Summer 2011 - Kait's Headin' For Another Joint Journal

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As time goes on the chances to go and see Bob seem to come farther and fewer between. Between not being able to afford a good seat at seated show, not being able to afford the gas to see a whole run in the wild west and generally having responsibilities at home it’s been a light couple of years. Now, as my life changes again, I found myself driving though the heart of what I call “Bob country”. Bob country is a vast land with small, old cities dotted across the map at just the right distance. The area where it’s easy to be able to see 4 or 5 shows on a tour without having driven thousands of miles. I was feeling rather sentimental passing though the places I knew only from the countless hours sitting in line, running back and forth to hotels, living out of the car and wondering where the best place to get a cheap meal was. Gazing out of the car window, seeing those very places at times, really made me miss that old summer lifestyle. Fortunately for me, this time my cross country trip ended with a wonderful mini-excursion to see my best friends, Caroline and Bob.


After 3 long days of west to east driving I was in Ohio again at last. I checked into a budget motel, walked and fed my dogs and headed to the most wonderful Toledo Zoo. Toledo Zoo is a great place to see a concert-in fact all the places I saw shows this summer were lovely. The Zoo has great staff, decent drinks and a great crowd. We meandered around and chatted with folks new and old and waiting for the Man. With only a few minutes to go the excitement was building and I realized it had been almost a year since I had seen Bob last. Mr. Jinx, always on top of what’s going on, scored us 3 front row tickets. Happily we realized that everyone was going to be standing, despite the seats, which is the best you can ask for in that situation. It was great to be together again, with Bob, raging the front row on our original turf. There were many stand outs from that night, not having seen Bob in a year-ish made all the songs new and exciting. I had been thinking about Baby Blue and how it especially potent with my friend, Baby Blue.This is a song that works well with this band. The band is subtle, but strong and it seems to push itself along fittingly with the feeling of the song. It conveys the pain of the lyrics musically well. Things Have Changed had taken on a rather cowboy feel. Quick paced and unlike any versions I’ve heard before. I imagine Bob will be dancing to it soon.


Next highlight was Beyond Here Lies Nothin. I’ve loved this song since I first heard it at the Greek in Berekely in 09. I’ve always imagined it in the setlist shining like Summer Days did in the 01-02 years. It keeps getting better and better-as does Bob’s guitar playing-I look forward to its progressions in the coming years. Having Mississippi back in the set was a wish I had earlier this year. I thought it would be a perfect song to showcase Bob’s voice and let the band back him up more gently. Bob’s voice is a strong as I’ve heard it in years and the weight and thought he puts into each word is evident, especially in this song. It was rollicking, rolling like a boat and fit well for the old river towns he was playing in this summer. Highwater-replaced only by Beyond Here lies Nothing-was my favorite live song for many years. First I loved it as the it’s “original” live bluegrassy version. As my tastes (and apparently Bob’s) have changed, the song has also changed. Now, as a rollicking song akin to Things have Change in it’s current incantation, it feels more loose and sarcastic these days. Still a highlight, in each of its realities.


The Levee’s Gonna Break gave the band the opportunity to show off a bit. Charlie and Stu stepped up the plate, Donnie always holding strong too. I always love the chance to get down. By the time Thin Man comes along, I’m a little sad. I know the song is going to be over soon and it feels like the show was so brief. This song is a perfect show closer. Bob’s dancing, jazzhands and other classic moves have really elevated the energy of the song and leaving a simple, strong tune for the band to back Bob up. Luckily for us, the show felt a little longer with Bob deciding to play a 3rd encore without even leaving the stage. Blowin was a gorgeous way to close the show at the zoo and sending us off into the night. Satisfied, we parted ways at the cars where we had met earlier and reminisced about shows gone by. I got back on the interstate, a mainstay of my last week, pulled into the hotel and grabbed the dogs in a flash and headed south for a few hours to reflect on a fun show with my friends. Another familiar scenario that hasn’t been so familiar in the recent past. 


Cleveland was a totally different experience. Another seated show, but no one to go to the show with this time. I bought a ticket, but ended up getting a better one directly after. My dad hadn’t been to a show since Kent 02 and it’s surely a different show these days. Since I had the ticket and no Father’s Day gift I thought it would be a great one and he agreed. Since I would be driving onto meet Caroline again in Michigan, we both drove. Back into the car, more time to think. We have a gorgeous country though, so I guess I didn’t mind.


