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June  25

Baby Boomers Rock Again

Mary_and_meryl The Barista hopes she won't be accused of being an anti-Semite if she confesses that the charms of Bob Dylan are utterly lost on her. Save "Just Like a Woman," which we recognized, all the other songs sounded identical to us, and we fled to the parking lot early to avoid the traffic jam. But we still had fun!

It was, without question, the biggest see-and-be-seen event Baristaville has seen in some time. When we ran into Mary Hickey and Meryl Kramer (above) outside the ladies room, one of them squealed, "Everybody's here!" We heard that a lot, as well as the remark that it was just like college. Unlike concerts at big venues, this intimate little stadium experience guaranteed that you were sure to run into tons of people you knew and in fact it was a lot like one of those Venn diagrams with the overlapping circles.Venn_diagram Local boldface names we saw included Montclair writer-turned-capitalist Don Katz, MEWS captain Pam Satran, Montclair Dylan imitator Bob Mellman and liberal honcho Lucy O'Brien.

To us, the most fun part of the whole deal was enjoying the middle-aged rock concert fashion parade -- and seeing what passes for cool in the 40- and 50-something set.

An endearing little bit of concert behavior happened in the ladies room, when people started passing toilet paper through the line, each person tearing off a suitably-long piece, just "in case" there wasn't any in the stalls. (You hardly ever see this happen at the opera.) And we haven't seen so many tattoos since... well, never. But we suspect those were mainly out of towners.

ConcertAnd, oh, funniest of all. When the opening band, "Green Card," shouted "Hello Little Falls!" -- because Yogi Berra Stadium is, technically, in Little Falls -- there was absolutely no reaction. Little Falls? Where the hell is that? This was a Montclair crowd, and somebody might have tipped off the musicians.

Some great pix of Willie Nelson on this site.

June 25, 2005 in Parties We Crashed | Permalink


"Don" Katz? I thought it was "Jon" Katz? The one who writes the Suburban Detective series of books? I loved those!

Posted by: gc | Jun 25, 2005 9:45:25 AM

I like to sing his songs. I don't imitate him!

Posted by: Bob | Jun 25, 2005 9:59:59 AM

Funny, I hardly saw anybody that I knew there, I guess that I just don't hang with the right crowd. I stayed to the end and was not disappointed at all. I knew that Dylan had changed over the last 40plus years. I saw him at the Mosque Theater in Newark (now Newark Symphony Hall) in 1965. I didn't understand what he was saying then either, But that was because I was a rather naive 15 year old.
Time to pull out the vinyl and take another listen.

Posted by: donna | Jun 25, 2005 11:02:06 AM

Couldn't be Jon Katz -- I can't imagine a less likely capitalist. Last I heard he was leaving Baristaville and moving to that house of his on the mountain (though this is, like, ninth hand).

Posted by: walleroo | Jun 25, 2005 1:31:24 PM

I must confess to being an anti-semite as well. Although I like some of Dylan's songs, I've never really drunk the kool-aid. But then I also don't understand what's the big deal about Frank Sinatra, who's got nothing on the Velvet Fog. I must also be anti-Italian-American.

Posted by: walleroo | Jun 25, 2005 1:34:28 PM

The entire experience was pretty disconnected from the music as we were sitting, with most of our agemates, in the stands so far from the stage that it was like watching TV through the wrong end of a telescope. The screen made the musicians look slightly cartoon-like, and the lighting made it look like some of the players, perhaps those with prominent bald spots, look like they were wearing yarmulkas.
I agree that Bob Dylan was, as the reviews painted him, off on his own trip. Trying to recognize the vaguely familiar songs he was singing turned into a game of musical "Where's Waldo?" We were delighted by the awesome fiddle player in Green Card as well as Willie Nelson's harmonica player. Unfortunately Bob Dylan played his harmonica right after Willie's guy and the Icon paled big-time in comparison.

Posted by: Rick | Jun 25, 2005 2:13:01 PM

Hillary's charms are lost on me and I don't have a clue what she means when she opens her blow hole...does that make me a homophobe?

Posted by: frosty | Jun 25, 2005 2:51:15 PM

Don Katz of audible.com.

Posted by: The Barista | Jun 25, 2005 3:27:41 PM

Sounds like a fabulous time!! Why didn't I go? (banging head against keyboard).

Posted by: latebloomer | Jun 25, 2005 4:18:01 PM

I LOVE Frank Sinatra! Now HIM I wouldn't miss if he came to Little Falls!

Posted by: latebloomer | Jun 25, 2005 4:21:53 PM

"...the summer wind came blowin' in from across the sea..."

Posted by: frosty | Jun 25, 2005 4:25:04 PM

You never know, latebloomer. If we light some candles and all join hands, maybe we can bring him back.

Posted by: walleroo | Jun 25, 2005 4:47:35 PM

I must have been at a different show.

Willie was terrific - I've always been amazed by his quirky blues/country/jazz guitar stylings. He did a nice tight set featuring his old classics & handful of new numbers. I thought his son's playing was more than OK, but even better because of so many in the audience with their own progeny in tow.

