Saturday, March 7, 2015

Singer Songwriter Contest is an Annual Highlight at Dylan Days... and a Special Treat: The Original Battle of the Bobs

Spring is in the air. Thursday morning it was -28 degrees on my thermometer. At this moment it's 30 above. 58 degrees in the right direction. We're less than two months away from the Homegrown Music Festival and the Northland Dylan Celebration, formerly Dylan Days in Hibbing and Dylan Fest in Duluth. So, I've got music on my mind.

One of the traditional highlights of Hibbing's Dylan Days has been the Singer Songwriter Contest. Bob fans from all over the world have participated in this event.

One of our competitors was Mark Sutton of Sydney, Australia, who wrote the absolutely wonderful "I'm A Bigger Dylan Fan Than You" which is practically an anthem for a lot of us here. Every line is loaded with substance, not one a throwaway. It gives you a sense of the competition when you learn that he didn't win that year. I don't mean to discourage you from throwing your leopard-skin pillbox hat into the ring, but there are some seriously good performers in this even. In past years we've been joined by Dylan performers from England, Scotland and the Continent.

Past winners include Danny Fox (2X), Little Diamonds, a lady from Manchester, England... and many others.

This year's Singer Songwriter Contest is going to be in Duluth for the first time ever. For nearly two decades, the Singer/Songwriter Contest has been one of the most popular events of Hibbing Dylan Days. Due to the absence of the Hibbing event this year, the Duluth Dylan Fest is honored to keep this tradition alive. The singer/songwriter contest is acoustic, with vocal and guitar mics on stage and a house sound system.

There will indeed be some prize money, but more importantly is the thrill of winning the equivalent of a Super Bowl ring, which is to say your name will be cherished in our memories, recorded here at Ennyman's Territory for posterity and talked about back home. And maybe we'll see you forever enshrined on YouTube.

The rules are simple. Perform a Dylan tune and an original song that you have composed yourself.

The event will begin 7 p.m. Friday, May 22 at the Red Herring Lounge here in Duluth. If you would like to perform email duluthdylanfest@gmail.com or visit the Duluth Dylan Fest Facebook page.

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Our Northland Singer/Songwriter Contest wasn't the first of its kind. I wouldn't be surprised to learn they have contests like this in Europe. In fact, someone sent me a link to a video of a similar event in Greenwich Village back in the early 80's. Evidently they were doing "Battle of the Bobs" in New York City. The First Annual Bob Dylan Imitators Contest was held at the Speakeasy Club on MacDougal Street. Here's a recording of this initial Battle of the Bobs, June 22, 1983.


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Meantime, even though our days seem to pass faster than a weaver's shuttle, may you stay Forever Young.

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