Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sister Mary Charles' Engagement and Transcendance Opens Tuesday at the Tweed

St. Francis of Assisi, 1998
Tuesday June 3 is the opening for another really fascinating exhibition at the Tweed. This is an invitation to attend Sister Mary Charles: Engagement and Transcendence.  The opening will be from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Duluth, MN - May 28, 2014 - The Tweed Museum of Art is pleased to announce a new exhibition featuring the work of Sister Mary Charles McGough (1925-2007). The exhibition is a collaboration between the Tweed Museum of Art and St. Scholastica Monastery, and has been guest curated by Peter Spooner. Engagement and Transcendence is the first treatment of this prolific and regionally beloved artist, whose career spanned sixty years. The Monastery holds much of Sister Mary Charles' art and archive and has published a book about her art and life. The book, Saved by Beauty, will be released in conjunction with the exhibition opening.

When you read her story you can see how serendipity played a role in producing this exhibit. According to the announcement she was the oldest daughter of a poor, struggling Duluth family with an Irish Catholic heritage. Upon finishing high school (at Cathedral, which is now Marshall) she entered the St. Scholastica Monastery. In the 1960's one consequence of the Second Vatican Council was for the church to reshape itself for the modern world. Sister Mary Charles, who had already studied art and education, received encouragement to take her interests further as Vatican II affirmed the value art had in Catholic ministry.

I found the next section of the announcement about this show to be especially interesting. It expands one's insight into areas of monastery life that I'd never thought about.

The Threshold, 1969
Sister Mary Charles received a Master of Education Degree from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Notre Dame University in 1964. One of her important teachers and mentors was the printmaker Irving Amen (1918-2011), whose influence can clearly be seen in her prints. The focus of her early artwork was woodcut prints, often depicting young people as they explored play, nature, and art. Her prints were popular and widely collected by Duluthians.

Sister Mary Charles worked in an amazingly wide variety of media, including fabric banners, graphic design, ceramics, wood carvings, mosaic and stained glass. In 1990 she studied traditional icon painting, and created over eighty-five religious icons in the last two decades of her life. Her works grace churches in seven states, and many can be seen in churches throughout the Northland.

The artist taught in the Catholic schools of the Duluth Diocese and from 1956 to 1964 was head of the Art Department at The College of St. Scholastica. Convinced that making art, not college administration, was her true calling, she petitioned superiors to let her establish an art studio in an old carriage house on the McCabe property in Duluth's Hunter's Park neighborhood. They agreed, and "The Barn" was renovated by community volunteers and donated materials. With other Benedictine Sisters she taught a popular summer arts program for children ages 7-13, exposing them to all art media along with experiences in theatre, science, writing, music and dance. Sister Mary Charles believed that experiences with art opened people up to positive experiences of all kinds. "The Barn" program became a model of progressive, multidisciplinary arts education. Hundreds of its participants fondly remember their experiences there.

Peter Spooner is the guest curator for this exhibition. When I asked how this came about he offered the following:

Like all worthy endeavors, it selected me, really. I was still employed by the Tweed Museum when I proposed the Sister Mary Charles exhibition to my colleagues there, sometime in 2010. A few years before that I had been introduced to her work by Joe and Susie Rosenzweig, Duluthians who befriended her in the 1960s, and who supported her in various ways, and collected her work. It immediately struck me as a great subject for an exhibition -- her story had never been told in a formal way, and yet here was all this great artwork, and all of these people who remembered her so fondly, telling stories about her taking part in protests on the steps of Duluth's City Hall, speaking out for peace and social justice.... How could I resist?

I also liked the story of her art as a ministry, and as a means of spiritual seeking - the equation between art practice and spiritual practice has always caught my attention -- we spend way too much time building and defending artificial barriers between art, spirituality and the "rest of life."

When I left the museum in 2012, I was asked to continue working on the project as a guest curator. Along with (but separate from) that role, I was asked by St. Scholastica Monastery to organize and archive their collection of Sister Mary Charles' art and papers, and to help them develop a book about her. The book will be publicly released at the opening of the exhibition on June 3rd.

* * * *
The Tweed Museum is located on the campus of the University of Minnesota - Duluth. If you've never been then I encourage you to go. They have a great collection and a lot of exciting programs and shows. This is a museum that belongs to the public. Take advantage of that. If you can't make the opening reception, this particular exhibit will be on display through the summer.

Meantime, art goes on all around you.... Open your eyes.

Photo Credits
The Threshold 
woodcut on paper, 34” x 24”
Collection of Joe and Susie Rosenzweig

St. Francis of Assisi 
acrylic and gold leaf on wood, 14” x 10”
Collection of Angie Miller and the late Steve O’Neil

Text in blue was taken directly from the announcement about this show.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Local Arts Seen: Blood on the Tracks Express Closes Out 2014 Dylan Fest

You sorta like had to be there. But here's a collection of images from last night's Blood on the Tracks Express, which was essentially a slow train coming and going and going and coming, with a party in between at The Depot Train Museum featuring music by the Boomchucks.

