RIP Allen, a hero for the Memphis LGBT community
FIRST, for those going to the Bob Dylan/Wilco/Morning Jacket "Americanarama" music festival let me give newbies a heads up on Dylan since many seem to be disappointed he doesn't sing the songs they want they way they sounded on records from 40 years ago, the Bob Dylan on stage today is not the same Bob Dylan from 1966. He has changed, he has been changing for 50 years and he angers fans every time he changes. He is not the young 1960's young rebel leading a counter culture, nor the sweet voiced country crooner on Nashville Skyline. He is a 72 year old blues singer, an authentic primitive blues voice that has been worn down by 50 years of traveling down the dirt roads and highways of America. He will probably not perform many of his "greatest hits," he has a whole new catalog of blues and folk songs that match his age and voice, he will focus on his recent great albums, so prepare to hear the "New" Old Bob Dylan. If you want to hear a washed up group playing their greatest hits exactly like they always have, go see the Eagles in Oct. If you want to experience a authentic blues artist create art live on stage, try Dylan with that understanding. He has changed, as he will sing on the first song (from the Wonder Boys soundtrack) "I used to care, but THINGS HAVE CHANGED"
Now, the "Americanarama Music Festival" touched down in Memphis tonight, on July 2, at the AutoZone baseball park, home to the Memphis Redbirds. It was also the site of the Dylan/Willie Nelson show a couple of years ago. At that show I was down on the field and it was a great intimate experience with Dylan. This one was not. I got the cheap $39 bowl seats, up in the bleachers. I arrived just as the Richard Thompson Electric Trio was winding up. What little I heard sounded pretty good. I am not familiar with him at all, but I will check out his new album, which is getting great reviews.
I expected that most of the huge young crowd came to hear My Morning Jacket and Wilco, but hard to tell by all the Dylan T-Shirts. I cam to see Dylan, but also check out those two groups which I hear a lot of good things about. My Morning Jacket sounded good, but I was not familiar with their songs and didn't understand any of them. The sound mix was not great, too much drums, which drowned out the singing. (This was also a problem with Wilco and Dylan's set, though I understood a lot more of Dylan than I did of the other groups.) My Morning Jacket seems to be a "jam band," and while the sounded good, it seemed like one long jam session, except for a surprise guest appearance by JOHN PRINE. I recognized Prine's name but was unfamiliar with his work, but he was one of Dylan's folk singing peers back in the day. Not sure what they sang together, but it was a highlight of the show. The Morning Jacket lead singer is good and did a lot of great vocals, but I will have to check out their albums.
I am a little more familiar with Wilco, mainly their work with Billy Bragg putting music to new Woody Guthrie Songs. I'm not too familiar with their other work, though I did recognize at least on Woody Guthrie cover. They are a great band, and had more variety in their set than My Morning Jacket…
So I was there to see Dylan again. I always try to catch him when he comes to Memphis, which is pretty regularly, and he usually seems to enjoy playing here. I was concerned about some of the mixed reviews of this tour, from Dylan's voice to the static set list, and the sound in the AutoZone Park would make it even harder to hear and enjoy the concert, and it turned out to be a rough show. The crowd back where I was were pretty disengaged throughout the other performers, and many of them didn't seem too interested in Dylan either, not sure why they wasted their money coming. The venue and audience can make the difference between a great show and a not so great show, and both made this one a not so great show.
Dylan began as expected with a decent though rough version of Things Have Changed, which seems to be the theme of this tour. People expecting Bob Dylan from 1963, or 1973 would be disappointed, and many of them were. Next was a great version of Lovesick, with the first harp, not great but good. High Water was hard to recognize at first, and the crowed around me started losing interest. Soon After Midnight is one of my favorites from the new album Tempest, but the crowd was getting restless. The older couple behind and in front of me starting complaining that they didn't recognize any of the songs. (I tried to warn people he was focusing on new material, not "greatest hits.") The lady behind me told her husband that if she didn't recognize the next song they were leaving, and when Bob started Early Roman Kings, they left. The man in front keep calling out for Tangled UP in Blue, and I knew it was next up and when it started I told him here it is, but he was not impressed, and he and his wife got up and left, and told me that I was brave for sticking it out. (I wanted to lecture these people about the Bob Dylan of the last 15 years they obviously had no clue about…) And I know they didn't come to hear Wilco or Morning Jacket so they paid $40 to listen to four songs and leave. But the crowd down on the field seemed into the show, and I was wishing I had been down there with them.. But most of the rest of the crowd seemed to love it and they got their first "greatest hit" of the night…
One of the highlights of the concert for me was a great version of Duquesne Whistle, Dylan sang great and the band was into it, and the crowd down on the field was into it…
The next highlight was an awesome version of She Belongs to Me.. I can't remember all the reasons it was great, just take my word for it, you have to experience it yourself. Very different from any version I've heard, and Dylan put a lot of work into it.. And I believe did some harp too…
Beyond Here Lies Nothing was good, but kind of dragged a little, and was one that many people there were not familiar with..
