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Bob Dylan 970522 in Beverly Hills, California

Subject: May 22, 1997 - Beverly Hills, California - performance
From: Bill Pagel (
Date: Sat, 24 May 1997 02:39:20 GMT

Bob performed in the International Room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel 
in Beverly Hills, California last night at a $1500 a plate Simon 
Wiesenthal Center benefit dinner.  Bob and the band came out around
9 PM and played 3 songs.  

  1.   Stone Walls And Steel Bars 
  2.   Masters Of War 
  3.   Forever Young 

The band consisted of:

Bob Dylan - vocals and acoustic guitar
Larry Campbell - vocals and acoustic guitar
Bucky Baxter - vocals and mandolin                             
Tony Garnier - upright bass

David Kemper was absent


Set lists, cue sheets, reviews, and information on upcoming
concerts can be found on the Bob Links page located at:

Bill Pagel  

Subject: XREF-four hours with bob (at the hilton)...long From: Christine Consolvo ( Date: Sat, 31 May 1997 13:42:05 GMT Organization: Netcom X-Newsreader: Forte Agent 1.0/16.390 The following review is from AOL's MMC Dylan board sent to me by a good friend. The review appears in 13 different parts on the message board... It seems unfinished, but I guess this is all of it. It was posted by also known as Alex and "Ashes Dad" Subj: Four hours w/Bob Date: 22 May 1997 23:23:54 EDT Hey guys, Without whos and hows let's just say that i found myself in the Beverly Hilton Hotel this past Tuesday evening, the twentieth of May. In the grand ballroom where they hold the golden globe awards and numerous other events, preparations were taking place for a benefit dinner scheduled for the following evening. This dinner and show was to be a fund-raiser for the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation. Twelve hundred guests were expected to attend. Guess who the entertainment was to be. Yeah.....our good friend. As i entered the ballroom just after 8:00pm. there he was sittin' on a stool on the small stage. He had just arrived to begin what was to be a two hour rehearsal. The room was empty but for the technicians and crew and some Sony people. There was also a man from Merv Griffin Productions which fit because Merv does own the hotel. All total, maybe ten or so people. There were also two women checkin' out where their table for twenty-four was going to be set up for the dinner. Most of the dinner chairs were up on the large round tables set all through out the room. With the dark curtain hung down to the floor behind the set-up on stage, it looked like the supper club scene right out of Highway 61 Interactive. As i walked closer i could hear Bob talking to Tony and Bucky as he reached down to pick up his guitar. Something 'bout being a small room. i walked around the room and even behind the stage. i checked out the refreshment carts which were stocked full of small bottles of water and sodas. (no booze to be found) The house lights were kept on. Some stagehand was complaining how there weren't any light bulbs in the head backstage. damn if he wasn't right. Some hotel guy took care of that problem in two minutes. Meantime i settled in a chair behind the Sony guys. i had a rolled up piece of paper in hand as my prop. So far, nobody inquired as to whom the hell i was. Bob took a few peeks over but he had some guitar playin' on his mind. He was wearing faded jeans with a dark t-shirt with a light jean shirt hung out over almost to his knees. White socks with black shoes ( no boots ) with silver buckles across them. Hair was trim with typical facial grub. Tony started pickin' on his bass and Bob began also. Within ten seconds they were on a path together leadin' down some bluesey highway. Bucky was now sitting to Bobs left with Tony in the middle. (no drums tonite) When Bucky joined in they were in an eye contact mode with shoulders slowly rocking and heads slowly nodding. Hardly anyone was watching these guys, the Sony guys were immersed in conversation and turned away from the stage. Then they got up to walk around. Hey, lucky me. About five minutes into this blues session, Bob, while still stool rockin' lowered his head and with eyes closed and began picking away on his own path while Tony and Bucky continued right along. i always figured that Bob was content with his playing when he bends over slightly and twitches and twists his shoulders. He started this body language and i found myself on the edge of my seat. Here the night has just begun and he's got me thinking that i'm watching the band behind Blind Willie. This went on for another ten or twelve minutes. When they ended, Tony and Bucky gave each other some positive hand signal while Bob turned to them and smiled big time. i remember thinkin' that our hero was full circle