Sunday, May 24, 2015

Another Memorable Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan

Duluth Dylan Fest: Day Eight

Mid-day rehearsal.
It's Bob Dylan's birthday today. He's performing in Germany this weekend, so he'll miss the birthday bashes taking place in various parts of the country here. That's O.K. The music will go on.

Last year's Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan here at the Sacred Heart Music Center was so exceptionally received that the Armory Arts and Music Center (AAMC) decided to do it again, only with a twist. This year it would be an Acoustic Salute. And the event was stellar.

The assembled performers included many of last year's cast from the Salute, but also included a number of new names from our Northland region including The Boomchucks (Brad Nelson and Jamie Ness), Gaelynn Lee,  Rob Wheeler, Sam Miltich, Todd Eckart, lliot Silberman and myself. Returning faces (or voices) included Kenny Krona, Jim Hall, Courtney Yasmineh, Barbara Meyer, Billy Hallquist, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo, Lonnie Knight and headliner Scarlet Rivera.

The show began with a couple of students from the AAMC performing music while the crowd sauntered in. A few minutes before showtime host/MC Marc Percansky introduced a special guest, Mayor Don Ness, who was one of the people who played a central role in bringing Bob Dylan Way to fruition. Mayor Ness was there to make an unexpected Official Proclamation. For her continuous support for our city and its history and the preservation of our resources and future, this day, this Perfect Duluth Day, would be henceforth remembered as Scarlet Rivera Day in Duluth.

This proved to be a really nice touch to make an even great day more special.

Backstage with Todd Eckart
The Boomchucks then kicked in with a pair of songs performed in their inimitable style, I Threw It All Away, and a nine minute version of Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie.

The manner in which the concert was produced proved interesting. Rather than have setups after each performer, the various groups would come out in sets. This would allow a more efficient production. All the sound arrangements had been made during a mid-day rehearsal session.

While The Boomchucks' equipment was being torn down John Bushey, host of KUMD's Highway 61 Revisited, performed a bit of magic... and as always, blew a few minds.

The second set featured Gaelynn Lea, Kenny Krona and Rob Wheeler, Wheeler opening with Dignity. Krona played She Belongs to Me and Gaelynn Lea performed Let It Go. Many of us have been familiar with Ms. Lea's violin work, but the use of looping technologies produced some incredible sounds, especially when she performed a stunning rendition of All the Tired Horses. I think there were people picking their jaws off the floor after that. Kenny Krona also did Someone Let Me In and Rob Wheeler did Dreamer's Waltz in this set.

Scarlet working out her parts with Jim Hall
Jim Hall opened the third set with Tears of Rage (accompanied by Scarlet) and Courtney Y concluded it with one of her own songs, Hang On For The Ride. In between Elliot and I sang One Too Many Mornings. When Courtney was playing You're A Big Girl Now I badly wished to put in that harmonica lick I was hearing in my head, but I didn't know what key she was in. Alas....

As the night wore on the sets kept getting better, if that's at all possible. Set four featured Sam Miltich (Don't Think Twice and Girl from the North Country), Todd Eckart (Lay Lady Lay and My Sweet Friend), and Barbara Meyer (I'll Be Your Baby Tonight and Autumn Leaves.)

Mayor Ness proclaiming this to be Scarlet Rivera Day.
Highlights of the last set for me included Billy Hallquist's tender Tomorrow Is A Long Time, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo's Born In Time, Lonnie Knight's All Along the Watchtower and Scarlet Rivera's Every Grain of Sand. And of course any time Scarlet performs something from Desire, such as One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below), there's electricity in the air.

So, in short, thank you to everyone involved in this stellar fundraising event for the Armory... too many to name, including sponsors.

Oh, and hats off to Bob Dylan. Happy 74th Birthday. Thank you for what you have inspired in us.

* * * *

A few quick reminders. There's a Bob Dylan Birthday Brunch at Tycoon's Alehouse this morning from 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. and Bob Dylan Birthday Cotillion featuring Scarlet Rivera, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo tonight at the Clair Nelson Community Center in Finland.

If you're inclined to stay in town, the 19th Annual Battle of the Jugbands is taking place today at Amazing Grace from 1 - 8 p.m.

Music, music everywhere. It's a beautiful thing.


Marc Percansky said...

Nice review and recap, Ed. It sure was a wonderful evening and all the artists gave their best! Extra special thanks to Nelson T. French for pulling all of it together and getting the job done right!

The AAMC - MRC (Music Resource Center) students that performed at the top of the evening were:
Andrew Silverio & Kaylee Matuszak

I will post a complete set list to this webpage soon (
In the meantime additional songs that were played included:

The Boomchucks - It's Good To Be A Rolling Stone
Jim Hall - Problem Tune
Ed Newman - What Good Am I?
Billy Hallquist - Subterranean Homesick Blues & Buddah's Rosary
Lonnie Knight - Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues & This One's For You
Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo - Crash On The Levee (Down In The Flood) & Listen To Your Heart
Scarlet Rivera - The Sacred Wheel Of Give And Take

Lastly I started the evening off with an original poem by Bob called:
My Life In A Stolen Moment.
We closed out the show with all the artists on the stage singing:
I Shall Be Released.

Marc Percansky said...

As promised, Ed.

Here is the link to the complete final Set List for the evening (

I am not Bob Links ( but I do my best!

Ed Newman said...

Thanks, Marc, for the comments and links. And for your role in making it happen.

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