Dirty Horse setting up for part one in the electric end.
Cowboy Angel Blue filled the opposite end with Dylam sounds.
Didn't see no police, but did see a few rules posted.
The train was sold out... 300 tickets available and gone.
The players last night included Dirty Horse, Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, Red Mountain, The Bitter Spills, Cowboy Angel Blue, The Boomchucks and The Black-Eyed Snakes, plus an after Parr-ty with Charlie Parr at the Red Star Lounge.
The Boomchucks: (l to r) Jamie Ness, Brad Nelson, Russ Sackett
The home stretch....
It was a capacity crowd, sometimes loud and always memorable.

Don't forget Duluth Superior Film Festival happenings continue through the weekend. Short films and Trampled by Turtles world premiere of their new Music Video at PROVE tonight. Full details of all the weekend's DSFF events posted at the DuSu Film Festival website

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Blood On The Tracks Express Is Ready To Roll

The Freewheelers know how to get people on their feet.
Another year of North Country Dylan-themed events is wrapping up tonight. It's the Blood on the Tracks Express, leaving the station in less than eleven hours as I write this.

If you're wondering why the event got drop-kicked away from the rest of our Dylan Days events, it's because the bridge to Two Harbors has been under repair. According to the schedule it appeared that the train ride could not happen last week but the work would be completed for this week. Haha. Wrong. The weather got the better of everyone's plans and the famous North Shore train ride to Two Harbors is taking a detour. The music will remain grand.

The train will be leaving the station at 5:30 this evening. More than 200 tickets have been sold and today's Trib story will probably bring us even more. The DNT's Wave describes the event like this:

The train will travel in a Duluth-based loop then stop at the Depot for music at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. The lineup of musicians is a sort of “We are the World” of local players, including Black-Eyed Snakes, Freewheelers, Dirty Horse, Red Mountain, Cowboy Angel Blue, Bitter Spills and the Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank.

The word "loop" is probably a misnomer as I do not believe we have any tracks in this area that actually go in a circle. But the effect will be the same for the travellers. There will be music at both ends of the train as in years past, acoustic at one end and electric at the other, a bar car in between. The train will go North till it can't go any further, then South for a spell. Eventually everyone will de-board at The Depot for a party there, most likely featuring The Freewheelers. After the party it's back to the train for another tour up and down the line.

Last year Sparhawk and company projected such a mesmerizing psycho-syllabic bannister of sound that the train car nearly splintered apart... Tickets are $25.... and it all begins at Fitgers.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Lynchings In Duluth by Michael Fedo

"They're selling postcards of the hanging..." ~ Bob Dylan, Desolation Row

From the postcard of the hanging.
For a compelling read I strongly recommend The Lynchings in Duluth by Michael Fedo. The book is an eye-opening account of one of the darkest moments in Duluth history, well-researched and well-written. Even though its subject matter is close to home -- it happened right downtown -- the insights one can garner from its pages are universal in terms of giving a broader understanding of race relations in America.

The events were real. In mid-June 1920 a travelling circus was in town. A young white couple had gone out to the part of town where the circus was and an incident occurred. When the woman said she was raped, rumors spread and events were set in motion that resulted in outrageous events, culminating initially in the lynching of three black circus workers and later the sentencing of a fourth to thirty years in prison. The harrowing night of that lynching and its aftermath is what this book about.

When I think about the lynchings that took place here I am reminded of Walter Van Tilburg Clark's The Ox-Bow Incident, which Hollywood later made into a film starring Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn. It's a story about a mob that is spurred to action after drawing conclusions based on erroneous information. Noble intentions (a desire for justice) often have ignoble ends.

What makes Fedo's book so compelling is the manner in which the story is told, recounting hour-by-hour the spreading of the rumor, the response by various parts of the city, the responses by police and those in authority, the growing clamor in the streets and the ultimate battle between the mob and the deputies. It must have been a night of terror for the incarcerated black workers as well as for the policemen striving to defend them, putting their lives on the line.

The story doesn't end with the events of that night of violence. There were men brought to trial. First, the white folk who incited the riots were tried. Nineteen men had been arrested on charges of inciting to riot to first degree murder. All were released on bail. The blacks who had been arrested earlier had not even been arraigned. Two of these men would remain in jail for more than five months before going to trial on rape charges.

The trial of the whites did result in a few convictions but, as Fedo notes, "Duluthians found themselves uneasy about convicting men who carried out their own sympathies, and felt the issue would best be forgotten." In other words, in the minds of the public the girl was raped and the victims of the lynchings probably got what they deserved.

The Claywon-Jacvkson-McGhie Memorial in Duluth.
What makes the book masterful is the manner in which the author lays out the facts, the details as they were known, the improbability of what was being claimed and impossibility of the rest of it. Fedo does this carefully because the descendants still live among us. Out of respect for privacy he changed the names of the young woman and her boyfriend in this re-telling, but the evidence is fairly clear that their story was fabricated.

One piece of evidence used to prove that the girl was raped was that she had contracted gonorrhea from one of the circus workers who raped her. Nineteen black men were tested and only one test came back positive, that of Max Mason who said he did indeed have gonorrhea a year previous but was clean now. An inept defense in court resulted in Mason being charged and convicted for rape, and sentenced to 30 years. Fedo shows readers how impossible this was as well, that the girl had an advanced gonorrhea, and that Mason never received any treatment while in jail.... because he didn't need it.