and then some. Within a minute or so, after some conferring with the man in the headset Bob and the guys moved right into some downhome country music. i felt like i stumbled into a jam session. This went on for another five minutes 'til Bob turned to someone and said that he couldn't hear Bucky playing. Each time something came up about the sound and while a technician jumped in to quick fixit, Bob would keep on picking. When one of the Sony guys would walk up the three steps to the stage Bob would stop and confer and it would usually end with some smiles after some agreeing. Hey.... this was one loose dude. Everything in the room was about casual. Bucky would walk over to shake some technicians hand, Tony was laughing a lot and Bob would turn to grab his paper cup of water and while drinking he'd nod to somebody else. i hadn't opened this door before on my interactive cd. There was a microphone set up in front of Bob, but he couldn't reach it and hadn't come close to tryin'. i thought to myself, let's not get too wanty here if it's two hours of music only then so be it. Hell, i'm the only guy here that doesn't belong except for the occasional hustle from some hotel guy in a white coat who keeps checking the three tables of food and drink. The food was mainly some well prepared sandwiches with the condiments in these cute, tiny plastic bottles. Each table had silverware, i guess in case they felt like eating a sandwich the way George Castanza eats chocolate. There was always somebody eating from the crew and they usually were not watching the musicians. When Bob broke for the first of four cigarette breaks, Bucky ate his sandwich on stage standing up. Tony was musing around with some Sony guy, as Merv's production guy was darting here and there to help them improve the sound. This isn't a new hotel and the guy at the mixing board said that the small sound problem was definitely coming from their end. Well at least every table had silver water pitchers filled with filtered water and filtered ice and a silver spoon. Oh that Merv. Now, we are into it for a good forty minutes and i'm taking a break also. This is when the man at the board told me 'bout the sound trouble, though he seemed confident that they would overcome it. While i'm standing near center rear Bob is eager to end the cig break and leans with cig still in hand to grab his guitar. i thought for a brief moment that he was going to pull a little Ronnie Wood action and stick on the guitar. Didn't happen. Bucky cleaned up and reached for what looked like a mandolin. Tony was ready and in an instant back to work. They were blending and trying to find some new path with an easy beat, and as i turned to walk back down in comes a walkin' Larry Campbell with guitar case under one arm. As i took a seat he walked up the steps and i'm thinking hey! this guy is late for class, but Bob while playing acknowledged him with with a most welcoming grin. Larry shook hands with some of the stage guys and after he pulled out his guitar Bob leaned to his right and turned to shake his hand. Still, all smiles. Bob, Tony and Bucky were working the kinks out with eye contact at first, but now and then someone, usually Bob, would stop playing and verbalize. Bob was always within a few feet of his stool. With his gameface on you could tell that his concentration level was rising. While playing he would look to the floor but he was fully into only seeing, feeling, hearing, and waiting for that right color of sound to come in a blended texture. Larry was catching up and Bob would now and then give one his patented low-glances into Larry's guitar. But for most of the time it seemed that Bob was leaning low-left into Tony and Bucky. What was a threesome was now a foursome soon to be one. One of the hands came to the side of Bob and slid his mike to him and adjusted the height for Bob was not standing but sitting now forward in his stool. I leaned forward in my chair as Bob began singing Long Black Veil. His focused stare went straight to the center of the room. His concentration level seemed very high and it seemed to me that he left the music to the boys as he concentrated on his own voice. He had no idea that the man with the gray hair and in a ponytail behind him with the headset on was waving his arms wildly at some guy near me. He got his attention and pointed to Bucky. The guy went up and slid a mike just over the top of Bucky's lap as he was sitting in a chair facing Bob. When Bob ended the song, he turned and said that he was still having trouble hearing Bucky. Tony made an arm motion as to bring Bucky's chair closer to Bob. They did this and they moved on. Now i'm not up on any of the new songs, nor have i read anything on them, so i assumed that this next song was new. All i remember is that