In years gone by the place to be in late May was Hibbing, MN, young Robert Zimmerman's hometown and the place where his music interests began. Hibbing's annual Dylan celebration is called Dylan Days, which has evolved to songwriting competitions, art and poetry contests, and lots of music.
This year will mark Bob Dylan's 70th birthday and Duluth, where Bob was birthed and lived his first six years in the Central Hillside, will have its first full-fledged Dylan Fest as well. Momentum has been building for years. Here's a quick take on the agenda for that positively fourth week in May.
Guthrie/Dylan Dinner at Valentini's Vicino Lago
The evening of Guthrie and Dylan music by Bill & Laurie Bastian is a fund raiser for the Duluth Armory Arts and Music Center. Duluth's armory was where young Bob Dylan saw Buddy Holly perform his second last show and felt he'd heard the call to pursue a career in music.
Dylan's 70th Birthday Party at Fitger's Brewhouose
The Brewhouse is hopping with Dylan fans. This year will be specialty Dylan beers including Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Hefeweisen. Johnny's in the Basement will be performing Dylan songs. And this is also a Duluth Does Dylan CD release party.
Dylan Film Fest at the Zinema
Two films will be shared, The Other Side of the Mirror: Live at the Newport Folk Festival and Don't Look Back, the D.A. Pennebaker documentary covering young Dylan's first exposure to the England scene, or rather, England's first exposure to Dylan in 1965.
Dylan Art Show opening at the Ochre Ghost. Ochre Ghost is a hot topic in the fermenting Duluth art scene. Dylan paintings and Dylan-inspired work are being gathered for the occasion.
Blood on the Tracks Express
The North Shore Scenic Railroad to Two Harbors will be cranking it up.... and back. On the ticket will be The Bitter Spills, Dirty Horse, The Fontanelles and Old Knifey and the Cutthroats. In Two Harbors Donny Fox and his Rolling Thunder Band will be performing. Donny Fox is, I believe, a two time winner of the Dylan Days singer/songwriter contest. I saw him perform last year at the Armory and he's fun.
Duluth Does Dylan at the Fitger's Brewery Complex.
Two stages will feature The REX and Fitger's Brewhouse original artists from Duluth and the North Country interpreting Dylan material. This event is a fundraiser for the NorShor Theater.
The Million Dollar Bash at Beaner's Central
This songwriter showcase will feature Sara Softich, Erik Koskinen, Diedrich Clark and others to be announced. Great way to wind up the week if you haven't had your fill.
People literally fly in to the Northland from all over the world for Dylan Days in Hibbing and no doubt many will visit Duluth as well. Last year I spoke with artists from Germany and France who came to the Armory event. They'd come for the Hibbing celebration but joined us in Duluth when they heard about the activities emerging here.
One more item for the week will be the installation of the Bob Dylan manhole covers for Bob Dylan Way. I might have to ask for some time off to attend that one.
Meantime, life goes on all around you. Have a great day.