All too often we think of lynchings as something remote and distant. We say to ourselves, "It can't happen here," but it did happen here. Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit gave us a glimpse of the hauntedness that festers beneath the surface when these kinds of things happen. Fedo showed us the unhealthy impact our lynching here had on the black community in Duluth, and the broader community's soul.

The Lynchings in Duluth is available at Barnes & Noble locally, and can also be found at Amazon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Duluth Superior Film Festival Begins Tomorrow

The first couple years one could see all the films by buying a $50 pass, or paying for individual showings a la carte. This year the Du-Su Film Festival has opened wide it arms and made their entire catalog free for all. What an amazing gift.

The featured film for Wednesday's opening at Clyde Iron Works is Expedition to the End of the World. The film will air at 8:00 p.m. and the program will be underway, with a range of films on various themes airing through Sunday, the majority being screened at Teatro Zuccone and the Zeitgeist theaters. Friday evening there will be a number of short films and music videos premiering at The PROVE Gallery starting at 7:00 p.m.

For many, if not most, there will be a guest or guests accompanying the films. In past years we've heard directors, producers and actors talk about their work in various films and this year will be no different.

You can see the full schedule of events and airings here along with trailers.

There is one event that will involve payment. Patty Duke is visiting the Northland and the public is invited Friday evening to meet her at the Sheraton. You can get all the details at the 2014 Duluth Superior Film Festival website.

Maybe we'll see you out on the town! Enjoy the shows.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Just Thinking... of a Series of Dreams

One of the recurring themes in David Kinney's The Dylanologists is how Dylan's fans and followers are forever trying to figure him out. Who is the real Bob Dylan? Some have read the books and studied the lyrics, but have even gone further. This weekend while at the Howard Street Booksellers during Dylan Days in Hibbing I came across Alan Weberman's concordance of the words of Bob Dylan's songs.

In my experience, a concordance is a reference tool that Bible scholars use, the most famous being Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, which included interpretations of the original Greek and Hebrew words of Scripture. The very idea of a Dylan-themed index to his lyrics struck me as somewhat far out. But then again, if one uses it as a tool, and does not imply any equivalence in import between Dylan's words and the Bible, then I can accept such a volume. My guess is that it's a very small audience that this book is written for.

Even with all these tools, the task of "who he is" has to be an impossibility. As Kinney concludes near the end of his book, Dylan goes out of his way to hide himself. "Dylan... preferred to leave people wondering. He preferred the mask. You could even argue that Dylan considered the mask the point of the whole enterprise."

Even his autobiographical Chronicles is rife with deceptions, according to sources I cannot at this time reveal.

Bob and Scarlet, mid-1970's
Whereas some Dylan songs have a straight-up presentation, there are countless others steeped in obscurity, yet sometimes even these have meanings that extend beyond the pale. In my recent interview with the famed violinist I asked Scarlet Rivera what her favorite Dylan songs were. She included Series of Dreams on her short list. Last Tuesday Ms. Rivera unexpectedly attended our Dylan Fest poetry event, so I had a chance to affirm that this was also a favorite of mine. She then said something interesting. She said that her image appeared two times in in the song and the viewer can interpret and decipher what those two appearances mean within this Series of very personal Dreams.

In other words, maybe the Dylanologists who dig for meanings are onto something. There's more than meets the eye. Then again, if there's a lack of clarity,maybe it's intentional. You get out of it what you need to get. If it flies past your comprehension, it is what it is.

* * * *

I get asked from time to time which is my favorite Dylan song, and I laugh. Not possible to list one. I do, however, have lists of favorites. Favorite acoustic, favorite lyrics, favorites that get most played over the years, favorite live versions, favorites for their significance.... Series of Dreams would make a few lists. It has certainly received plenty of playtime in my life. What impresses me in part is how the music conveys the hauntedness of the lyrics. Both -- music and lyrics -- emerge and merge in surrealistic streams from a nebulous center somewhere in the deep places of Dylan's soul, and connect with my own deep places.

The poetic phrasings are woven throughout with an originality that is completely Dylan. Who else would write a song like this? "I was thinking of a series of dreams..." From this matter of fact opening statement everything flows out. It's a mature Dylan making life observations from a place further down the road.

I, too, relate to this imagery because there is an unreal quality to dreams, and in this instance, to memory and ultimately life. There are times when one is older that our memories and experiences are something akin to a series of dreams made of tissue being disintegrated by time. And like the images in the song we try to grasp their meanings which, like dreams, are uniquely our own and not always understood, if there are meanings at all.

* * * *

While preparing for a book signing in Tampa a couple months ago it dawned on me that my own writing career began with a series of dreams. Like many of us I found my dreams fascinating and in seventh grade I decided to begin recording my dreams. My justification may have been that my dreams were more interesting than my real life. As time went on my ability to recollect these subterranean subconscious experiences became very advanced. I could recall up to five fully developed episodes and record them in detail upon waking.

This habit of writing out my dreams resulted in a daily discipline of putting words on paper. After college I began a regular journal, and in 2007 this daily habit morphed into the blog which you are now reading. But it began with...

A Series of Dreams

I was thinking of a series of dreams
Where nothing comes up to the top
Everything stays down where it's rooted
And comes to a permanent stop

Wasn't thinking of anything specific
Like in a dream, where someone wakes up and screams
Nothing too very scientific
Just thinking of a series of dreams.