Bob definitely found his voice and was singing ever so passionately about some girl named Annie. There was an honest beautiful strain flowing out of the man who must have once known this Annie. This man didn't need to search and find that much passion in this near empty room tonite. Afterall, he could've taken the easy road like so many of the others do to protect their precious voices. He could have hummed or whispered his way thru. But it hit me like a bolt of light like it has so many times before, that some men are men and some men are mountains. What was to follow cemented my point. When the songs would end Bob and the boys would turn center stage and talk things out. Bob never seemed to push " his " point too far. All had input and many a time i heard things like " yeah, lets try that this way or let's move this there." Bob gave total approval on one song and could be heard saying something like "yeah, I liked that, let's leave that one alone and use it like it is." And everyone would agree to it. These guys were very open to each other with all points taken very professionally. i was very impressed by this. The reworkings of parts of songs was the work. One time Bucky, while Bob lit up a cig, went so far as to sing to Bob using his version of Bob's voice. He seemed to be matching some voice inflection to some bridge. Tony was nodding in favor of Bucky's point, and Bob seemed to agree also. Bob also let them finish their point. This was a team for sure with maybe Larry having the least to say of the four. Of course, Bob may have final say but again, i never heard him push his point. They seemed like they weren't afraid to go into the narrow lanes of some songs and work it out. Then there were some that never got properly started and ended quickly. So many of Bob's songs seem to hinge on a certain emotion like love or anger and if he's in one mood and the voice and soul are one, how does one shift songs to a place were the heart or soul are not ready to follow? It seems to me that this is the gray area from which some critics use against Bob. If the mood is passionate in him like it obviously was on this night, how does he sing one from the other side of his library without being criticized? Hey, i give him credit for first for creating the library and then i give him the credit for having the courage to use it ! He doesn't have to sing What Good am I the same night he may sing a Jokerman but he does.... He doesn't take the easy road, never has. Now as they moved on and into something that i hadn't heard before, Bobby reached and found it within that voice of his and poured his heart out again. The music to this song was blended supremely and i was reminded of The Man in the Long Black Coat. Annie's gone, but there is passion still weeping from this voice calling out to some Creole girl. Bobby was in tune and drew me into this song bigtime. And when he finally asks this Creole girl for her hand in marriage she tells him that her true love is still out at sea. Thru the richness and conviction flowing from his mouth to my ears he had my heart breaking along with his. As i sat back in my chair, i would notice a new face come into the room from time to time. One girl in a tan suit with dark hair came in and she walked over to me and caught me a little off guard. i would have sworn that she asked me if i was alex, and before i could give her a long drawn out yes ( while my brain is asking how'd she know this ) some Sony guy is waving her down. She greets him and poises herself in a chair facing Bob. She seemed to be one of only two peple in the room who wasn't working and who tried to focus on Bob. The guys around her were talking with their backs to the stage most of the time. It was harder for her than for me because they would eventually draw her into chatting. She walked by a few times always smiling and when she had to run, she gave a gentle wave as if to say Enjoy. Another guy came in who, as i later would find out, worked on a previous crew with Bob. He seemed like a clear-eyed kind of guy. When he caught Bob's eye and waved they exchanged smiles that to me had a lot of good memories behind them. Bob was trying to get into a little Tangled Up in Blues, but for whatever reason, it didn't work. He started into the song and then came the wincing as if he wasn't ready to sing this. i think that the band sensed this also, as the core of it (or song within the song) wasn't to be found tonite. Thus, they let it go without attempting to work it out. Move on. Soon after what some would have labeled the low point of the night they jumped tightly and loudly into a toe-tappin' You Ain't Goin' Nowhere. Here i'm watching Dylan sing it yet in my minds eye i'm thinking of Colvin, Chapin-Carpenter, and Cash. This was a treat ! The music