LOU'S VIEWS: Dylan tribute Bob-bob-bobs along

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Lou Harry

This week, a Bob Dylan celebration at the Athenaeum and tell-all tales at Theatre on the Square.

It’s easy, when you talk of Bob Dylan, to get caught up in the lyrics—the wistful curlicues of “and but for the sky there are no fences facing,” the sledgehammer bluntness of “And I hope that you die/And your death’ll come soon,” the melancholy of “You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go,” and on and on.

But at the Hoosier Dylan concert offered at the Athenaeum for 4-1/2 joyful hours on Jan. 8, the music was equally important. And the music was in very good hands.

From the raucous, Gordon Bonham-led “Maggie’s Farm” jam to the raw ache of “Rock Me, Mama” (courtesy of the White Lightning Boys), it was an evening of musical highlights.

To be sure, this was not a program of Dylan’s most-familiar hits. Remarkably—and refreshingly—“Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” were ignored. Neither was it entirely focused on obscure pieces. Throughout, it felt like the selections were made based on what the performers truly wanted to play. Pleasure came from both hearing the music and being utterly clueless about what was going to come next.

Some of Indiana’s top musicians, including the Gordon Bonham Band, left; Jennie DeVoe, center stage; and Jason Wilber, right, took on the challenge of the iconic songwriter’s works at “Hoosier Dylan.” (Photo/Amy Lee)

Folkie Bobbie Lancaster, often found performing family concerts, was very much at home with “Man Gave Names to All the Animals,” and event organizer Tim Grimm offered a soulful, resonant “You Gotta Serve Somebody” (both from Dylan’s much-maligned, born-again album, “Slow Train Coming”). The two together gave us a heartbreaking “Boots of Spanish Leather.”

Jason Wilber had fun with “Tangled Up in Blue.” Jennie DeVoe gave her own spin to “Forever Young” and all wandered in and out of one another’s sets, providing harmonies, adding instrumental solos, or shaking tambourines. For an evening, I had a sense of what it would be like to sit in on one of Levon Helm’s famed Midnight Rambles in Woodstock, N.Y. The headliners were supported by a top-notch lineup of players who each had their moments to shine. And they did.

The only downside was Indiana’s poet laureate Norbert Krapf. I understand and appreciate the inclusion of poetry in the mix—Dylan himself made room for Lawrence Ferlinghetti on the Rolling Thunder Revue, which is the clear source of inspiration for Hoosier Dylan. However, the pushing-too-hard Krapf came across less of a poet with vision and more of a randomly drawn contest winner. Two of his Dylan-inspired pieces were only rendered tolerable by expert musical accompaniment—thank goodness Grimm followed Krapf’s southern Indiana adaptation of “The Girl from the North Country” with a beautiful version of the actual song. A poetic introduction to Jennie DeVoe sounded like the ramblings of a smitten teen-ager.

Actual teen-agers fared much better. What could have been an awkward act of nepotism turned into an exciting second-act spark when Grimm’s son, Connor, and his Columbus East High School buddies, under the name Joyous Garde, took the stage for a set that included “The House of the Rising Sun” (which Dylan covered on his first album). And when Wilber and company joined in, spirits flew.

Hoosier Dylan visits Shelbyville Feb. 12 and Danville Feb. 13. And Grimm has a Hoosier Hank and Johnny in the works as well. For more information, keep an eye on www.timgrimm.com.

Less a play than a two-hour conversation-starter, “My First Time” is having its local premiere at Theatre on the Square (through Jan. 30). Based on a Web site, the show begins in the lobby, as each audience member is given a questionnaire about his or her initial sexual relationship.

The answers are gently incorporated into the show, which otherwise features allegedly true accounts of deflowerment as posted anonymously on the site. Some of these feel blatantly like made-up letters to Penthouse. Others are painfully detailed and feel true. Some are presented whole, others in fragments.

Given the real-folks nature of the submissions, it’s no surprise that some stories could have used more details while others felt awkwardly too-detailed. Still, the subject matter is difficult to miss with, provided you are comfortable with it and the expected language (and sounds). The company of four—abetted by some clever use of a video screen for stats, facts and quotes—ably keep things moving until the, er, climax.

Oh, but to hear some of the audience member conversations on the trip home. •

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming A&E events to lharry@ibj.com. Twitter: IBJarts.



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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.