Dylan Fest honours a living legend

In a year when the world of music is mourning the loss of icons including Prince, David Bowie and Merle Haggard, musicians of all genres and generations continue to celebrate a still-active legend – Bob Dylan – in an annual all-star concert series. This year’s two-day Dylan Fest, in Nashville, Tennessee, included classics such as […]

In a year when the world of music is mourning the loss of icons including Prince, David Bowie and Merle Haggard, musicians of all genres and generations continue to celebrate a still-active legend – Bob Dylan – in an annual all-star concert series.

This year’s two-day Dylan Fest, in Nashville, Tennessee, included classics such as Like a Rolling Stone, Tangled Up in Blue and All Along the Watchtower. The 15th edition – featuring Ann Wilson of Heart, Wynonna Judd, Emmylou Harris, Kacey Musgraves, Jason Isbell, Butch Walker and Kesha – took place last week, coinciding with Dylan’s 75th birthday, at the historic Ryman Auditorium. The performances were livestreamed on AOL.com.

Dylan Fest started at a bar on the Lower East Side of New York City when a small group of friends got together to sing Dylan’s songs on his 60th birthday. Since then, the concert has expanded to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin and Chicago, raised money for charities and included musical celebrations of other icons including Tom Petty, George Harrison, Fleetwood Mac and the Beach Boys.

“It’s quite a trend when someone dies to try to pay tribute to them,” says Dylan Fest organiser Austin Scaggs, a music writer and musician. “I like to celebrate when these people… are alive and I want them to know there is another generation behind them, or two generations now, that are feeling the same feeling about their music.”

A day after her impressive performance of Dylan’s It Ain’t Me, Babe at the Billboard Music Awards, pop singer Kesha was in Nashville to deliver a standout version of Dylan’s gospel song I Shall Be Released, for which she received a standing ovation.

The singer, who had hits with Tik Tok and We R Who We R, is part of what Scaggs likes to call the “Fest Family”, which also includes the Kings of Leon, Norah Jones, Dhani Harrison and Jakob Dylan.

“I sense a specialness about her, a uniqueness,” says Scaggs of Kesha.

“And I know that manifests itself with her acting crazy or acting wild, but the bottom line is she has an incredible voice and she has a real passion for music.”

Backstage, the musicians waiting to perform mostly included young millennials from Americana, folk, indie rock and country, a second generation of Dylan fans.

“If you want to listen to great songs, instead of going to a thousand artists, you can just go to his catalogue and find so many great ones,” says singer- songwriter Holly Williams, who sang The Times They Are A-Changin’.

“No matter how old, how young you are, we can all relate to the lines, ‘Come gather round people wherever you roam and admit that the waters around you have grown’,” she adds.

artslife@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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