Saturday, May 21, 2016

When You Come To Duluth Dylan Fest, Take the Bus Tour to Hibbing and Back -- Five Minutes with Tour Host Mary Keys

Today is May 21. One interesting event that occurred on this day in history was an extensive worldwide survey regarding who was the "most inspirational individual for poets and the dream collaborative partner." The survey was conducted by The Foyle Poetry Society in 2011. The survey asked people which musician and which genre of music most inspired their writing. That Bob Dylan was the most influential did not come as a surprise. What did surprise me, however, is that the people surveyed were young folks from 11 to 17 years old. The next generation is on the move.

BUS TOUR 2016: Friday May 27

Hibbing High School Auditorium
For Dylan fans interested in real history, especially if you're coming to the Northland for Dylan Fest, you can't get a better tour guide for the Hibbing portion of the tour than Mary Keys. The tour will begin at the Historic Duluth Armory where a 17-year-old Robert Zimmerman saw Buddy Holly. All the information you need can be found here on Facebook. The bus will board at 9 a.m. and promises to bring you back in time to freshen up for the Singer/Songwriter Contest at Clyde Iron Works Friday evening. Here's ticket information and a schedule for a day of making memories... or re-visiting them.

Earlier this week I reached out to Mary Keyes, co-owner of the former Howard Street Booksellers, a cornerstone along with Zimmy's of Hibbing's Dylan Days celebration and events.

EN: How did you come to be something of a spokesperson for Dylan's Hibbing relationships and roots?
Mary Keyes: When my husband Joe and I came back to Hibbing (my hometown) in December 2003 to own and run Howard Street Booksellers, we became friends with Linda Stroback Hocking and her husband Bob Hocking. They owned and ran Zimmy's, a restaurant devoted to Bob Dylan. For a number of years at Zimmy's there had been a low-key "Birthday Celebration". Then the Hibbing Chamber of Commerce also began a few events in connection with Bob's birthday. In 2006, along with the Hockings and Aaron Brown, we formed Dylan Days Hibbing, MN, a non-profit organization dedicated to hosting a "celebration of the arts in Northern Minnesota" program of events around Dylan's birthday. So we had a writing contest, writing workshops, art exhibits, Dylan related author events, a singer/songwriter contest, and other music events. We also developed a four-hour Hibbing bus tour, which incorporated Dylan sites and Hibbing history. This tour grew out of requests from so many visitors who came to town to learn about Dylan's roots and discovered a lovely town with an interesting history. Year-round at the bookstore, we met people from all over the world who made a pilgrimage to Hibbing because of their interest in Dylan. We'd talk to them, share stories about the town and Dylan, and sell them a few books.

EN: When people come from out of town, what are the first places they want to see and where are these places located?
MK: We always tell people, "If you've come this far, there are two things you MUST see -- the Hull-Rust-Mahoning mine and the high school." If they are Dylan fans, then we tell them where the house is where Bob grew up. The house is on the corner of 7th Avenue East (2425 Bob Dylan Drive) and East 25th Street. If their visit is long enough, we also send them to the Dylan exhibit at the Hibbing Public Library located at 2020 5th Avenue East.

EN: What are some of the other highlights that a quick visit may not give someone the opportunity to see?
MK: The Memorial Building located at 400 east 23rd Street includes the very fine Hibbing Historical Society Museum (which includes the Hall of Service and Achievement where Bob is honored among other Hibbing folks). The Little Theatre is also in the Memorial Building. There is a special photo enshrined there showing "The Golden Chords" -- one of Bob Zimmerman's high school bands, performing on that stage during a talent contest. The Hibbing Armory located at 2310 Brooklyn Drive is where The Golden Chords put on a "Sock Hop" where they spun records and played a few sets of their own music and thus is the first place where Bob earned money for playing his music.

Grade school, with Bob and classmates. 
EN: What's your favorite point of interest that you like to show people?
MK: I love to show people the high school because most of them think it is going to be your run-of-the-mill school and then they discover something completely different -- a "castle in the wilderness". We also like to take them to a certain railroad crossing where Bob nearly met an early end.

EN: I suppose that there are people around who have memories of when Bob was growing up. Can you share a story or two?
MK: We have heard from one of his good friends that Bob was an impatient guy -- always pounding his foot, always ready to move on. When he and his buddies would go out on their motorcycles, he would always be the leader. "We're on a mission," he'd tell them. They had a "trap-line" of places to go: a store with great motorcycle and music magazines, the music store, a certain cafe, etc.

EN: Anything else you would like to say, feel free to add it here.
MK: Although Joe and I are retired, and our retail storefront is closed, we still order books for people. We also are available to give tours -- we can do JUST the high school, or Hibbing history, or Bob Dylan sites. The cost depends on the amount of time involved and the size of the group. We can be contacted at 218-262-5206.

We will be leading the tour in Hibbing on Friday, May 27, when people come up from Duluth as part of Dylan Fest. It will be a "whirlwind" Hibbing tour, but people will enjoy themselves! There are still places on the bus, so encourage people to get signed up! Maybe you'll be there!?!

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Maybe you live in Duluth and have never really experienced this Hibbing Tour? If you want to make it a four-day Memorial Day weekend, take Friday off and gain some new insights about our region.

Meantime, life goes on.... all around you. And memory-making, too.

1 comment:

Doug Kamholz said...

There was no part of my Dylan Days, now almost a decade past, more enjoyable than the bus tour. (One of the Golden Chords sat across the aisle from me.) And no stop on that tour was more evocative than Echo Star Helstrom's front yard. (Nowhere did the bus have to honk longer to get us back!) I hope there is time for this year's crew to stop there. My thanks to Mary and Joe and others who make Hibbing such a delightful whirl from the north country.