Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Spotlight on Rolling Thunder: Louis Kemp's Dylan & Me, and Scorsese's Netflix Release on the Revue

It's been quite a while since we've had a "slow year" in terms of energizing roll-outs pertaining to the life and work of Bob Dylan. 2019 appears to be no different. Nearly everyone (in Dylan Land) is aware of the gathering in Tulsa in a couple weeks. Most have read that there will be an art exhibit at the Glicrease Museum there featuring portraits painted by Bob. If not, Rolling Stone gave it some ink here. The exhibit is called Bob Dylan: Face Value and Beyond. Perfect timing to coincide with The World of Bob Dylan Symposium from May 30 to June 2.

Another pair of echoes can be heard in the much anticipated Martin Scorcese adaptation of the massive quantities of footage filmed during the epic Rolling Thunder Revue. The Scorsese film will launch June 12 on Netflix. It will also have airings in a number of cities around that same date. For fans in Minnesota, The Walker Cinema in Minneapolis will be airing the film on June 11 @ 7:00 p.m.

Wed this and Tulsa with the release of Louis Kemp's book, Dylan & Me, and and you have a trifecta, better known in the local Minnesota vernacular as a "hat trick."

A little background on Louis Kemp. When I moved to Duluth in 1986 there was a well-known local business called Kemp's. The Kemp family Louis descended from what in the seafood. business Louis was a third generation heir to product lines that included imitation King Crab, a frozen seafood product line, of which I had been a regular consumer.

But the real Louis Kemp story begins with his childhood friendship with a kid named Bobby Zimmerman at Camp Herzl, a Jewish summer camp in Webster, Wisconsin. Bob was 12 and Louis 11 when their friendship developed. It was a friendship that despite divergent trajectories has lasted a lifetime. Experiences they mutually shared included the Buddy Holly Winter Dance Party at Duluth Armory just days before "the music died." In 1983, Bob was best man at Louis' wedding on London Road here in Duluth. But most significantly, Louis was the architect of the epic Rolling Thunder Revue.

Performers on the tour included Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, Ronee Blakely and Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Bob Neuwirth assembled the backing musicians from the Desire sessions, including violinist Northland favorite Scarlet Rivera, bassist Rob Stoner, and drummer Howie Wyeth. The tour included 57 concerts in two legs—the first in the American northeast and Canada in the fall of 1975, and the second in the American south and southwest in the spring of 1976.

As behind-the-scenes producer of Dylan’s legendary Rolling Thunder Revue, Louis went on to travel with him all over the world, a trusted ally and friend. His book, Dylan & Me, is now available for pre-order on his website, and at Amazon in mid-June.

Kemp's book opens with this setup: “It was at summer camp in northern Wisconsin in 1953 that I first met Bobby Zimmerman from Hibbing. He was twelve years old and he had a guitar. He would go around telling everybody that he was going to be a rock-and-roll star. I was eleven and I believed him.”

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Here are a few photos from the Louis Kemp archives.

Best man Bob at Louis's wedding.

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Joan, Louis, Bob and... who's the pup?

For what it's worth, I'd be curious who Shakespeare's best friend from childhood was who we know so little about. And what would his late-in-life anecdotes include? Just wonderin'.

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Related Links
Rolling Thunder Revue Belt Buckles and Luggage Tags
Bob Dylan's Favorite Monopoly Piece
Dylan & Me

This Saturday, is also the kickoff for Duluth Dylan Fest


Unknown said...

more about Th Master...

Ed Newman said...

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