We checked into a very cool Holiday Inn downtown in Cleveland. Formerly a bank, it had high ceiling, marble and hardwood floors and a great view. Cleveland, where my dad’s people come from, is a beautiful old city showcasing all the best styles of architecture from the industrial ages and beyond both ways in time. Quick wardrobe change and we were off to The Flats. Cleveland doesn’t have much going on when there’s no baseball game, etc so we headed to the Renaissance hotel grabbed a cab and went to the pub. Had a nice bite to eat and talked Bob with Dad. Coincidentally a friend of mine from California (well I know her from there even though she’s from Michigan) was in town and we downed a few drinks with them. Soon after Greg from Cleveland, Tim Canada and more friends showed up and we had a big table of Bob fans hanging. Not long after we headed over to the venue, procured some refreshments and settled in.


As you would expect I ran into Greg and Tim and we talked Bob business until Bob was about to come on. My seat didn’t end up being very good, but I was able to stand behind some people standing in the front row and had a better view. About half the crowd was standing, luckily most of them in my section. People seemed chatty and more casual at this show than Toledo. Earlier in the day my dad and I were talking about how Bob and he mentioned Hattie Carroll and Hollis Brown. Both were really well done. Hollis was a little faster, more deliberate sounding. Between some verses the band plays what I can only describe as some raw, dreamy, distant interludes and it all seems urgent and nervous. Hattie showcased Bob’s singing in the middle section and the band really laid back, but played skillfully throughout. Anyone who says he can’t sing a melody is crazy. Simple Twist is another song that really stands out with this band. I love Bob’s guitar playing and way the band lays low for the most part while he sings and plays. It has a rather far off and dreamy feeling as well, which I’m noticing can be heard a lot in the sounds that are really sounding good this tour. As always it was over before I knew it and I found my dad and an old friend and returned to the bar we had been at earlier, nearing closing the place down hanging with friends and interesting characters. Not to mention the man who appeared out of the shadows and summoned a cab when there were none and rode back downtown with dad and I. After brunch with dad at the Winking Lizard downtown I hit the road to Michigan.


Back onto the Ohio turnpike, a rip-off of a road that allows you to drive 70 through a portion of our fair state. Back through Toledo where my recent cross country odyssey had ended and before I knew it I was back in Ann Arbor. Another familiar landing spot of tours past, I was thinking how sentimental our Ohio and Michigan tour really was. I got to Caroline’s parents house and we were quickly off to a quick get together at a friend’s place with the cutest dog ever. Meadowbrook is a great venue. Trees right up to the stage, lots of places in the shade and an obvious legendary place for shows in the Detroit area. It was a nice place to have a relaxing stroll around the lawns and wait for the show to start. We found a garden bench by a nice gazebo and relaxed while the sun started to go down. In the crowd we ran into a lot of old road pals, talking about the tour, what was next. Felt weird, as always, to say that this was the last show that we were going to. Made worse by the fact Bob would be playing in Scotland for my birthday this year. No chance of making that. After pleasant strolls though the park-like venue, we took our seats stage right next to the catwalk. I hoped Bob would bust out of his normal dancing and have a stroll out there during the show. Sometimes having the end seats on a row is good, and this was one of those times. With stairs and no one behind us we were free to dance and enjoy the show despite the fact that the rest of the crowd seemed content to sit the entire time. Bob walking on stage is always thrilling. Always the chance it’s going to be one of those top shows you will always talk about.


Highlights from Meadowbrook were Leopard Skin, as I hadn’t heard it recently. Same rocking opening that I remembered. I thought the sound was especially good at this show for some reason. Bob was singing especially good on this song. I like being outside at shows in the summer. It’s nice to sweat it out with Bob in the fresh air. This setting was especially nice because it’s older, more established and has more spirit in the air. Tryin’ To Get To Heaven was my favorite from this show. Since the 2000 version, which I hear ghosts of in today’s, I’ve adored it live. “I’ve tried to give you everything, everything that your heart was longing for” Bob played some great organ on this too. Really into it and dancing while he played as well as a great harmonica theory that sent the crowd wild. Of course, this only fueled his fire. Love that! He looked inspired and concentrated on every word. “I shook the suuuuuuggggaaarrrrr down” Sometimes Bob cracks me up. Simple Twist was great as always. I just love the way Bob’s voice sounds when he plays this songs. He has a fine vibrato to his voice these days that is really highlighted by this song. Other verses he growl out with supreme conviction. His guitar playing was also especially good this evening as well. We hung around the venue for awhile and said our final goodbyes to the road friends that we miss so much. We jumped back into the car and headed south again. The next morning the sadness really set in. Going home, no more Bob til who knows when, saying bye to Caroline. It wasn’t a happy 5 hours in the car, aside from the occasional remembrance that there would be many more Bob-tastic times to come with any luck!--Kait

Bob Dylan Toledo Zoo Summer 2011
Bob Dylan Toledo Zoo Summer 2011