Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Susan Laing Shares Her Incredible Adventure -- From Down Under to Duluth Dylan Fest

Hibbing's Dylan Days and Duluth's Dylan Fest have attracted visitors and fans from from all over the world. Over the years I've had the opportunity to meet, or begin friendships with, folks from England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Australia. This year Susan Laing of Australia made the furthest trek to be part of our weeklong Duluth festival. Her story was quite impressive, for she came to the States to not only walk the glorious hills of Duluth that a young Bob sang about on Planet Waves, but to touch all the major touchstones associated with the Nobel Laureate. What follows is a very brief recap of Ms. Laing's six weeks in America.

EN: Can you share the places you visited while you were here on your six week adventure?

Susan Laing: I arrived in Houston... visited the Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH) ...
I saw the sculptures of (Australian) artist Ron Mueck ...
I saw a fabulous exhibition of Cuban revolutionary art Adios Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950...
Wanting to take in as much American music as possible...
I saw Martha Redbone perform ‘Bone Hill - The Concert’ at the Alley Theatre....
Being a tourist I heard songs from traditional Cherokee chants and lullabies to Bluegrass and Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Rock & Roll, and R 'n B...

I saw the Houston Space Center and, unlike the crew of the Apollo 13 moon flight, I did’t hear the words “Houston, we’ve had a problem here”...

Portal, the Dylan sculpture in Maryland.

The Intrepid Traveller
The point of starting my Dylan expedition in the South was to visit the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa and experience the future hometown of the Dylan archives.
I saw Woody’s original handwritten manuscripts, lyrics, inscribed photographs, early photographs, rare letters, medical records, flyers and films.
I saw paintings, drawings and assemblages.
I saw guitars, a mandolin... felt the dust.
I heard his songs and the songs of all the good people who have travelled with him and since.
I saw Pete Seeger’s exhibition... his film ‘The Power of Song.’

Then on to old New York City... an East Coast city that you all know well... swept on to MacDougal Street... walked a line from the Lower East Side to the ghost of Gerde’s Folk City... I heard the Transatlantic Sessions’ voices of Rosanne Cash, Mary Chapin Carter, Sarah Jarosz, Karen Matheson, Aoife O’Donovan, Declan O’Rourke, John Paul White.

The sculpture working in a medium familiar to all Iron Ranges.
EN: What was it that prompted you to make this journey?

SL: I wanted to attend Dylan Fest.

Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge is a memorable landmark here.

EN: How did you come to be such a Dylan fan?

SL: In 1998 I was living in Sydney and visited the studio of Brett Whiteley. He was a Dylan fan and this was the music he played while working. I had an instant feeling of connection when I heard it.

EN: If you have time, can you share one highlight from each place you visited?

Susan at Fitgers
on Bob Dylan Way
SL: The Tulsa highlight was the Woody Guthrie Centre .... I had no idea of how much there was to his story and his contribution to music, history and American culture

The Hibbing highlight was the grandeur of the castle in the wilderness High School and the Historical Society Museum at the Memorial Centre. In Duluth it was the amazing community of people who join to celebrate all things Dylan in the week long festival.

The boondocks of Hibbing-Duluth are far greater than The City - or Paris!

* * * *
Right: One of three Dylan-themed manhole covers on Bob Dylan Way. 

* * * *
The magic of our town is made moreso by the many who make their way here to visit with us and share memories. Thank you, Susan, for being with us in May. And we loved your hat! (VBG)

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

P.S. The Dylan-machine continues to fire on all cylinders. Reviews of recent concerts on his Never Ending Tour, such as this one in Providence, have been stellar.

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