Saturday, October 27, 2018

Lives Touched and Energized: Dylan, Blood, Tracks, Metsa--Part 3

Dateline: Tuesday, October 23 (Part 3)
This is a third a final segment of notes and observations as a guest on the set of Paul Metsa's Wall of Power show this week featuring Bob Dylan's superbly rendered Blood On The Tracks album in the mid-70s. The occasion for this show is the release next week of Bootleg #14: More Blood, More Tracks.

When I say "guest" and I am referring to a bystander role in the peanut gallery. This is just a mop up post of a few additional details and the close of the recording session which will air in three successive weeks beginning tonight on the Metro Cable Network--Channel 6 in Minneapolis.

You can catch Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

* * * *
Taking notes, chatting with Gregg Inhofer
Photo: Rubin Latz.
The musicians who were part of this event all came from different places. Gregg Inhofer and Billy Peterson were playing extremely complicated jazz-rock fusion at the time. Gregg was playing Weather Report, Chick Corea, John Mclaughlin.

Gregg, who was the keyboards here, stated that the ideal outcome is for everyone to feel, “What a great session.” Not, “What a crummy session but wasn’t that organ player great.”

Paul Metsa asked about the bond between the musicians since then. Peter Ostroushko agreed it was something special. Billy Peterson said, “We had never played together before that session. It goes unsung what David Zimmerman had done.”

Inhofer repeated what had been stated already, that serendipity is what made it happen, a simple twist of fate.

Metsa then admitted that he initially did not like the album Blood On The Tracks, a sheepish revelation that he saved till later in the afternoon. He had been so enamored still by Dylan’s “wild mercury sound” on Blonde On Blonde that he failed to appreciate this for what it was. He eventually came around to appreciate what he calls the “mild mercury sound” of Blood On The Tracks.

Someone then noted that, "Trust is what brought these guys together, a Minnesota thing and a great Minnesota moment."

Veteran bass player Billy Peterson (L) with Jon Bream.
Photo courtesy Rubin Latz
Strib music critic Jon Bream said, “For me, it’s my favorite [Dylan album]. Maybe because of these stories, and because it’s his most personal one, a breakup album. It’s a Minnesota album,” he said, adding that it could be called “Blood on the Range, on the Twin Cities, on Minnesota.”

Metsa’s enthusiasm was evident as he stated that Dylan “is an example of Anything’s Possible.”

Kevin Odegard pointed out that it was Paul Metsa who brought them all back together. They began keeping BOTT alive since 2001. There was a concert at 1st Avenue in which it seemed “First Avenue became a spaceship that went around the universe and back” when they played "Tangled Up In Blue."

Back row: Sonny Earl, Kevin Odegard, Billy Peterson
Front row: Gary Lopac, Paul Metsa, Stan Kipper, Gregg Inhofer.

Phil Harder: Ready on the Set.
This, naturally, became a perfect lead in to a resurrection performance of the now classic story in song, "Tangled Up In Blue." But what you'll see on television will be nothing like what actually happened in one respect. There were 12 or 14 microphones to place and seven musicians each singing the various verses. So the mics were set out front, sound checks following, and then mics moved to the rear and overhead and beneath in a variety configurations so as to enable each vocalist and each instrument to be heard and appreciated in a performance that can be only described as heartfelt.

* * * *

Something I've noticed over many years of writing about Duluth Dylan Fest and reading concert reviews on is that seemingly everybody has a "Bob Moment" in which a Dylan song or lyric or album spoke to them in a special way and hooked them in. I've never been in a fraternity, but there's a fraternal sense amongst the faithful, like a family bond.

Matt Steichen, caretaker of Heaven's Door.
Photo credit: Nelson French.
Naturally for myself it was nice to meet more "members of the family" last Tuesday. By mid-morning I was getting to know Mark Odegard, a vet who returned from Viet Nam in 1967 during San Francisco's Summer of Love, perhaps impetus for the song "Summer of Love" on Kevin Odegard's Artifacts CD.

Another member of the clan whom I met Tuesday was Matt Steichen, a writer and Dylan fan who shared some really great Dylan-related stories. On his 18th birthday, 17 years ago, he was in the front row for a concert and "Bob high-fived me," Matt said. How cool is that? Well, it gets better. He actually met his wife at a Dylan show. They now have four kids, ages 9, 7, 4 and 2. Last year when Dylan performed at the Excel Energy Center he brought his son Levi to his first concert and the kid knew almost every song. Obviously some people know how to raise children.

The Pioneer Press did a nice feature on the Steichens which I'm sure you will enjoy: "Without Bob Dylan this Lakeview family might not exist."

Here are a few additional photos from the day.

Paul Metsa, Billy Peterson, Gregg Inhofer
Kevin Odegard, Nelson French, Marc Percansky
EdNote: Nelson French has just notified me that Heaven's Door 
is now on the shelves of Hibbing liquor stores. One more reason 
to visit the town where Dylan grew up.

Meantime life goes on all around you. Engage it.

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