I didn't see it on the news, so I guess I'd better report it here. Hot Spit went home with the coveted Yid-Weigan Krumkake Iron in Duluth's 14th Annual Battle of the Jugbands. The competition was stiff, as usual.
De Elliot Bros., featuring hizonor Elliot Silberman and friends (Lee Johnson, Ted Gay and yours truly, Ennyman) opened the show with a few of their standards including "I Like It In Duluth." Elliot is the primary force behind the annual Battle, organizing and orchestrating in an effort to make it better every year for the packed Amazing Grace crowds who assemble here just for this occasion. As Dave Lynas noted about Elliot, "He's the one who keeps the music going."
Many from the slate of bands who performed hailed from Minneapolis-St. Paul, and some have jugband roots which span more than four decades. The order in which they performed yesterday was as follows:
One Man Johnson
The Malignant Rumors
and Hot Spit
Mid-afternoon I slipped away to the Duluth Armory for the Save the Armory/Bob Dylan Way Open House. The modest turnout looked sparse inside the cavernous auditorium, especially when compared to the packed out Amazing Grace. This is the hall where Buddy Holly played shortly before his life was cut short in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa.
After purchasing my Bob Dylan Way pin for $5.00 I explored the back rooms, which looked more devastated than even the worst places I'd painted apartments in Minneapolis. Yet when I circulated amongst the faithful and spoke with many of them, all were optimistic about the restoration of this Duluth heirloom which has seen many great concerts during the days of its former glory.
Having just been in the overcrowded environs of Amazing Grace where the Battle of the Jugbands was cookin', the scene at the Armory struck me as especially dismal. The musicians, one of which was this years winner of the Dylan Days Songwriting Competition, were worthy of a larger crowd. I did get to meet John Bushey, host of the Dylan Hour which I listen to almost without fail every Saturday eve at 5:00 on KUMD. Bushey, is turns out is a public school teacher and a professinoal magician who has helped improve his students' test scores by use of misdirection and other techniques. In addition to being a Dylan fan he is a Houdini and handcuff collector.
Among many others, I also spoke with a woman from France who flew to Minnesota for Dylan days, and an artist from Europe who was likewise digging the Dylan ambience this weekend. Quite a few here were in the crowd that night when Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie "La Bamba" Valens performed so long ago. Dylan, too, was in that crown, a 17 year old kid at the time when he heard the music play.