Thinking of a series of dreams
Where the time and the tempo drag
And there's no exit in any direction
'Cept the one that you can't see with your eyes

Wasn't making any great connection
Wasn't falling for any intricate schemes
Nothing that would pass inspection
Just thinking of a series of dreams

Dreams where the umbrella is folded
And into the path you are hurled
And the cards are no good that you're holding
Unless they're from another world

In one, the surface was frozen
In another, I witnessed a crime
In one, I was running and in another
All I seemed to be doing was climb

Wasn't looking for any special assistance
Nor going to any great extremes
I'd already gone the distance
Just thinking of a series of dreams

Dreams where the umbrella is open
And into the path you are hurled
And the cards are no good that you're holding
Unless they're from other world

I'd already gone the distance
Just thinking of a series of dreams
Just thinking of a series of dreams
Just thinking of a series of dreams


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dylan Days, Dylanology, The Dylanologists and a Happy 73rd to the Elder Statesman of Rock

Yesterday I tried to write a review of David Kinney's The Dylanologists, but got stalled. After three false starts I left for Hibbing for Dylan Days. What a perfect day as far as weather goes. Blue skies and summer's kiss gave the whole town a lift.

As for me, by day's end it could not have gone much better. I saw things I could not photograph, photographed things I cannot share, heard rumors I cannot repeat, made new friends, strengthened ties with old friends and lived to tell about it. I made the trip to Hibbing in the company of John Bushey, host of KUMD's radio program Highway 61 Revisited, which this evening will be dedicated to Bob Dylan's 73rd birthday.

I had two primary aims for the day and the rest was gravy. First, to see the Daniel Kramer exhibit that was making its first U.S. appearance here in Dylan's hometown. Second, to meet David Kinney, author of The Dylanologists, who was going to be signing books at Howard Street Booksellers at 3:30.

The photography of Daniel Kramer was billed as An Exhibition Exploring Major Milestones in Dylan's Career in the mid-1960s. It is a selection of photos co-curated by Daniel Kramer, presented by The Grammy Museum and the City of Hibbing. For the next few months the exhibit will be on display at the Paulucci Space Theatre on the Campus of Hibbing Community College.

Daniel Kramer is a photographer who managed to be in the right place at the right time as far as rock history goes, the year everything changed, 1964-65. Many of his iconic photos from that year are familiar to all of us, including the album covers for Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. Since we were not permitted to take photos of the photos, the best way to see examples of his work is to do a Google search. As it turns out, it was a Daniel Kramer image that Simon & Schuster used for the cover of The Dylanologists.

Bob Santelli, executive director of the Grammy Museum, was on hand to welcome us to the opening. What a small world it is, as Mr. Santelli's had previously been executive VP at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, my own home town till I was 12. When I went to college in 1970 (Ohio University) the first girl I met while waiting in line at Convocation Hall to sign up for classes was from Cleveland. She agreed to see me and that evening shared the vision her circle of friends had for a Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Though it took more than a decade the dream was achieved. Santelli, who served there in the 90's, stated that he spent seven years trying to get a Bob Dylan exhibit there.

The current exhibit primarily features what appears to be 14"x 20" black and white photos framed and mounted against a blue background. The images are striking, in part because of the clarity and quality of the reproductions themselves, and in part because of their familiarity. Many of these images have become a part of history, much like Matthew Brady's historic images of Civil War battlefields.

Members of the media had the privilege of viewing the exhibit from 4-5 and then at 6:00 p.m. a Skyped interview with Daniel Kramer was scheduled to take place, conducted by Mr. Santelli. The Skype feed failed to give us an image, but it succeeded in providing an audio feed and the interview provided many special insights into both Mr. Kramer's experiences of that year as well as his career making pictures.

Bob Santelli interviewing Daniel Kramer via Skype.
Mr. Santelli began by outlining the path this exhibit took to reach us here, and where it will be headed. It was originally unveiled in Paris, travelled to London and now to Hibbing, the correct place for its U.S. grand opening... and Dylan Days being the proper time. From here it will travel to Little Rock, a place in Mississippi and to Tulsa's Woody Guthrie Museum. Ultimately it will be housed in L.A.

Daniel Kramer began by saying he was sorry he could not be with us, but that his wife took ill and he had to stay home this week. Bob Santelli then conducted the interview, which lasted nearly an hour. How did you get into photography? What was your first experience of Dylan? What is it about Dylan that is so compelling? etc.

Mr. Kramer indicated that he did not know who Dylan was at all until he saw him sing The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll on television. He said, "It was his words that found me."

It took the photographer six months to get the Woodstock shoot to happen. It was to be an hour in length but ended up being six hours. He did not hear Dylan sing at the time, only spent time with him doing various things. Dylan then invited him to a concert in Philadelphia, thus beginning the long year.

What was significant here is that before that year he was "Bob Dylan" and after that year he was Dylan. The musician went from artist to icon.

When asked how he got this assignment (or relationship) he said, "I sell trust. I feel a responsibility to protect my subjects."

He described being present for the Bringing It All Back Home sessions, which was a totally new kind of music. He observed Bob way of talking to the musicians. His comprehensive understanding of all that was going on far exceeded his years. He was still a youth.