created a hypnotic-like bouce around the room. This song might have awakened half of Beverly Hills. Then there were the lyrics which were being spouted out oh! how ever so well. On the surface you could hear the simplicity of the rhyme, how the gate wouldn't close and the railings froze. Ah!!! but was this only the bud of the flower? What's to become of this bud? Will it blossom? What's to become of our lives if we ain't goin' nowhere? And then, "Whoo-ee" the flower blossoms in fast-forward speed, and were told that his "bride's gonna come." Bobby is adding coal to the engine now as he doesn't ask but states "Oh, oh are we gonna fly down in the easy chair!" Sounds like a happy man to me. Such simplicity between a man and his bride. So personal the relationship yet it seems like he must shout out his joy to the world. i ask... is this a marriage made in Heaven ? Or, should the question be..... is this marriage destined for Heaven ? If the bride be an earthly woman, may it be made in Heaven. If the bride be Jesus, may it be destined for Heaven. Would God send Biblical imagery and mix it with such simplicity to a man whose playing music in a basement under a pink house ? Nah.... not when such a highly intelligent bunch is tossing coins in pawkin' meters and following all the right leaders already..........or.... would He ? When this song ended, for some wierd reason, i expected applause to break out. As i looked around the room i saw that for the first time tonite, everyone seemed focused toward center-stage. It was like there was a buzz in the air but with silence. i caught most everyone looking around at each other with silent approval. Heads were nodding, people were pointing, and finally Tony reached around his instrument and started clapping. Someone else yelled yeah ! and that was it. Bob just lowered his head then he turned and reached back for that paper cup of water. As he turned back around, still sipping from his cup, his eyes were following one of the Sony guys who came running up to the stage as if to say ...hey Bob ...we've gotta use that one ! He and Bob exchanged a few words then they laughed and separated. Bob and the band started what i thought would have been Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You but as i mentioned earlier, they started many a song and for whatever reason many of them ended quickly. Some as quickly as they started. I just took it as they knew the one's that weren't going to be used. Now i didn't need to know the time, and i don't wear a watch, but my guess is that we are well past two hours now. Time flies when everyone is working and you're having fun !! Bob settled back in with one leg on the floor and the other heel hanging on the rung of the stool. With guitar in hand he turned back to Larry and they all began together. Bob leans forward and a few seconds later i hear him say..."Come gather around people wherever you roam" he sang it, and he sang it well. And he sang it all through. i was hearing words that helped change the direction of a country more than thirty years earlier. A country that found itself straining to do the right thing. A country that was in the middle of a scary cold-war and a country divided by many unforgiving things within. These lyrics pierced the hearts and minds of peoples everywhere. And ohh....that voice far too young to carry so much wisdom. But carry it it did. And a new generation was attempting to break away from the old. And the new generation lit a torch and tossed it the air and by a simple twist of fate, it landed near the man who was sitting on a stool in front of me. 'twas like sitting in History 101. The pace of this song was excellent. The music had a softer feel to it and it wrapped well around his voice. Bob sang this one very delicately. This song never seems to drift too far from him and why should it? i caught myself singing right along with him. " And the first one now will later be last for the times they are a'changin' " He finished and stepped back and i thought that i heard him say to Bucky that the mandolin might work there. A moment later Bob was back on the edge of the stool. Everything seemed a bit more serious now. i knew now that they were going overtime because some hotel guy with a badge came over right in front of me and was questioning the Sony guys about it. The guy who took care of the light bulb problem was now standing behind me. i looked up at him and he mentioned that he had already stayed an hour past his time to leave. It was obvious to him that they were not ready to wrap it up just yet. He said he needed to do something near the stage but that it could wait until the next morning. So when he got the ok, he went home. i got up and stretched my legs and talked to the some stagehand who confirmed that indeed