Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Checking In with Michael Twente of Hard Rain, Headliners for the 2023 Duluth Dylan Fest Kickoff Party

As many of you know, Duluth Dylan Fest will commence this weekend with events at the Historic Duluth Armory in the a.m., a Heaven's Door bourbon and whiskey samplings at Cashwise Liquor and Super One Liquor (Central Ave.) plus a special Highway 61 Revisited airing on The North 103.3 from 5 - 6. 

That evening we'll be celebrating the Duluth Dylan Fest Kick Off Party with music by Hard Rain – All Things Dylan

Earlier this week I finally caught up with Michael Twente of the St. Louis-based Dylan tribute band Hard Rain. Twente and his bandmates will be center stage delivering the goods at the Earth Rider Festival Grounds. (Tickets at Eventbrite.)

The band officially got its start in 2002, Twente said. It was originally going to be a one show deal featuring Bob Dylan songs. It went over so well they thought, “Why don’t we keep this going?” 

And they did keep it going for a little bit. "We opened for Leon Russell a couple times." But after a while, some of the guys didn't want to just do Dylan. This led to the next iteration, a Bob Dylan and the Band tribute band.

This was followed by an All Things Dylan period that included music from the Traveling Wilburys as well as the Band and even some Wallflowers, the band Dylan's son Jakob assembled.

At this point the band would kick off with a long Dylan set, then follow with other stuff, eventually bringing it all back home to Dylan.

Twente's musical awakening began at age 7 on February 9, 1964. "My sister made me watch it. The Beatles are what got me into it. I became a huge Beatles fan."

Even so, it wasn't till the breakup of the Beatles that Twente discovered Dylan. He had been a George Harrison fan and when the Concert for Bangladesh triple album came out, he was all in. When he came to Side 5, which was Dylan, he was blown away. "When I heard Hard Rain, I’d never heard anything like that before." He was 14 at the time, but his mind was fully charged. "Mom took me to the store and I bought a bunch of Dylan's albums. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He was painting pictures with words."

It was his love of the Beatles that led him to Dylan. Twente ultimately took up guitar, seeking to share the music he was passionate about.

You can tell who the die-hard Dylan fans are. They know exactly how many concerts they have seen. Twente says he's seen Dylan 202 times now. But it started with that Concert for Bangladesh. "I was too young to drive but my mom took me to the theater to watch the Concert for Bangladesh film." When the film ended he phoned his mother to ask if he could stay and sit through it again. She said yes.

Twente says it was difficult finding musicians who only want to play Bob Dylan. "These guys who I’m with now have become real fans though. I have some really good musicians."

When asked about his mentors, Twente says he modeled himself after Bob Dylan. Having seen Dylan over 200 times in concert, he said "I always watched his stage persona.  There’s nobody cooler than that. Arlo Guthrie and Leon Russell influenced me and maybe Neil Young. These were my mentors. I’d include Robbie Robertson in that mix."

Hard Rain isn't Twente's only musical outlet. He's also in another classic rock band and does a lot of solo gigs.

When asked to name his favorite album he initially balked. It's not really possible to name one, though if forced he might concede Blood on the Tracks. His Dylan education began with the Greatest Hits and Freewheelin', but his "short list" of faves would include Time Out of Mind as well as Highway 61 Revisited, for sentimental reasons.

The group created some interesting playlists over the years. "What we used to do when we did a show, we’d figure out what album anniversary it was, for example of in September such and such was released. The first set would then be that album starting on track one all the way to the end."

Band Introductions
(Seasoned musicians all.)

Ray Greenfield 

Drummer. Only. No chewing bubble gum at the same time for this one :)

Playing snare since 3rd grade, a drum set since 1967. Experience with the following genres: Soul, R & B, Rock, Alt Rock, Blues, Country, Greek, Tribute, Original, Etc.

Bands previously worked with: 

Johnnie Johnson, Blues Express, Tight Squeeze, Mojo Syndrome, Threshold, Buffalo Bob & his Bedroom Blues Band, Soul Seekers, Mad, Mad Greeks, Wyndow, Etc.

Focused on dynamics & a wide range of acoustic drum sounds to bring Hard Rain's huge catalogue of Bob Dylan, Band, Traveling Wilburys & Wallflowers,Etc. to life. 

My best work always brings out the best in those I play music with. 

Doug Raymur 

Keyboards, Piano, Organ, Synthesizer, Accordion, Cello, Bass, and Guitar.

    Since 1964 has played in orchestras, musical theater, Big Bands, Dixieland, Klezmer, Western, Country (yes, there is a difference), Bluegrass, Rock bands, dance combos, studio sessions and backup for pop vocalists, basically anything Doug has been asked to play. 

    Has arranged and scored for orchestra, big band, musical theater, vocal accompaniment and recording sessions.

    Played first recording session in 1967 at Commercial Productions in Seattle and in 1978 formed Cascade Recording, a mobile 8-track recording company that laid the groundwork for a major new-age label of top artists. 

Mark Petri
    Based on musical experience and technical knowledge, accepted offers to run front of house sound and design and direct stage lighting at club and concert venues across North America, working with groups that had accumulated over 80 hits on Billboard’s Top 100, 16 of those in the Top 10 and 6 number 1 hits.

    Conducted seminars, classes and lectures on music and music technology and gave private instruction on piano and keyboard. Was selected as a keyboard coach for the earliest Yamaha Rock School.

Mark Petri 

Bass Player, Vocals

A band member with Michael Twente in 1980’s and 2000.

Bass player in worship band at his church. 

Joined Hard Rain in 2019

Lee Bowers 

Lead Guitar, Vocals

Joined Hard Rain in 2022

A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Lee has played a combination of trombone, guitar, bass, mandolin, keyboards in bands since 1977, covering many styles of music from jazz, fusion, blues, rock, country and pop. Keyboards and guitar are his main focus now. He often seeks new opportunities to put himself in positions to improve on his musicality. He is currently lead guitar player for Hard Rain, a Bob Dylan related tribute band based in St Louis MO.

Michael Twente
Performing professionally since age 16.
Played in Top 40 / Classic Rock bands from 1970’s - ‘90’s. In 2002, he formed the Hard Rain - Bob Dylan Tribute Band. In 2016 the band evolved into Hard Rain - Bob Dylan & The Band Tribute Band, acknowledging the connection between both artists and incorporating songs by The Band into the set lists. In 2023, they once again evolved, this time into Hard Rain - All Things Dylan which includes songs by Traveling Wilburys, of which Bob Dylan was a member, and songs by The Wallflowers, fronted by Dylan’s son, Jakob Dylan. 


Forging Community Dylangate Event, & Historic Armory and Self-guided Bob Dylan Sites in Duluth Tours
Tours at 10 AM and 10:45 AM
Armory Arts & Music Center Annex
1305 London Rd, Duluth
9:30 AM to 11:30 AM | Free

Heaven’s Door Bourbon and Whiskey Sampling Events
Come try Bob Dylan’s award-winning Tennessee Bourbon and Whiskeys
Available to purchase at both locations:

Cashwise Liquor                            Super One Liquor
625 Central Entrance                       208 N Central Ave.
Duluth MN 55811                            Duluth MN 55807
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM | Free Samples with Valid ID (must be 21)

Highway 61 Revisited Radio Show
The North 103.3 FM Streaming online at 5:00-6:00 PM | Free

Duluth Dylan Fest Kick Off Party
With music by Hard Rain – All Things Dylan
Earth Rider Festival Grounds
1617 N. 3rd St., Superior WI
7:00-10:00 PM | Tickets $5 to $40


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