Bone Burnett, Peter Case, Bernie Leadon, David Mansfield and Victoria Williams among others, musical vignettes with sly wit and acuity: 'Private Eye' was a play on the gumshoe genre from Philip Marlowe to Ed McBain, and 'Annabelle Lee' had previously been covered by Burnett on his eponymous album on Dot. He collaborated with John Cale on The Last Day On Earth in Britain '89 and at St Anne's in Brooklyn '90. Second solo album on Gold Castle was 99 Monkeys '90. Neuwirth is one of those people whose precise role is hard to define; many quiz him about Dylan and fail to see that he is one of those who act as the glue that binds a scene together: sitting in the circle when the guitar is being passed around, his songs are as worthy as those of the company he keeps. Producing Vince Bell's Phoenix '94 on Watermelon he was able to assemble a cast incl. Cale, David Mansfield, Geoff Muldaur, Lyle Lovett, Fritz Richmond and Victoria Williams. His own Look Up '96 on Watermelon had a large cast incl. Williams, Sandy Bull, Butch Hancock etc.