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Bob Dylan 961123 in Akron, Ohio

Subject: Akron thoughts->The music it is a changin' !
From: Tom (
Date: 24 Nov 1996 20:40:31 GMT

 E. J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall

   1.   Crash On The Levee (Down In The Flood)
   2.   I Want You
   3.   All Along The Watchtower
   4.   Simple Twist Of Fate
   5.   Watching The River Flow
   6.   Silvio
   7.   Mr. Tambourine Man (acoustic)
   8.   Masters Of War (acoustic)
   9.   One Too Many Mornings (acoustic)
  10.  God Knows
  11.  Born In Time
  12.  Highway 61 Revisited

  13.  Like A Rolling Stone
  14.  It Ain't Me, Babe (acoustic)
  15.  Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

What struck me about this performance was not the singing (which was very 
good,-Bob's voice was strong, but still not hitting the HIGH higs or the LOW 
lows) but the musicianship of the band. It MUST be the new drummer, because in 
the 13+ times I've seen Bob from 88-96 this show had by far the most radical and 
apparent 'jams' that I've ever heard from a Bob band. I've read on this 
newsgroup how Bob's music can at times be "deadlike" but yesterday was the first 
time that it seemed like the group was able to twist and turn in and out of 
themes and grooves like a real tight improvisational unit (the Dead at their 
best, and there are others that escape my mind right now!). 

The music isn't flashy, there's nobody showing off, but just good solid grooves 
and rhythm shifts (that everyone in the band picks up on), and continual 
exploration of different themes. Bob, as a guitarist, is able to find a melody 
on the guitar, and then restate it either later in a song, or more 
interestingly, later in the show! This blew my mind, because it shows that he's 
very conscious of what he's playing, not just holding the guitar and "fooling 
around"  like a lot of singers have chosen to do of late.

Very strange though, the way most of the lyrics had little effect on me 
yesterday. It just seemed like the focus was on the music & not the words. At 
times, Bob was sending cues to the drummer, as was Tony, so I'm sure that this 
whole tour was very much like a live, touring practice or rehearsal. As good as 
they were last night, I'm looking forward to future shows with this group when 
they all have their cues down and know their parts. Damn, they're gonna be GOOD!

Perhaps it was 'BIG' Bob last night & not 'little' bob that others on this group 
have mentioned. Not much lyrical intimacy, but musical exploration.

Looking forward to hearing what others thought of the show!