At first I didn't recognize A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, but it got better as Dylan preached the lyrics and the crowed responded favorably as it reached a climatic end.
Next highlight for me was the always welcome Blind Willie McTell. Another of Dylan's best vocal performances.
Simple Twist of Fate began in the gutter and slowly came together. My first time hearing it live, could have been better..
Summer Days should be an opportunity for the crowd to dance and swing around, at least on the field, but it was too fast and seemed to be perfunctory. Kind of killed the dancing mood instead… Wish he had kept Thunder on the Mountain or tried out Narrow Way…
The highlight of the show as usual was an awesome full throttle All Along the Watchtower. The crowd loved it and many came to life for the first time. I think it was the best version I've heard live, but they all seem to be. It saved this show for many of the casual fans who came to hear Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol I & II
The crowd starting thinning out and I feared Bob would wait too long to come back for the encore, Ballad of a Thin Man, but the thin man finally reappeared and delivered a good but not great version. I think the version from the last tour was much better, when he stood naked in the center of the stage and poured his soul into it. This time he was over by the piano I think, not as powerful.
So the set list was exactly the same as all the others on this tour (except Nashville where he was joined by the McCrary Sisters for Blowing in the Wind), but many of the songs were first time live experiences for me (Lovesick, Soon After Midnight, Early Roman Kings, Duquesne Whistle, She Belongs to Me, A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall…), hell there were a lot of new songs for me so I can't complain. My first Hard Rain alone was worth my $40, and She Belongs To Me and Blind Willie were icing on the cake…
Too bad those old crabby people got mad and left early.. Or maybe it was good they left me alone to enjoy a good Dylan show. A large music outdoor music festival does not seem to be the best location for the shows Dylan is going, focusing on recent work instead of greatest hits people come to hear at outdoor festivals. It would have been much better concert down the street in the Orpheum, or even better down on Beale Street at the New Daisy, where I saw the best Dylan concert ever back a few years ago. I couldn't see much on the stage where I was, apparently Charlie Sexton replaced Duke Robillard, but I couldn't see. Not the best one I've seen but always love to see Bob live.
Hope Bob makes it back to Memphis again, I always assume it is the last time, but he keep on keeping on…
Sophlady, no I didn't dance around the issues of racial prejudice and misogyny, Ruth Johnson did. She criticized DSA's national director for even talking about racism and sexism, claiming that "ideological purists" on the left insult white working class men by talking about those things, since they are not educated enough, etc.
My point is that SHE was insulting white working class men, and that they have not been ran out of the Democratic Party by leftists and feminists, they have been largely neglected by the Democratic Party. The white working class has suffered 30 years of Democratic and Republican policies that have shifted away from labor and focused on Wall Street. As the Democratic Party shifted from being a "labor" party to being the "New Democrat" Bill Clinton's pro-business party , it has ceased to be the clear pro-labor choice for white workers, who even if they had racist and sexist views, did support the Democratic Party at one time, when it was a LABOR party.
I'm suggesting that Ruth's attack on liberals and feminists is misplaced, and unfair.
It should say by JIM Maynard, not RICK Maynard
I'm the gay socialist, not Rick :)
Like most liberal Democrats, the author of this idiotic column, Ruth Ogles Johnson, thinks that the way to win white working class voters is (a) assume they are too stupid or uneducated to understand racism and sexism and (b) win them over by appealing to that assumed ignorance.
The real reason the Democraric Party has lost white working class votes is that it has become a corporatist party that has failed to defend the economic interests of the white (black and brown) working class. Instead of taking on the corporate elites and the economic and trade policies thst have decimated the "middle class" (i.e. working class) the Democratic Party alienated labor by supporting "free trade" and "free market"economics and the result has been the destruction of the working class under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Liberal Democrats like Ruth Johnson assail "ideological purists" on the left while they won't even address the class war being waged against the working class, and seem to only talk about the mythical "middle class." That is why the Democratic Party has been losing white working class voters, they are afraid to talk about the "working class," and are afraid to mention the "class war" being waged against them.
Instead of attacking the corporatist Democratic elites that have pulled the Democratic Party away from labor amd aligned it with Wall Street, the arthor attacks Democratic Socialists of America's national director, Maria Svart for mentioning her desire to confront "patriarchy" and "white supremacy" as one reason she accepted the position to lead DSA. Maybe Democrats could learn something from socialists about how to appeal to and defend the working class against global capitalism which has destroyed the American "middle" (i.e. WORKING) class whoch the Democratic betrayed on NAFTA and joining the Republican attacks on "big government."
Jim Maynard, organizer
The author's attack on DSA 's new national director is puzzling. How is opposing patrarchy and white supremacy a bad thing? And how is that offensive to white working class males?
How in gods name does anyone this stupid get elected to a national office, even from Tennessee ?
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By Chris Davis, Susan Ellis, Toby Sells, and Maya Smith
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