Friday, May 29, 2020

Longtime Minneapolis Dylan Fan Rubin Latz Shares His Journey

I met Rubin on the set of Paul Metsa's show in 2018.
When I was young and into Dylan I was only aware of a few others who were in that stable. Over time, one became aware of the broader herd, here and there discovering others in the tribe. Upon moving to Minnesota, I discovered a whole new category of note, including people who went to school with Bob, or crossed his path at one time or another here in the North Country. It's like a fraternity of sorts. At the center of it all is the music.

In the Fall of 2018 I had the privilege of getting invited to the filming of three episodes of Paul Metsa's Wall of Power show in Minneapolis. He had as guests the Minnesota musicians who recorded with Dylan on Blood on the Tracks. One of the many interesting new people I became acquainted with was Rubin Latz, who shared photos that became part of my three days of blog coverage here. Having remained in touch I wanted to share a bit of his Dylan story.

EN: Where did you grow up and can you give a brief overview of your career? 

Rubin Latz: Born & raised in North Minneapolis, I’m NFL (Northsider For Life); attended Mpls. North High, B.A. from University of MN – Twin Cities, and much later a Graduate Certificate in Deafness Rehabilitation Administration from San Diego State University. 
Spent early lifetimes in retail sales (including women's shoes, automobile parts) and merchandise service (early Target stores & Shopper's City), American Sign Language Interpreting & Interpreter Training, before beginning a 24 yr career in Vocational Rehabilitation (which is our longest-standing Federal program, having celebrated its centennial last year) with the State of Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development; retired June of ’11 and soon picked up a camera, which both saved and changed my life, giving me renewed purpose while pulling me out of a deep depression over loss of career & collegial relationships. I now spend my days documenting life, nature, high school sports, community events, and the local music scene through photographs. 
Inside the studio. "Quiet on the set!" (Photo: Rubin Latz)
EN: What does a Rehab Specialist do?

RL: I was one of several in a community development units serving as a content experts while supporting agency staff statewide, providing training & technical assistance, as well as information and referral; my area of focus was Minnesota citizens with hearing loss…people who are Hard Of Hearing, Deaf, and Late-Deafened; (Minnesotans who are DeafBlind are served by a sister agency, State Services for the Blind); I monitored 2 legislatively-funded grant programs, served on local, regional & national advisory boards, committees and work groups. Others in my unit specialized in Mental Health, Traumatic Brain Injury, Supported Employment, School-to-Work Transition, and more.

EN: When did you first get hooked on the music of Bob Dylan?

RL: While I can’t recall a specific Dylan maiden moment, my ‘60s & ‘70s reality included car radios, transistor radios, jukeboxes and flip- top stereo Hi-Fis – along with American Bandstand & the Ed Sullivan Show – as primary sources of music; first song I memorized – at age nine – was Tommy Edwards’ “It’s All In The Game”

Took the Dylan bait – along with most everyone else – with, “Blowing in the Wind, and the “hook” was deep-set several years later with, “Like a Rolling Stone”, which my childhood pal Jim played in his family’s sunroom ‘til its grooves were worn wide & deep.

(L to R) Kevin Odegard, Gregg Inhofer, Peter Ostroushko, Billy Peterson,
and Jon Bream of the Minneapolis Star Tribune
EN: How many times have you seen Dylan live? 

RL: Funny, that…I’ve yet to see him live. At the ripe young age of 71, I’ve grown to know him vicariously, through others; I am still saving $ to see him in his next swing through the Midwest. I confess I do particularly regret missing his Twin Cities gigs, including the Midway Stadium show when Larry Kegan hit the stage. Larry matters in that I’d traveled to the Pacific Coast of Mexico with him – and with Luis, his aide/driver - early in ’74. We were quite a crew, myself and my then-girlfriend among seven of us with long hair, big mouths, and fast feet; so many memorable moments in those weeks, including feeling so cooped up on the drive down that I had to ask Luis to stop the van after summiting the Sierra Madres so I could get some air (not quite car-sick), and then running several miles down the switchbacks, passing cows that were grazing along the roadside at how many thousand feet? Then discovering sand fleas on the beach at tiny San Blas, with the incoming tide awaking me by sloshing up and soaking my feet inside my sleeping bag (we’d bivouaced after arriving in the dark), and opening my eyes to a line of surfers carrying boards, and humming Beach Boys tunes while dancing down the path to the nearby breakers before dawn. Little did I know we were on a point overlooking a prime surfing spot.

Paul Metsa, Billy Peterson, Gregg Inhofer. It's certified. (Photo: Rubin Latz)
EN: Do you have a favorite Dylan moment?

RL: Having never seen him live, my personal Dylan-from-afar highlight was spending a glorious in-studio, “More Blood, More Tracks” day in October of ‘18 with Paul Metsa interviewing Minneapolis musicians who’d played on the Sound 80 recordings of Blood on the Tracks; photographing the day’s events at Metro Cable News 6 “Over Nordeast”, witnessing their bonds of brotherhood, hearing the personal, “how it happened” stories of Kevin Odegard, Gregg Inhofer, Peter Ostroushko, Billy Peterson (Chris Weber, and Bill Berg joined remotely); witnessing Jon Bream pass along the just-then-released “Strictly Limited Deluxe Edition 6-Disc Set” boxed set to each musician present…all are etched into giddy memory banks. (Photos above.)

Second-level faves are the numerous Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan concerts – that were also fund-raisers for Guitars for Vets – attended over recent years, both in St. Louis Park and in Maple Grove, and becoming friends with some of the local musicians who also love Dylan’s music.

Blogger interviews Gregg Inhofer. R. Latz photo.
How has Dylan’s music and art informed your life?

RL: Listening to him over these many years (I had late-‘60s opportunities to focus my listening while working at Bill Franklin’s The Record Exchange – Seven Corners & Dinkytown locations - one of the earliest purveyors of used LPs) fed my anti-war protest Jones (also courtesy of Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Buffy St Marie, Tom Paxton), and later my writing Jones, giving credence to the belief not all poetry had to rhyme, and that visual rhythms could move bodies as well as hearts and minds, that ideas need not be expressed in two minute, thirty-five second cycles…and that relationships and life events CAN be written about meaningfully, CAN light a path forward for others.

EN: What are some of the albums you’ve played most often over the years?

RL: Freewheelin’, Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited, Portrait, New Morning, Greatest Hits Vols 1 & 2, Nashville Skyline, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks.

EN: What was your reaction when Murder Most Foul was given a send up last month?

RL: Listened pretty quickly, LOVED it from first to last.

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