Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Curators of Rare Dylan Photo Exhibition Select Hibbing for First U.S. Showcase

The U.S. launch of Grammy's travelling Bob Dylan Photo Exhibit will make its first U.S. appearance in Hibbing, Minn., Bob Dylan's hometown. Northland Dylan fans are abuzz as the date selected coincides with the annual Dylan celebrations that take place here in conjunction with Dylan's birthday.

According to GrammyMuseum.org, "Daniel Kramer’s photographs of Bob Dylan document Bob Dylan’s metamorphosis from folk musician to rock-n-roll icon. Curated by the Los Angeles-based GRAMMY MUSEUM, the exhibition features more than 50 of Kramer’s iconic photographs made during 1964 and 1965 when Dylan changed the world of popular music. Included are the recording sessions for BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME, the now famous going-electric concert at Forest Hills Stadium, and private moments of the singer-songwriter who is for many the poet laureate of their time. These seminal pictures of Bob Dylan not only revealed the rising young star to international audiences, they set a standard by which all other rock portraits would be judged."

The exhibit, which first launched in London and Paris earlier this year, will be on display at the Paulucci Space Theater through August 23. If you're familiar with Hibbing you'll want to get on 169 and exit there where you might normally go to the Hibbing Speedway.

The year that photographer Daniel Kramer documented here is one of the most fertile and influential in Dylan's multi-decade career. As I've noted elsewhere, the best way to understand Dylan's significance is to compare the work he was creating to what was taking place in popular rock 'n roll at the time. In '64 the Beatles were #1 and #2 on the Billboard chart with their hits I Want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You. Dylan was singing The Times They Are A-Changin', Only a Pawn In Their Game and the  Ballad of Hollis Brown. In '65 Woolly Bully topped the charts and the Beatles were busy making Help! while Dylan was releasing Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. I hope I'm not sounding like a broken record when I repeat these historical facts.

For this reason, Kramer's photography has special significance, capturing a pivot point in music history.

It didn't take long for the news to spread here in Duluth. All those involved in organizing the North Country Dylan Celebration were heartbroken when word of Zimmy's closing hit the wire. News of the coming photo exhibition has produced a great uplift of spirits both here on the the Range.

Grammy.com posted additional information about the exhibit in a story titled, Photographs Of Bob Dylan Exhibit To Launch May 23, and Rick Kupchella's Bring Me The News includes one of the photos in his announcement, cleverly titled Tangled Up In Black and White. The brief story includes a link to Northlander Aaron Brown's blog Minnesota Brown in which he elaborates on his personal enthusiasm regarding this news. Be sure to click on the links to other Dylan Days information at the end of this piece. Brown has been an active Dylan Days organizer since its founding in 2001.

In more recent years a group gathered to create a corresponding celebration here in Duluth in conjunction with Hibbing's Dylan Days. Duluth was Robert Zimmerman's birthplace and home for six years before his father Abe moved the family to the Iron Range after his first year of kindergarten at the Central Hillside's Nettleton School a few blocks from his house. This year's kickoff event will be held at the Sacred heart Music Center on soon to be re-named Positively Fourth Street. (No, that is only a suggestion and I know of no rumors to that effect. Yet.) The official poster (right) lists the current confirmed list of musicians who will be on hand. Tickets can be purchased at dulutharmory.org/events.

Occasionally I hear people ask why Dylan says he is from Hibbing if he was born in Duluth. I will answer that two ways, first with reason and second my own personal experience. Which experience do you remember more vividly, your first birthday or your first kiss? Which do you remember more vividly, your first diaper change or your first car?

I was born in Cleveland, but moved to New Jersey in my eleventh year. New  Jersey is where i came of age... my first kiss, my first car, the first time I was beat up. When I scooted off to college, Ohio University became my alma mater. From the first day at school, when I was asked where I was from I answered, "New Jersey." Some people knew Jersey a bit and followed up with, "And where in New Jersey?" to which I would reply "Bridgewater, in the middle of the state."

When Robert Zimmerman left home for college, Minneapolis was his new world for a spell. When asked where he was from, he no doubt said Hibbing because his family was still there, his coming-of-age experiences were there, the house he'd lived in was still there.

Occasionally when asked where I'm from I might say I was born in Cleveland, moved to New Jersey the year I turned twelve." But that's a pretty cumbersome word jumble. Even though I've lived three times as many years in Minnesota now as in New Jersey, Jersey is where I grew up.

Dylan's journey is a bit more complicated. Perhaps to protect his family somewhat, like many in show biz, there was obfuscation regarding his roots. Nevertheless, his roots have been integral in his artistic formation. The Iron Range continues to permeate his music. And he has never once dissed Duluth. In point of fact, he has only good to say about this city on a hillside and its fabulous vistas. I'll save that for another day this week.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. And you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

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The full schedule for this year's North Country Dylan Celebration 2014 is now being finalized and will be posted soon. In conjunction with this celebration The Red Mug in Superior will feature Dylan-themed art by regional artists for the month of May. I'm honored to have had one of my own paintings selected for the poster this year. The original can see seen at Goin' Postal in Superior during regular business hours, or at their Third Annual Goin' Postal Spring Art Show April 25.

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