Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Louie Kemp To Visit Duluth as Part of His Dylan & Me Book Launch in Two Weeks

RTR luggage tags were designed by Louie Kemp for the tour.
Every picture tells a story, they say. For me, the two most telling photos about Louie Kemp and his new book Dylan & Me are the one from Herzl Camp where the two met when they were just kids, and any of the shots from three decades later when Bob was best man at Louie's wedding here in Duluth.

On August 15 Louie Kemp will be sharing more stories and photos here in a special evening featuring music and a book signing as part of the John Bushey Memorial Lecture Series. It's being billed as an Encore for the memorial lectures usually held in conjunction with Duluth Dylan Fest each May.

Herzl Camp with Larry, Bobby and Louie center stage.
"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.” -- Louis Kemp

The full title of the book is Dylan & Me: 50 Years of Adventures. The event will take place at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum on the evening of Thursday, August 15. Hosted by the Duluth Dylan Fest committee, the John Bushey Memorial Encore Lecture with Louie Kemp will give Northlanders the opportunity to hear first-hand never-before-heard stories about Bob Dylan.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m. there will be a reception featuring music by Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo with guest guitarist Dave Bennett at 5:30 p.m.  What makes this a cool deal is that Gene LaFond used to perform with the late Larry Kegan who was also a buddy of Bobby Zimmerman from Herzl Camp days. There's a sense of reunion taking place because Larry and Geno were there at the beginning portion of the Rolling Thunder Revue of which Louie was the producer.

The release of Martin Scorsese's Rolling Thunder Revue documentary in June was the perfect kickoff for Louie's book release. Both Larry Kegan and Louie briefly fill the screen at different moments. In one scene Bob Dylan and Larry are in the back of a van singing a Hank Williams song, Larry the big guy in the red shirt. If you had X-ray vision you could see Gene LaFond on the other side of the wall, driving the van as the two old friends sing together.

Best man (Left) at Louie's wedding, 1983.
Louie Kemp's Dylan & Me promises to deliver stories not shared in the multitude of other Dylan bios. One chapter is devoted to the night he and Bob attended the Winter Dance Party at the Duluth Armory just days before "the music died."

The lecture will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by a Q&A period and book signing.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to see the William Pagel Archives’ Bob Dylan Exhibit featuring original handwritten lyrics, personal letters and other rare documents. Pagel was recently in the news when he acquired the house Abe and Beatty Zimmerman called home where Bob grew up in Hibbing. About ten years ago Pagel purchased the Zimmerman's Duluth home where Bob lived till he was six.

The Kemp name is well-known in Duluth. Louie's grandfather had a Lake Superior fishing operation the grew to be one of the largest and most successful in the country. Louie left college shortly before graduating college to take over the family business, expanding it into Alaska. His 350-foot mothership, the M/V Bering Trader, was the largest-capacity seafood processor in Alaskan waters in its day. An ancillary enterprise, the Louis Kemp Seafood Company, created the thriving market for imitation King Crab in the United States. (Ask me about my crab quiche sometime. It's yummy.)

All this to say Louie Kemp, whose roots were here, is returning August to share stories from his years of friendship with Bob, and the public is invited.

EdNote: The William Pagel Archives exhibit is free to the public, on display till August 15. Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum is located at 902 East First Street in the former Christian Science church building across from St. Lukes Hospital.

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