When Bob Dylan’s five concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area were scheduled in December 1965, the idea was proposed that he hold a press conference in the studios of KQED, the educational television station. Dylan accepted and flew out a day early to make it. He arrived early for the press conference accompanied by Robbie Robertson and several other members of his band, drank tea in the KQED office and insisted that he was ready to talk about “anything you want to talk about.” His only request was that he be able to leave at 3 PM so that he could rehearse in the Berkeley Community Theater where he was to sing that night.
At the conclusion of the press conference, he chatted with friends for a while, jumped into a car and went back to Berkeley for the rehearsal. He cut the rehearsal off early to go to the hotel and watch the TV program which was shown that night and repeated the following week. This is the only full length press conference by Dylan ever televised in it’s entirety. Mary Ann Pollar produced many folk concerts in the Bay Area in the early ’60s, including Bob’s was there. At the tail end of the press conference video you can hear her say “Everyone wants to know ‘where’s the party?’.” The after show party was actually held at Mary Ann’s house on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. Pollar fondly remembered that Bob Neuwirth worked the door keeping out the undesirables. She died in 1999.
During the early 1950’s she began producing folk music concerts, in small club-venues, and larger auditoriums. Early artists included Odetta, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and Rolf Cahn. She later incorporated and operated Mary Ann Pollar Presents, promoting Rock, Folk, and Jazz performers through the early ‘80s. A partial list of artists, many of whom were first introduced to West Coast and/or Bay Area audiences by MAPP, included:
· Bob Dylan
· Joan Baez
· Theodore Bikel
· The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem
· Judy Collins
· The Fugs
· Arlo Guthrie
· Richie Havens
· Curtis Mayfield
· Modern Jazz Quartet
· Nana Mouskouri
· The Persuasions
· Peter, Paul and Mary
· Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl
· Pete Seeger
· Simon and Garfunkel
· Buffy St. Marie
· Nina Simone
· The Weavers
· Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention
In 1971 Mary Ann Pollar founded Rainbow Sign, a black arts and cultural center, in Berkeley, California. Art exhibits by Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Beardon, Dewey Crumpler, and Irene Clark were held there, as well as many community cultural events. Performers presented at Rainbow Sign included Maya Angelou, Abbey Lincoln, John Handy, Taj Mahal, Odetta, Les Ballets Africains, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, poet Eugene Redmond, and many others.
Shirley Chisolm appeared at Rainbow Sign during her campaign for the U.S. Presidency. James Baldwin, David DuBois, and U.S. Senator Ronald Dellums were frequent visitors to the club, as were countless other African-American celebrities from across the country and around the world. The club’s restaurant and bar were a notable meeting place for community members and visitors during Rainbow Sign’s seven years of operation.
In 1978 Mrs. Pollar began yet another career working at AC Transit. Her tenure there was marked by the organization of a new union local for management employees, AFSCME Local 3916. She was elected as its first president and served with distinction. She retired from AC Transit in early 1999, shortly after the death of her husband, Henry A. Pollar.
During her concert promoting career, the after-concert parties held at her home on Racine Street and later on Lakeshore Avenue were legendary. Also during those years and until quite recently, the annual New Year’s Eve parties hosted by the Pollars were attended with great regularity by many close friends and acquaintances from far and wide. Her circle of friends was remarkable including people throughout the United States and around the globe. Many of their children still regard her as a second mother, as her heart seemed to grow to include all of them.
Sitting next to Mary Ann Pollar was Lorie Saxon a long-time friend who often wrote press releases for the concerts that Mary Ann produced.
Up and coming promoter Bill Graham was there as well. He even managed to get Bob to plug an upcoming Mime Troupe benefit show at The Fillmore.
Other notable people in attendence were: Jim Marshall, Gary Goodrow, Larry Hankin, Rollin Post, Phil Elwood, Robert Shelton, Jonathan Cott, Lisa Hobbs, Michael Grieg, Elsa Knight Thompson, Michelle Basil, David Greenfield, Wendy Wayne, John Campbell, Wendy Farre, Jerry Jensen, Claude Mann, Robert N. Zagone, Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Jean Gleason, Laurence Ferlinghetti, Bob Neuwirth and many more.
Courtesy of: The Research of Pamela K. Melenchen & EDLIS Café
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