What was important to Kramer was not the images themselves, but how they revealed the inner person. He twice made reference to the notion of "peeling back the layers of the onion."

When asked what other people he has photographed and he mentioned three years of shooting Norman Mailer, plus many writers, actors and others, including Janis Joplin.

When asked if there was a particular image he was fond of from the collection he commented on the famous shot of Dylan with his hand in front of his face, twinkling eye glistening. It was as if he were saying, "Now you see it, now you don't."

Dylanologists David Kinney and John Bushey
There was a fairly large audience on hand in the theater there, and afterward all were invited to the reception, which included a variety of pastries and desserts plus juice. The lingering crowd -- which included Hibbing dignitaries, Dylan fans, locals, and author David Kinney -- seemed energized by the show and the experience.

David Kinney had earlier made a presentation at a book signing at Howard Street Booksellers at 3:30 p.m. It only seemed natural that a Dylan fan who wrote a book about Dylan fandom would be present for Dylan Days. This was his second Dylan Days event, the first being in 2011 as he was researching his book.

Because of the temporary closing of Zimmy's, the singer/songwriter contest -- which has always been a highlight of Dylan Days -- was moved to the Crown Ballroom, an utterly different venue, but not so different event.

There are far too many other impressions to share from yesterday's excursion, but today's another day and it's time to get on with it. There will be a review of The Dylanologists sometime soon. (Thank you, Mr. Kinney, for contributing to this special day. And to Joe and Mary, owners of Howard Street Booksellers. And to you, too, Bill.

Today, Bob Dylan is celebrating his 73rd birthday. Daniel Kramer began documenting that pivotal year of rock history exactly a half century ago. What a great way to celebrate this major milestone, with friends and fans from all over the world, sharing and making memories.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Celebrate it.

A few of the treats at Howard Street Booksellers.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Floodgates Are Open: Spring Is Here and So Is Dylan Days

Oakland, Feb 11, 1974
"Floodgates, also called stop gates, are adjustable gates used to control water flow in flood barriers, reservoir, river, stream, or levee systems. They may be designed to set spillway crest heights in dams, to adjust flow rates in sluices and canals, or they may be designed to stop water flow entirely as part of a levee or storm surge system." ~ Wikipedia

"Open the floodgates" is an idiom meaning "if an action or a decision opens the floodgates, it allows something to happen a lot or allows many people to do something that was not previously allowed." The action I am thinking of is the advent of spring. This is not a human construct, but here in the Northland it just happens to happen that when the freezing and cold weather lift, Northlanders are determined to get outside or get out and about. We want to move. We want to shake a leg. And there's an abundance of things happening to beckon us forth.

Last year, there was an attempt to formally orchestrate May as Arts Month here, but it happens on its own anyways, beginning with the Homegrown Festival. We're in the middle of Dylan Fest Duluth, and on the threshold of Dylan Days Hibbing. And within the week the Duluth Superior Film Festival will get underway.

Tonight Cowboy Angel Blue will be performing at the Red Star Lounge starting at seven, and "Cowboy" Jim Hall will be performing at Tycoon's Alehouse at ten, all part of the North Country Dylan Fest here. After this the action moves to Hibbing.

Highlights will include a 3:30 book signing at Howard Street Booksellers by David Kinney, author of The Dylanologists, followed by the public opening of the GRAMMY Museum Traveling Exhibit "Daniel Kramer: Photographs of Bob Dylan."

Later that evening will be the famed Dylan Days Singer/Songwriter Contest at the historic Crown Ballroom (214 E. Howard St.). This event draws competition from all over the world and is always a thrilling part of the weekend.

Saturday is Bob's birthday, and you can read more about the rest of this weekend's activities at the official site.

If you aren't going to be in Hibbing tomorrow, there's going to be a wonderfully intimate performance by Scarlet Rivera and Gene LaFond Friday evening at The Green Door in Beaver Bay (up the North Shore).

By the way, you don't need to be a big Dylan freak to enjoy the Dylan Days events. Most of them are simply energizing social occasions and an excuse to get together with friends, to do something you just don't happen to do every day. You really don't have to believe that Dylan has been as significant as Gutenberg. For a fun read check out Christa Lawler's column today in the Trib.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Open the floodgates and dive in.

Photo Source: From the private collection of a friend.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Dylan Fest Poetry Event at the Red Mug

ARAC Seeking to Fill an Internship Position

The other night I was tagged on Facebook by a Professor of Rhetoric at UMD who suggested that I might know a writer who would be suitable for an internship at the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. This is a paid position. I know a few writers read this... but if it is not for you, pass  it along.

Social Media Internship (Paid) 

Summer Only 
I recommend contacting as soon as possible so you can find out what you need to submit by the June 1 deadline for consideration.

The Arrowhead Regional Arts Council (ARAC), located in Duluth, serves individual artists, nonprofit arts organizations, informal arts groups, community education organizations, and non-arts nonprofit organizations that reside in the 7 county Arrowhead Region in northeastern Minnesota. ARAC is one of 11 regional arts councils in Minnesota who awards grants to individual artists and nonprofit arts organizations. Our mission is to facilitate and encourage local arts development, and this mission statement grows from a conviction that the arts improve the quality of life in the to by Sunday, June 1st.

