Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Live Review: Dylan Fest 11/12/13 Bowery Ballroom, NYC

Best Fest: Bob Dylan 
11-12-13 Bowery Ballroom, NYC
When it was announced that the minds and players (Alex Levy-Guitar, Matt Romano-Drums, Austin Scaggs-Bass/MC) would be celebrating their 10th year of "Fests" at NYC's best live music spot, sponsored by Jameson, covering The Bard; RtBE's digital-head exploded. Any reader of the site has come across our Dylan love, anyone who has drank with us knows our Jameson weakness, this was a perfect storm. Our liver thanks The Cabin Down Below Band for holding the event on a Tuesday Night allowing for moderate whiskey consumption while focusing on the music. We purchased tickets early and were glad we did as it was sold out with all of the money going to the charity, Sweet Relief.

The night opened with the incredible adept house band running through "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" belting out the classic line about coming back to the Big Apple. When the first guest came out Ruby Amanfu nearly stole the whole show with her first song. A fluttering "Don't Think Twice" was majestic and powerful, having only seen Ruby with Jack White, more research will be needed into her style and thankfully she would return later in the show.

Early on the guests came out for one song each as the band went through a semi greatest hits collection of tunes. Erika Wennerstrom from the Heartless Bastards did a straight ahead "Positively 4th St", The Mooney Suzuki rocked out "Obviously Five Believers" and Jason Isbell accompanied his wife Amanda Shires as she sang a sweet "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go". The Wild Feathers took over the stage for their rousing "Your Ain't Going Nowhere" making an early highlight but for the most part the guests were sticking to favorites from Dylan's catalog.

Scaggs would ask if people were "ready for a little" then insert the album title before bringing out each guest, when he said "Anyone ready for a little, Street Legal", few cheered, that is until Craig Finn and a bearded Tad Kubler from The Hold Steady rocked "Where Are You Tonight?". Following it up with a rousing "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?" The duo had people in the crowd asking what songs those were, while certain people (present company) were more then eager to let them know.  Cheers to the boys from tHS for bringing a new obsessive level to the show.

While Nora Jones was a big name draw with her cover of "Just Like A  Woman" unannounced guest Karen Ellison's groovy version of "Cold Irons Bound" trumped the star. Elvis Perkins gave the live stage a studio back in '64 feel with a ramblingly great "Motorpsycho Nightmare". At this point Amanfu reemerged for a chill inducing, show stealing version of one of Dylan's best songs, "Not Dark Yet". This version from all involved stopped even the whiskey fueled drunks in their tracks with its emotion and style, A+ stuff.

After Ruby's performance the party got revved up with an all-star version of "Congratulations" from The Traveling Wilburys as Dani Harrison, Lukas Haas, Jake Dishel and Patrick Carney all came out to contribute with surprisingly Haas leading the way. On a side note it is odd that Carney was top billed for this show and played very briefly then bolted. Harrison on the other hand looked like he couldn't be happier as he stayed out to front a version of "Buckets Of Rain" and didn't leave the stage for long the rest of the night.

Doyle Bramhall II was given a late set slot as his silky guitar playing and crooning was showcased on epic tracks like "I Shall Be Released" and "If Not For You". As the guests started piling up to close things out Meshell Ndegeocello snuck in for a bubbling bass injection to "Maggie's Farm", Isbell came out this time to sing and play on a "Lay Lady Lay" and everyone got back out there for the rousing finale of "Knocking On Heaven's Door".

When the dust settled what was left was an amazing night of music, run smoothly and efficiently, hitting all the right notes. Shows like this can be a clusterfuck, this one looked easy I am sure things back stage were tougher but you'd never know it in the crowd or by the bar. Having been hesitant to attend these Fests in the past (for no good reason) it is safe to say I won't miss any of them again, a great cause, by amazing musicians with fine spirits? Pretty much perfect.  
Thanks to everyone involved, I am very happy to have contributed to this cause. I hope to have more from the group who puts these on in the future for RtBE so stay tuned,

Until then, xxsusannycxx has captured some amazing video from the show, I will post a few of our personal highlights here to get a feel for how things were, but I can't recommend this event highly enough. When it come to your town, go.
Craig Finn & Tad Kubler "Where Are You Tonight?"
Ruby Amanfu "Not Dark Yet"


Doyle Bramhall II "I Shall Be Released"

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