Dylan was sensational. The amount of stage presence & energy he displayed was pretty amazing for a 64 year old rocker. The numbers performed were among his most iconic offerings from the 60's.

My two sons & I were right up front, stage right, about 20 feet from Dylan. Granted, his voice was a croak & his inflection & intonation made it hard to understand the lyrics if you didn't know the song, but the band was so good I could usually tell the song by the first chord.

& then when he played It Ain't Me & Rolling Stone for an encore....I was completely blown away.

Posted by: Greg (kool-aid drinker) Spinelli | Jun 25, 2005 5:03:12 PM

Oh yeah...& his harp playing... On one of the numbers (Just Like a Woman maybe) Dylan hit a level of soaring beauty at a level that I've never heard from him. Must still be learning new tricks, 'cause he didn't used to blow so hot.

Posted by: Greg (kool-aid drinker) Spinelli | Jun 25, 2005 5:08:00 PM

I must have been right next to you Greg. It was one of the best Dylan shows I've seen. I was with my daughter and some friends, and we had a blast.

The vibe in the crowd was amazing, and I couldn't believe I stood on my feet for nearly four hours.
I saw gobs of people I knew, fellow writers and a bunch from my synogogue, so there were more than the Barista spotted.
(Funny to see Mary Hickey's picture. The night before the concert I stood with her and Fred Strasser at Anderson Park to wave to our kids on the Project Graduation bus.)

And what was that odd smell in the crowd? It wasn't cigarettes, I know I've smelled it somewhere ....

Highlight for me was an amazing version of "It Ain't Me, Babe," (which has overtones of Dylan addressing his sometimes-fanatic followers) and "Desolation Row," his masterpiece, his "Wasteland," that shows an absolutely stunning poetic imagination.

I thought that all ages melded together in the warmth of the audience, at least up in front, and everyone rocked and swayed together, generations all one, at least for a time.
If Bob (or B-b as my wife insists I call him) had done "Forever Young" I would have been in tears.

Posted by: Martin | Jun 25, 2005 5:39:24 PM

Was it in Jersey that ZimmerDylan first went electric? I am having a running disagreement with a friend from the '60s (as if we could remember anything) who said it was Newport, RI where he was almost booed off the stage. For some deep, dark reason, I thought it was a concert in Jersey. A little help here, please?

Posted by: conan the grammarian | Jun 27, 2005 8:33:28 AM

Newport Folk Festival, 1965.

Posted by: Chris | Jun 27, 2005 8:47:18 AM


Thanks - that is what I have been able to document. He went on stage with some of Paul Butterfield's musicians and played a couple of electric songs and was booed off. Rumor had it that an apoplectic Pete Seeger wanted to cut off the power to the entire stage. What I am trying to find out is whether he played his next concert in NJ, and I am thinking somewhere in Monmouth, and played two sets: one acoustic, and a full electric set. If anyone can help me out with this one, I would be appreciative.

Posted by: conan the grammarian | Jun 27, 2005 12:03:38 PM

Conan, the historical jury is still out on whether Pete Seeger really was that mad at Newport 1965 (the notoriously croaky Communist fellow traveler said on PBS it was just the volume that bothered him). And also on just what kind of reception Dylan really got there. But, yes, it was the Paul Butterfield Band backing him up, along with Mike Bloomfield on guitar, probably because at the time all the artists had the same management firm, Groscourt (Albert Grossmann and John Court, whom I knew slightly).

The next Dylan appearance in electrified form, I believe, was August 65 at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Queens, not NJ, and the backing band for the electric set (and at a similar show in LA at the Hollywood Bowl) was The Hawks, soon to become The Band. Then came "Highway 61" in the recording studio, with perhaps the most famous contribution to Dylan's path to amplification being the keyboard work of Al Kooper (also on "Blonde On Blonde," I think).

There is also the story that, even before Newport, Dylan had in fact recorded an electric single version of "Mixed-up Confusion" b/w "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window" that was actually sent to deejays, then never played on the radio. Who really knows now? Still, the latter song did appear as an "A" side single at the very end of 1965 (and then not again in a Dylan version until 1985), I remember hearing it on WMCA. It also inspired a cover version by a group called the Vacels, which in fact was somehow released shortly before Dylan's original.

(All of the above is clearly in the vein of "too much information" re an artist I pretty much now think is a scary-looking joke, but shows how one can truly misspend one's youth.)

Posted by: cathar | Jun 27, 2005 1:13:43 PM

Cathar - thanks for the good stuff. I am glad to see that your amazing intellect embraces the true religion of Rock 'n Roll, too. That summer I was in a folk group opening for a Beatles cover band; we played the Jersey Shore June and July then Eastern Long Island in August. It was "The Summer of No Sleep" so I didn't keep pace with what was going on. I do recall an electrified Dylan gig - if it was in August '65, I was on the Island, so perhaps that is what I was remembering.

(FYI - Ronnie Hawkins and Robbie Robertson were still jammin' in the Fayetteville, AR, area -- at least into the late 90's when I was living there. Robertson has tried to re-incarnate The Band on several occasions, but it hasn't really taken hold.)

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