This was also in the post:  We are looking to hire a Media Relations Intern for the summer of 2014. The focus of the position will be on developing and doing outreach for the local arts community in the Arrowhead Region. This will also include building out our social media platform by contributing to and maintaining our social media sites, as well as contributing to a monthly newsletter. The ideal applicant will be creative and have an expressed interest in the arts, the arts community, and not-for-profit work. In addition to this, the intern is expected to be self-motivated, an open communicator, have strong interpersonal skills, and be able to create and maintain professional relationships out in the community.

The internship is a great opportunity for an individual to get hands-on experience in the unique field of art funding, how to create community relationships, the field of social media, and will give the applicant the ability to build marketing, communications, and public relations skills. The intern will report to and work closely with the Operations Manager to further the Council’s media relations goals. (

Location: Northeast MN Activity Area: Arts, Culture and Humanities

Category: Public Relations and Marketing Closing Date: Jun 1, 2014

Job Type: Intern
Salary: $14/hr
Hours: 15-20 hours per week

- Promote development by connecting local organizations through a shared interest in, and work within, the local arts

- Produce written and visual social media content, while promoting and maintaining social media sites

- Draft and edit marketing materials and press releases

- Help to create and manage a database of local artists, organizations and contacts in the Arrowhead Region

- Help to research and develop Council outreach and communication policies

- Research and promote articles, resources, and happenings within the local arts community

- Work within an open and creative learning environment where interns and staff collaborate and co-learn

- Pursuing or recently earned a degree in Public Relations, Marketing, Arts or related field .

- Proficient in Microsoft Office and all major social media platforms

- Strong interpersonal skills and detail oriented

- Demonstrated ability to communicate well both verbally and written

- An interest in and desire to strengthen the local arts community

- Excellent time management and organization skills

- Proven ability and experience with social media campaigns to connect with bloggers and other influencers within that space to promote programs

- Knowledge of website editing and content management preferred Academic credit is available through this position. Please submit a letter of interest, resume, a brief writing sample, and if possible, a sample of your social media

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tonight: Dylan-Themed Art and Poetry Showcase

If you've not made it over to The Red Mug yet this month, tonight is a good evening to do so as we will be gathering there for our Artist Reception and Poetry Showcase. The Dylan-themed artwork has been capturing a lot of attention and will only be up for ten more days.

The announcement I saw read like this:

Art Exhibit and Poetry Showcase
Poetry reading celebrating the voices of the Northland
May 20, 2014 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Red Mug Coffeehouse—916 Hammond Ave., Superior
Reception and Refreshments ~ 6:30 p.m.

Red Mug Presents Art Inspired by Bob Dylan: Margaret Manderfeld * Moira V. * Sterling Rathback * Adam Swanson * Becky Buchanan * Timothy Beaulier * Sue Rauschenfels * Gina Lafond * Patricia Canelake * Katherine Anscomb * Tonja Sell * Mary Beth Downs * Ryan Murphy * Patrick Ginter * Linda Lyons * Ed Newman

The slate of poets includes much-respected names with extensive publication credits and awards, along with a local hack tacked on at the end (the author of this blog, who considers it an honor to be listed amongst so many distinguished poets.) The current menu will run like this: Ellie Schoenfeld, Ryan Vine, Tina Marie Higgins, Nicholas Nelson, Liz Minette, Kathleen Roberts, Phil Fitzpatrick, Don Dass, Jeffrey Woolverton and myself.  Woolverton, founder and chief editor of Black Umbrella Books, assembled the playlist.

Speaking of playlists, Karen Sunderman, producer of The PlayList (WDSE/WRPT) will be the master of ceremonies.

Rumor has it that Suzy Johnson, proprietor of The Red Mug, is preparing some very special Dylan-themed fingerfoods for the occasion including Lay Lady Ladyfingers, Tangled Up In Blue Cheese, and "It Ain't Meat, Babe."

The North Country Dylan Celebration is an annual excuse to get out and meet new friends with some common interests such as music, art and life. For more information, visit, and

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Celebrate it....

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Usual Fun: Trivia Night at Carmody's

The Master of Ceremonies always makes it special.
Carmody's Irish Pub in Downtown Duluth is becoming the annual place to be on Sunday night during our North Country Dylan Fest. Sunday's have been trivia night there for many years, but one evening per year it's Dylan-themed trivia. And the answers, my friend, are blowing in the wind.

This year I was given the privilege of creating the contest, and in the usual fashion it is a multiple choice quiz in which even if you're clueless, your odds are still one in four. Here's a chance to test your wits, and one-up your friends.

1. Which of the following is NOT a Dylan related website?
a. b. c. d.

2. Why did Dylan, who lived in Woodstock, NY, not perform at Woodstock?
a. He was not in the mood. b. He was recovering from a motorcycle accident. c. He was packing for the Isle of Wight festival that he was headlining. d. He was producing a film in Hollywood.

