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Dylan at Mariposa, July 1972   Print

by John Goddard
TheStar (Toronto)
July 9, 2007

It was to be a Mariposa of no superstars.

Then Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot and Bob Dylan showed up.

The 1972 edition of the Mariposa Folk Festival began in low-key fashion on July 3 on the Toronto Islands. To keep the music "authentic," organizers had stopped featuring a big-name headliner daily.

But on Saturday, singer Murray McLaughlin welcomed surprise guest Joni Mitchell to the stage. On Sunday, Bruce Cockburn similarly announced Neil Young.

Dylan had been wandering unrecognized all weekend with his then-wife Sara in a crowd of 14,000 people. With rare exceptions, he had not appeared onstage for six years.

On Sunday, Star reporter Peter Goddard spotted him "in jeans, white shirt and wearing a red bandanna and rimless spectacles," he reported. "(Dylan) stood briefly in a crowd watching some fiddlers before moving to another area to listen to old blues pianist Roosevelt Sykes and blues guitarist Bukka White."

Lightfoot had been wandering, too. After Young's appearance, he sat down at a picnic table, where somebody handed him a guitar and he started singing.

At some point a frenzy started to build. Young retreated to the fenced-off performers' compound. So did Lightfoot. Dylan did the same and when it appeared the crowd might jump the fence, he was escorted off the island in a Harbour Police boat.


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