Subject: Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Sadie gets to Akron '96 From: sadiejane ( Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 23:16:35 -0500 How do you get to a Dylan show?... Saturday, 23 November, 1996 E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Center Akron, OH I had gigs which bookended this last show of the season, Friday night and Sunday Morning so I had to do some creative transportation combining to manage my schedule. I found a cheap flight round-trip to Pittsburgh. Rented a car from Pittsburgh airport and drove the 2 hours to Akron. The only train I took (hence the title of this report) was at the Pittsburgh airport where a subway train takes you from the gates to the ground transportation area. Akron, Ohio. I simply can't think of a better way to end the 1996 season. A quiet town, a beautiful venue, a wonderful show. The streets were empty as I drove into town in my rented Buick Regal (a very comfy alternative to a hotel room) from the Pittsburgh airport. The EJ Thomas Performing Arts Center is a large cement jungle of a building, probably built about 20 years ago on the campus of Akron University. Were it not for the two huge purple buses parked at the rear by the stage door, and the two even larger white trucks unloading there, one would never have known that there was to be a Dylan show in just a few (4) hours. I parked, I walked over to the stage door in hopes of seeing Christine, my concert ticket and a sound-check. Instead I found a small gathering of Dylan devotees - one group of guys who had driven up from North Carolina in hopes of scoring some seats for the now sold out show, and another pair who had come down from Canada also in hopes of scoring tickets. If any of you are reading this I send my fond greetings. It really made my day to arrive there (alone) and find people eager to greet a stranger and share stories on a street corner. Of course it turned out (as it almost always does) that one of these "strangers" knew me indirectly through a tape trading friend of mine "oh you're Sadie, I gave someone a tape for you once". We kept each other company, sharing the warmth from the open stage door, helping to alleviate the stress of NOT having a ticket for the show just hours before concert time. Anything to while away the time: talking, taking pee breaks, watching lots of unloading of platforms and lights and hard-shell cases. I saw Tony Garnier walking by just inside of the back stage entrance and called out a "hey, Tony!" to him. He came out for a minute for a friendly "what's up?" So there you have it, by 5:50pm I didn't have my ticket in hand yet, nor had I heard a sound-check. But I felt that the Akron greeting committee had done it's job in making me feel welcome. Back at the stage door though, there is no amount of friendly chats with band members that can relieve my ticketless angst. I must admit that when Tony asked me how I was doing the only thing I could think to say was "I'm still waiting for my ticket". One-track mind. Bob could probably have come up and asked me what to play on the set-list and I would have answered, "whatever you want Bob, I can't think about it till after I get my ticket". I'm *that* bad. Christine can vouch for me, I'm sure. My pre-show ritual involves checking my ticket compulsively, starting about 4 hours before show time. I start with checks every hour, then every 1/2 hour then every 15 minutes before finally handing it over to the usher to rip. If I can't check my ticket, finger it lovingly, confirm that I am indeed sitting in row A and not row X, I begin to experience something close to an existential crisis, a melt-down. If I can't feel/see/smell my ticket, does it exist? All I can say is, it must have been even worse for those guys who didn't even have a ticket for someone to check for them. Who might get their ticket so close to show time, that they wouldn't even have time to check it more than, maybe twice. Or who might not (heaven forbid) ever even get a ticket to check. Thinking of that made me feel a bit better, knowing that Christine was checking my ticket for me (I can picture her purse, picture her wallet, picture her opening her purse and pulling out the wallet...or maybe she keeps them in an of those little white envelopes....picture her opening the flap to the envelope and peering in at my ticket...). Needless to say, I was overjoyed when at 6pmish I saw Christine walking towards me. I gave her a big hug and a warm smile, and then I asked for my ticket. First things first. Luckily Christine really does seem to understand. Then I heard my first ever sound check: Silvio The Race is On (Buck Owens) something I couldn't hear well enough to identify The Long Black Veil Girl From The North Country Nice selection, JJ. EJ Thomas was clearly custom built to prevent stage rushes, with no center isles. Really no isles at all. Just about the only way to get to your seat was from a door on either side which allowed you access to your row. If you were sitting farther back and wanted to rush the stage, you would first have to leave the theater, walk down to another door closer in and re-enter. The orchestra section was very small, with more than half the seating in the mezzanine and first balcony. The acoustics were sublime, with an adjustable ceiling which can be moved to adjust to any kind of acoustic from Classical to Jazz to Rock and Roll. In between the rows of seats there was plenty of room for dancing and fabulous sightlines (no obstructed view for anyone). Also a strict no-smoking anywhere in the house rule [a trip to the ladies room brought me back nostalgically to my elementary school days when going to the bathroom meant entering a world of cool girls lost in clouds of warm smoke.] The audience seemed to respond to this somewhat more formal setting. There was a modest stage rush with no pushing or shoving and people sharing the space generously with those around them. Only two girls jumped on stage at the very end of RDW. Bob was BIG that night, but not so big that there wasn't room for his band to shine too. JJ played more lead than I had seen last summer and so did Bucky. It was nice to see a show which was clearly a collaborative effort - and perhaps having a new band member has been a catalyst for this increased sense of awareness on stage between all the guys. There were many moments where Bob was watching David, and JJ was watching Tony and Tony was signaling to Bucky (who was wearing his long, cerise coat. I love that coat). After Born In Time, I thought at first that there was a problem with one of the monitors. Three crew members rushing on stage, setting up another mic in front of the extra monitor on stage. Then I remembered the rumor that KWS would be playing tonight and sure enough, out he trucked, wavy blond hair and all. He camped out right next to JJ and looked the more like an uncertain teenager than like Stevie Ray Vaughan revisited. Bob started Highway 61 and KWS hung back playing rhythm, waiting for cues from the veterans around him. After two verses, Bob looked over at him and nodded. Then KWS looked at JJ and JJ looked back at KWS and nodded and then KWS looked back at Bob who nodded again at him and then KWS nodded (as if to himself) and offered up a few little, neat and tidy blues licks and then nodded politely to Bob who nodded back and tossed a few little jagged phrases back at him. This nodding went on during every jam - KWS played with economy - clearly making an effort to fit himself into the ensemble, adding extra riffs only when Bob nodded to him first. Bob sang the last verse and then the song ended on a dime with no extended final jam. He gestured for KWS to take a bow, but the boy appeared a bit daunted by the idea, and trucked off stage soon after the first round of applause. Bob seemed to be enjoying himself and sauntered around a bit and smiled and hi-fived before finally walking off stage. The acoustic encore, It Ain't Me, Babe, didn't seem quite ready for the high-acoustic-rock treatment that it received at the hands of drummer, David Kemper. The tempo was very fast, and seemed to increase, with a meter change leading into every refrain. Bob seemed to have trouble staying on top of the beat and forgot the last verse, so instead of "walk lightly from the ledge....not alone" we were treated to the first verse again. Then KWS came out for RDW - and we all observed more obsequious nodding between he and Bob. Finally, toward the end Bob stepped downstage, stopped nodding to the young man behind him and initiated a series of dueling guitar duets. KWS's guitar speaking the language of straight ahead R + B and Bob's guitar, as usual, speaking in tongues. They parried back and forth and it was clear that there was no competition. NOT because one had better chops than the other, but because they were not using the same idiom to express their ideas musically. KWS never took his eyes off Bob and Bob never took his eyes of the audience - playing more to them than to his dueting partner. It was as though he were seeking a personal response from each and every one of us down at the edge of the stage. "You like this? What about this? What if I do this?" And we were enthusiastically urging him on - to go just a little bit farther out each time on the limb of his fender phrasing. I must say that KWS surprised me. I think he's barking up the wrong tree with that power guitar testosterone display that he gives during his opening set. I think he should get some veterans up there with him and play some real blues. He's a good listener and has a great sense of when to add something to the mix and when to hang back. His playing during the two songs with Dylan was far more interesting and original than during his own set. He made us strain, and wait for him, listening closer and wondering what he would do next. After the show, I was feeling like some quiet time, and rather than go out on the town I decided to drive back to the Pittsburgh Airport and camp out there before my 8:15am flight which would get me back to Boston just in time to get to my Sunday gig. Boy, I sure am glad I rented a comfy Buick Regal instead of one of them Geo Metros. xx sadiejane Delia ain't dead, she's had enough for one year...just...

Tour Dates Calendar Expecting Rain