3. The Martin Scorsese documentary about Dylan is titled….
a. Don’t Look Back b. No Direction Home c. Dylan Does Dixie d. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

4. In addition to being a song writer, Dylan is also…
a. A sculptor b. A clarinet player c. A novelist d. A physics professor

5. Which of these is the latest release from the Dylan catalog?
a. Tempest b. Bootleg Series, Volume 10 c. The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration d. The Best of Bob Dylan Volume 4

6. Which song was NOT the first song on a Sixties Dylan album?
a. Like a Rolling Stone b. Girl from the North Country c. If Not For You d. The Times They Are A-Changin’

7. Bob Dylan Way in Duluth starts on…
a. Highway 61 b. Michigan Street c. Positively Fourth Street d. Grand Avenue

8. The tender and beautiful song Lay Down Your Weary Tune was performed live only once, in 1963. If you wanted to hear it today, which album would you need to listen to?
a. Highway 61 Revisited b. Biograph c. Bootleg Series Volume 12 d. Another Side of Bob Dylan

9. This is one of Dylan’s longest songs. It begins with these lyrics: With your mercury mouth in the missionary times And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes
What is the title of the song?
a. Nettie Moore b. Dreaming of You c. Highlands d. Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands

10. Which of these was NOT a double album or double CD?
a. Blonde on Blonde b. Greatest Hits Volume 2 c. Bootleg Series Volume 7 d. Together Through Life

11. Scarlet Rivera was the featured violinist on Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue and What Album?
a. Blood on the Tracks b. Infidels c. Desire d. Street Legal

12. One of Bob Dylan’s best friends broke his neck in an accident in high school. When Dylan later became famous he remained a life-long friend. His name was:
a. Jack Frost b. Larry Kegan c. Bill Berg d. Ian Bell

13. Dylan, when interviewed by Rolling Stone, expressed his feelings about Duluth in this way:
a. He didn’t want to talk about it. b. “When I was in Hibbing I wanted to be Little Richard.” c. “I like the way the hills tumble to the waterfront and the way the wind blows around the grain elevators.” d. “I’ve often thought I should have been born in San Francisco.”

14. Which of these people did NOT play Dylan in the film I’m Not There?
a. Luke Wilson b. Cate Blanchett c. Richard Gere d. Christian Bale

15. Only a Pawn in Their Game is about the shooting of what civil rights leader?
a. Malcolm X b. Blind Willie McTell c. Dr. Martin Luther King d. Medgar Evers

16. What two instruments did Dylan play in his 2013 concert in Bayfront Park
a. Harmonica and guitar b. Guitar and Piano c. Piano and harmonica d. Tambourine and Guitar

17. How old was Bob Dylan when he moved with his family from Duluth to Hibbing?
a. 9 b. 6 c. 3 d. 11

18. Dylan has performed this song in concert 2198 times, more than any other song he’s written, but it was not on his first 8 albums. What is…
a. Tangled Up In Blue b. Blowing in the Wind c. All Along the Watchtower d. Norwegian Wood

19. When did Dylan first meet the Beatles?
a. August 1964 at the Delmonica Hotel b. Backstage on the Ed Sullivan Show, January 1964 c. Backstage at Dylan’s first concert in Manchester, England, April 1965 d. June 1965 at the Chelsea Hotel

Zane B: Winner of the Scarlet Hair
20. Dylan won a Grammy for what comeback album in the late 90’s?
a. Love and Theft b. Time Out of Mind c. Modern Times d. Christmas in the Heart

21. Dylan has famously produced quite a few LONG very long songs. Which of the following is the shortest? a. Desolation Row b. Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands c. Highlands d. Fourth Time Around

22. Which of these writers did NOT write a book about Bob Dylan?
a. Greil Marcus b. Howard Sounes c. Kiki Stone d. Robert Shelton

23. Which of the following albums was NOT part of the trilogy of albums recorded during Dylan’s “Gospel Period”?
a. Shot of Love b. Oh Mercy c. Saved d. Slow Train Coming

24. The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. Which one of these was not one of the questions?
a. How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?
b. How many years must some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?
c. How many ways must he seek till he finds a path to that satisfied mind?
d. How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?

25. In what song did Dylan write this line: “There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.” a. Jokerman b. World Gone Wrong c. All Along the Watchtower d. All the Tired Horses

Tonight the celebration continues with Dylan-Themed Grog Time featuring Russ Sacker and Jamie Ness at Tycoon's Alehouse in Duluth. That will begin at 4:00 p.m. And tomorrow is our Dylan-Themed Art Exhibition and Poetry Showcase at The Red Mug in Superior with a start-time of 6:30 p.m. Hope to see you on the scene.

Crack team of Dylan scholars discusses accuracy of question 19.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Embrace it.

1-10: d, c, b, a, c, c, b, b, d, d
11-20: c, b, c, a, d, c, b, c, a, b
21-25: d, c, b, c, c

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Brief Review of Last Night's Stellar Dylan Fest Kick-Off Concert at Sacred Heart

Last night the Northland was given a treat: a concert billed as A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan. If you were there, you know you were glad you didn't miss it. I know it exceeded my expectations five-fold.

Marc Pecansky, Billy Hallquist and Nelson T. French were the principles behind this event which was again designed to raise awareness the Armory Arts and Music Center building fund. Percansky is a a Twin Cities magician and producer known as Magic Marc. Hallquist a musician central to the Blood on the Tracks performances that this event morphed from. French is, of course, one of our local advocates serving on the board for the restoration of the Armory.