they were running over. As we were talking, Bob and the guys were beginning to play Masters of War. That ended that conversation. i think that they slowed this version down a little since the last time i saw them. Bob was pickin' nicely on guitar and when he leaned in to sing, it was working well with his voice. There was a speaker to my right and from it Bob's voice was coming thru nice and clear. Like with so many of his songs, he draws you right in there with him. i've heard this song a thousand times yet he's got me locked in. It's so visual. And i find that the pacifist in me can't control this venomous swelling within. There is no room for forgiveness in this song. It's a double edge sword song with seemingly no way out. This classic has got blackness dripping from all sides. Only Bob Dylan's inkwell has songs in it like this one. And only Bob Dylan can sing it as it should be sung. After this song ended and guys were huddling up in a semi-circle around Bob, i got up to take a break of my own. The hummin' of Tony's bass was still in my head as i walked to the rear of the room. Just outside of the little boys room was a phone. Thought i'd call the little woman. While we were talkin', the band started up and my wife asked which song were they playing? I didn't know for sure. Bob was singin' and i just couldn't make it out. Just before i hung up the phone, i hear what sounds like and turns out to be a duet. As a came out of the hall and walked around these large columns i could see that it was Larry that joined Bob for the chorus. All i remember are the words Stone walls and Steel Bars. This was one of few songs that Bob sang while standing. He was lifting his voice and climbing to his toes on this one. He leaned in with his head back each time Larry met him at the mike. His voice had a rolling-thunder-type strain to it. Musically, it sounded to me as if this song was born near the Mississippi River. I just don't remember anything lyrically. And i'm not sure if they even played it through. Though i do remember hearing the chorus three or four times. When they finished this one, Larry and Bob exchanged words and again, common nodding. Larry stepped back behind and to the right of Bob again as Bob dug up and began to sing John Brown. When it comes to war songs, Bob sure can pull that bow back and fire with piercing truth. Some people can't handle these kinds of songs well. They can be like riding a small roller coaster just after lunch. Although, tonite's crowd thought that it was very well done. Larry and Bob started in on the next one and i was interested to hear this one done minus David on drums. Their first few picks helped to send me on a Woodstock flashback since this was the song that woke the crowd up after the first set of ballads. Bob leans in and i hear......"God knows you ain't pretty......" They had this one all rolled up nice and tight and Bob was enjoying this one. He would take his patented glance back at the guys but all was always well here. Bob thru some nice riffs in here as he kept his shoulders stiff. He doesn't smile while he doing it yet ya can't help but feel that he really enjoys this. Especially when he gets in that groove where he starts looking around while he stays tight-lipped. Tony seemed to know Bob's musical mood best if i had to guess by his body language. When they would hit those certain grooves now and then Tony would lean forward while playing and smile or laugh as he watched Bob pick away. Bob got real casual when the songs would end but usually kept his game face on during them, a la Bob. As God knows came to an end, i sensed another water or cigarette break was was just around the bend. Lo and behold guess what? Instruments down, everybody nodding, and Bob reaches for his paper cup. They could have been managers or whatever, but i have been calling them the Sony guys and we'll leave it at that, but a couple of them were back up on stage talking with Bob. The little hotel guy in the white jacket was shuffling thru with silver tray in hand headin' toward the dressing room behind and to the left of the stage. There was a white towel over whatever and i assumed that as maybe being Bob's meal. i got up to stretch my legs again thinking that hey, maybe that's it for the night. As i walked around a bit, i overheard some technician say that they weren't through yet and that it was past 11:30. He wasn't complaining at all. In fact i would have given the whole crew high marks for the evening on their ability to problem solve quickly and do it with good focus. The band members would step down to the floor from time to time but Bob never did. The furthest Bob got from his center-stage stool was when he walked once or twice to the back end of the stage. (roughly where the drums would normally be.)