Bob Dylan’s 70th Dream
5/22: The Allen Glazer Project
5/23: Bob Dylan open mic
Live on Grace • 121 Grace Street
5/24: Bob Dylan’s 70th Dream
The Reel Cafe • 100 S. Front St.
It’s rare to see our favorite rock stars and beloved musical inspirations gray and age. Mixed feelings of admiration and depression often ensue. While we wish these geniuses and heroes a long, fruitful life, sometimes Neil Young’s famed phrase “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” rings true.
Thankfully, there are musicians still churning out colossal amounts of energy and exquisite material, even after mid-life crises and hordes of grandchildren. Local musicians Susan Savia, who runs Stone Soup Concerts, and Jeff Sanchez of local band The Clams are preparing to celebrate folk legend Bob Dylan’s lifetime of work in time for his May 24 birthday.
“Dylan is going to be 70, and he’s still touring, he’s still out there playing music and releasing albums,” Sanchez says. “I’ve listened to his music for over 30 years now, and I realize that listening to Dylan three decades ago was not considered ‘contemporary,’ and it is still the same thing today.”
Since November 2010, Savia and Sanchez have been pooling their ideas for the extravaganza. Their creative teamwork has resulted in a three-day party of music and film at Live on Grace and The Reel Cafe, both downtown music venues. Sunday afternoon’s show at Live on Grace will feature Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” in its entirety played by the Allen Glazer Project, with special guests John Fonvielle and other friends. Featuring songs like “Girl from the North Country” (with Johnny Cash), “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” and “Lay Lady Lay,” the album cover shows off a young, handsome Bob Dylan tipping his hat and sporting his acoustic guitar.
“It’s a very short album,” Sanchez says. “So it will probably be an hour-long show with some openers. . . . [On the] album, he was writing country songs, and they’re so beautifully simple, yet with a unique and unusual quality about them. Bob Dylan has always been one of my major musical influences, and I feel he was and is a great, complex songwriter. I really don’t think a lot of people realize how many beautiful songs he’s written.”
Sanchez says the band will play other Dylan songs as well and fill in the gaps with some of The Allen Glazer Project’s original music. Named after Sanchez’s birth name, the band and Dylan have a special connection.
“My wife and I were both adopted,” Sanchez explains, “and we recently found out about our birth families around the same time. The interesting thing is that most of ‘Nashville Skyline’ was recorded on Valentine’s Day, 1969. I found out that is the same exact day my adoption was finalized. It was the day I became Jeff Sanchez.”
The second day of celebration will be a free Bob Dylan open mic held
on the rooftop of the Reel Cafe at Live on Grace. Tuesday’s festivities include a concert from Jim Ashley, Dirty Dakotas, Kim Dicso, Kyle Lindley, Mike Blair and The Stonewalls, Kellie Everett and others, all covering the classics and obscure tracks from one of America’s greatest 20th century songwriters.
On the cusp of his seventies, Dylan has made it quite far. Still putting out albums and performing live shows, including his Grammy 2011 stint with new Americana hipsters Mumford and Sons, one Mr. Rob Zimmerman has always received mixed feedback on his work. Yet it has not slowed down his prolific songbook from growing. He surprised and took our breath away in the late ‘90s with “Time Out of Mind,” and continued doing so in the 21st century with “Love and Theft” and “Modern Times.” The folk master even managed to do a Christmas album in ‘09.
“[It] was very interesting,” Sanchez says. “There were some things on there I can’t believe he tried to sing, while others were just genius and fun. ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ is a hoot; though, I was wondering what he was thinking with tracks like ‘Little Drummer Boy.’”
Bob Dylan’s 70th Dream: A Three-Day Event begins Sunday, May 22, at 3 p.m. at Live on Grace. The entire “Nashville Skyline” album will be covered by The Allen Glazer Project. Admission is $5.
Monday’s open mic at Live on Grace starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, and there are 20 available spots for musicians to participate; it will have a first come, first serve policy.
Tuesday marks the actual birthday of Bob Dylan, and there will be a rooftop show with 25 musicians at Reel Cafe at 7:30pm, along with Dylan film screening on the brick wall next to the Reel. This event is also free to the public.
Both Sanchez and Savia have stressed a very important note: Bob Dylan will unfortunately not be present at any of the events. Instead, come see, hear and feel the spirit of his music and the immense influence he has on many genres, from rock ‘n’ roll to folk to country and beyond.