The Sacred Heart Music Center is a former Catholic Church which has gained a reputation as an exceptional music and arts venue. Last night's concert demonstrated once again why. The stained glass windows, pillars, ornate woodwork and balconies and fabulous acoustics conspire to produce a wonderfully full surround-sound experience.

Magic Marc: It's Showtime
The doors were opened early in the day so that the musicians could set up their gear, do their sound checks and get everything in order. Late afternoon found everyone getting away for a spell to either rest for the long night or get costumed for the bash to come. At seven the show would start.

A good crowd had ambled in by seven as the sun had begun its descent with a flourish of illumination behind the variegated stained glass symphony of color. The event opened with Marc Percansky, decked up in showman style, introducing us to the evening with some magic he had prepared, after first acknowledging the unexpected recent passing of one of our local artist performers, Gary Reed.

John Bushey, host of the Dylan-themed KUMD radio program Highway 61 Revisited, shared some of his own magic, tying it to Dylan in this manner. Bob Dylan's favorite magician was Harry Houdini. Like Houdini, both men were born with other names -- Erich Weiss and Robert Zimmerman -- and both men were of shorter stature physically, but both men became giants in their field: the world's greatest magician and the world's greatest singer-songwriter.

The tricks Bushey performed were, he claimed, favorites of Harry Houdini. And he performed each while saying, "This is the way Harry Houdini would have done it." The rope tricks and ring tricks were a special treat for those near the front whose mouths were agape with wonderment.

Next, two students from the Armory Arts and Music Center (AAMC) were introduced to play some original music. From a show production perspective this permitted latecomers to slip in to continue filling the room while sharing one of the underlying motives for this event. When the boys were done, the band made its entrance: Matt Fink (keyboard), Bill Hallquist, Gary Lopac, Lonnie Knight, Chico Perez, Stan Kipper and Ralph Dacut.

At this point it would be useless to try to convey how fluid they were, opening with Chimes of Freedom. The various musicians each took a verse on some of the songs, and on other songs a single musician was featured as when Stan Kipper sang High Water (for Charley Parker). Seven songs into the concert my only thought was, "How could one man write so many great songs?" My Back Pages, Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You, It Ain't Me Babe, You Ain't Goin' Nowhere, and Tangled Up in Blue formed a seven-star studded opening crown of spendid musicianship and rockin' stimulation.

Jim Hall
Local musician Jim Hall then took center stage to perform Simple Twist of Fate, and one wonders what its like to have such a strong backup band. In fact, the band was so tight you's think they were a regular touring company.

Jamie Ness gave us Maggie's Farm next, in the style of The Freewheelers. Man they were rocking now, and into it. So was the audience as dancing had begun in the aisles.

Kenny Krona did his Quinn the Eskimo , followed by Barbara Meyer's engaging version of Blowing in the Wind.

The backing musicians left the stage and Courtney Yasmineh did a heartfelt solo rendition of The Times They Are A-Changin', which gave some people goosebumps.

Showman Paul Metsa then grabbed the stage for a solo production of She Belongs to Me, and you knew this was no ordinary night. Just Like a Woman closed out the first half of the show.

Hallquist & Geno work out second half details backstage
After an interlude/intermission Nelson French made a brief presentation on the AAMC, his passion that he hoped would be ours. This Armory project is only one of the restorations he is working on. In his day job he is active the restoration and preservation of the St. Louis River and other waterways feeding the Great Lake of Superior.

After the intermission the band gave us a heat-producing Not Fade Away, the one cover here that Dylan did not write. The song is credited to Buddy Holly, whom Dylan claims to have stood within three feet of at Holly's second-to-last concert, here in Duluth's Armory.

Troubador Paul Metsa
The second portion of our show saw continued to feature various singers with From a Buick 6 (Barry Thomas Goldberg), I Wanna Be Your Lover (Steve Grossman) and Watching the River Flow (Arnie Fogel)... all leading up to the introduction of that very much respected red-headed lady who debuted with the Rolling Thunder Revue and was dynamically captured on Dylan's Desire album. With Gene Lafond singing, Scarlet Rivera's electrically charged violin playing sizzled with power that utterly mesmerized the room. Upon completion of the song everyone leaped to their feet to offer a standing ovation. 

Scarlet herself introduced the next song by stating that this was the one cut on that Desire album that was recorded in one take. Upon completion of One More Cup of Coffee, the crowd was again on its feet demonstrating their appreciation.

After Forever Young, featuring Hallquist, Lopac and Lafond on vocals, James Loney came out to sing Serve Somebody, accompanied by his Ghostettes. Lonnie Knight gave us Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues, then the opening bars of Like a Rolling Stone filled the room. It's All Over Now Baby Blue became a group sing and the evening closed with I Shall Be Released.

The evening began with magic and it ended with magic. Here are a few more photos, but I would rather give you the music.... It was a very special night.
Jamie Ness, center stage.
Barbara Meyer in the spotlight.
Soulful solo by Courtney Yasmineh
Hurricane brought the crowd to its feet.
One More Cup of Coffee.... 

The after party lasted till three a.m., but I had been sleeping more than three hours by then, needing to conserve my strength for the week ahead: our North Country Dylan Fest. Tonight it's Dylan Trivia Night at Cormody's Irish Pub. 9 PM.... Test your wits against the best, and the rest.

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