Thursday, February 6, 2020

Duluth Dylan Fest Art Show to Feature Youth This Year

Photo courtesy the William Pagel Archives
Preparations for the 2020 Duluth Dylan Fest are chugging along. The DDF Committee has been actively shaping the vision and defining the activities that will make up this year's weeklong series of events.

Now that I've observed the process these many recent year, it reminds me of the way my father built the concrete patio at our home in New Jersey. First, he defined the size, dug out the turf, placed boards around the outside perimeter, then used boards to create various sized sections within the perimeter. Next, he poured in the concrete.

We've had our dates pegged as of last fall--May 16-24. The content of each day is not yet set in concrete but it's been taking shape very nicely. You'll soon find the full schedule here at

Dylan Fest Art Show
One of the popular events of recent years has been the Art Show Opening Reception, which has historically taken place on Mondays. Art has been incorporated into Dylan Fest because of Dylan's long-time expression as a visual artist, in addition to his literary and singer/songwriting self-expression.

This year's Dylan Fest will feature art by student from three area high schools. We're thrilled at how the next generation is recognizing the relevance of the timeless themes that have been Dylan has touched upon and reconfigured in the Dylan catalog. Very briefly:

Cutting a cake on Dylan's May 24 birthday each year is a tradition here.
This is where Robert Zimmerman first lived till age 6.
If you look the early 60's and that period Dylan happened to come along, pop music was basically 3-minute songs that you could dance to. Dylan, on the other hand, came out of a folk tradition that was more thought provoking and issues oriented. (Examples: Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger.)

As the late John Bushey explained, "Dylan began writing songs with incredible lyrics pertaining to the changing times; civil rights, social issues, and songs with a political slant. His unique lyrical style influenced many musicians and attracted a much larger following to many of these causes, especially militarism, racism and other forms of injustice. After being influenced by Dylan, popular groups like the Byrds, Peter Paul and Mary, and the Beatles changed what they were doing to bring this 'new' music to a broader audience. His poetic, multi-dimensional ability with words helped bring about a new form of music.”

Dylan’s awards are nearly countless, culminating in his 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. He’s been nominated for nearly 30 Grammys and awarded nine. Six of his recordings have been inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1988 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with five of his songs being listed among the most influential of all time. His song “Things Have Changed” earned him an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2000 as he approached his 60th birthday while showing no signs of slowing down. From his Tom Paine Award in 1963 to Presidential Medal of Honor in 2014 his entire career has been one of recognition and honors, not to mention inspiration and influence.

To long time fans like many of us, none of this is surprising or new. It's good, however, to be reminded of how it all began and remarkable how much can be accomplished when an individual remains committed to a singular lifetime passion in any field of endeavor.

In addition to his music, Dylan is also an artist. His paintings and sculpture work have been shown in major galleries in New York and abroad. Hence, our having included an art exhibition as part of our annual Duluth Dylan Fest.

For the youth making art this year I assembled a list of themes that recur in Dylan's songs over the years.

Spiritual themes
Relationships (Love, Longing and Heartbreak)
Abuse of Power

We look forward to seeing how today's young artists interpret these themes.

You Are Invited
We have greatly enjoyed re-connecting with friends and fans who visit from other parts of the country and world each year during Dylan Fest. In recents years "music tourism" has become a popular way to spend a vacation. Graceland, Liverpool, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Lubbock TX, and Standing on the Corner in Winslow, Arizona, have all become "destinations" over the years. To learn more about why Duluth, Hibbing and the Minnesota Northland should be on your bucket list if you're a Dylan fan, check out this Forbes story by Gary Stoller: Harvard Professor Richard Thomas Says Start Your Dylan Tour in Duluth

The full schedule of this year's Dylan Fest will be announced soon. The popular Blood on the Tracks Express is slated to be back, along with lots of music, poetry, tours and more.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Get into it.

Related Links
Duluth Dylan Fest

For Best Of Bob (B.O.B.) (Dylan's upcoming schedule, archive of all concert reviews, setlists, etc.) (Mashup of All Things Dylan-related and More) (The Essential Site for Dylan lyrics and All Things Dylan)

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