‘For the Sake of the Song’ takes on Bob Dylan

On May 24, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Forever young – Bob Dylan.

Forever young: Bob Dylan.

By Max Sullivan

Patrick Coman’s For the Sake of the Song online series, taped monthly at Johnny D’s in Davis Square, will be featuring an old deity in the songwriting community this Sunday night. Coman and his team will be celebrating Bob Dylan’s birthday – technically on May 24 – but this time around it’s going to be a little different, as he’s teaming up with local folk station WUMB to present a group of solo acoustic performers.

The series did an episode on Bob Dylan about a year and a half ago, but because of the of the recent outreach by WUMB, which plays a heavy amount of Dylan influenced folk music, as well as the fact that it’s Dylan’s birthday month, it seemed like a good idea to hold off on what was originally planned to be a Rolling Stones themed evening and put on a subtler celebration of folk’s undeniably greatest hero.

Coman commented on how important Dylan is, not only to the folkies, but to all songwriters. “Whether it’s his songwriting style, topical songwriting,” Coman said, “He has the chain of the folk genre, but also expanding the folk genre by going electric. Whatever direction he’s gone, there’s some trail that Bob Dylan’s paved for you.”

In particular, Coman appreciates Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man from 1965’s Highway 61 Revisited, and Blood on the Tracks’ closer, Buckets of Rain, from 1975. Of course, there’s Like a Rolling Stone, too, undeniably one of the best songs of the 60’s. Anyone who is familiar with For the Sake of the Song, though, will be ready to be surprised with some of the lesser known Dylan tracks that Coman and the musicians joining him will pull out.

On the bill for the evening will be Boston favorite Tim Gearan, who Coman described as an “institution.” Gearan, who has been playing in the Boston area for many years, including residencies as long as 15 years at places like Toad in Cambridge. Gearan has worked with many highly praised musicians, including Grace Potter.

Coman is excited to have someone as established as Gearan on the bill. “He’s been at it for a really long time around town, well regarded by other musicians,” Coman said. “If you walk around Somerville you see a lot of Tim Gerron stickers on people’s cars, so he’s definitely a local institution.”

Sunday’s show will be rounded out by three other local performers, this time around not including Coman and his Low-Fi Angels. Usually, they take the stage at the end of the night, but Coman said he’ll just be the MC on this occasion.

Having run on a monthly basis since January of 2012, Coman said he’s learned a lot from the show. For one, he’s experienced first hand how, when you put the right amount of effort into something, it has potential gain a lot of support, even when you might be prepared for a real struggle. It turned out for Coman that he found a lot of people who believed in what he was doing with the show, and Coman’s baby has grown to be a well-recognized local experience.

“From a personal perspective, one thing I’ve learned is if you can dream an idea and put it together, people will support you and help make it happen,” Coman said. “To have this idea and to watch it turn into a reality, that’s so thrilling.”

Coman’s also been surprised to find the support and appreciation that many artists have for the show. “To see how excited and warm so many performers are in town,” Coman said. “I would be hesitant to reach out sometimes. It shows to me how much people care about the music and the influences that have come before them.”



9 Responses to “‘For the Sake of the Song’ takes on Bob Dylan”

  1. Ray Spitzer says:

    Never liked Bob Dylan. Not sure what the hype was with this guy. Lyrics were not original, music unremarkable. At least, that’s the way I see it!

  2. Mike Allen says:

    Not surprising. Anyway, no his lyrics are anything but unoriginal, and he influenced everyone in popular music to the point that he should be considered the founding father of everything that the best of contemporary music is. Informed people do so.

  3. “…he’s teaming up with local folk station WUMB…”
    I am sure NPR affiliate WUMB’s professional staff is pleased with this, but it is wrong. Unless it has changed formats again, by its own marketing re-branding some five years ago, WUMB is not a folk station. WUMB dropped all references to being a folk station from its website, logo, promos, and even its monthly newsletter (“Folk Ripples” became “Ripples”) when it accepted the federal dollars.
    Read ” The station may even end up dumping its identification as “folk radio.”
    Change is in the air at WUMB
    By Clea Simon, Globe Correspondent | January 24, 2008″
    If the article is not accessible there, it was captured in
    “4th Anniversary Folk-to-AAA Format Change at “Boston’s NPR Music Station” – http://notlobmusic.blogspot.com/2013/01/4th-anniversary-folk-to-aaa-format.html
    Please do the public a favor, stop perpetuating the myth that WUMB is a folk station.

  4. Ray Spitzer says:

    Mike Allen, give me a break! I understand that fans can be pretty blind to reality, but your claims are way over the top. Bob got lucky he had a good manager who was plugged into the right network of people. That’s most of it. Many others did not get so lucky despite being much more talented, as Rodriguez can tell you (you should know, since he made a recent appearance in Somerville)!

  5. Mike Allen says:

    Blind to reality? Hilarious remark from one so lacking of Shinola-smarts yet obviously full of the other stuff. No, slick management didn’t make Dylan a success. Stupidest remark yet. Brilliant songwriting, performing and a commitment to the right sides of political and social issues did that. You want to bring up Rodriguez? No bigger Dylan imitator I can think of. You have no idea what you’re talking about, but, typical blowhard you are, you’ll keep at it until you lose interest. Please continue. Very entertaining.

  6. Ray Spitzer says:

    Rodriguez 1 – Dylan 0, I’m afraid.

  7. Bill Shelton says:

    Since art is a subjective experience, I think that reasonable people can disagree. I agree–and disagree–with both Ray and Mike. To me, Dylan was a highly ambitious genius without a core–moral or otherwise. This son of an appliance dealer from Hibbing, Minnesota initially got attention and a recording contract by concocting a colorful story about having grown up in Gallup, New Mexico and run away with the circus when he was 14.

    I think of his music as in three periods. In his first three albums, he said important things in a way that anyone could understand. In the next four, he said important things in ways that many people could not understand. During both periods, I think, he was lyrically brilliant, and as Mike says, influenced many other artists, brilliant and not so much so.

    Then, somewhere around 1967, he went through a personal crisis and could sustain neither his self deceptions nor his genius. From then on, he wrote songs that most folks could understand, but didn’t have much to say. With few exceptions, like Blood on the Tracks, his work for the last 46 years has been as Ray describes–unremarkable, often pretentious, and at times, bizarre.

    But as his brief collaborators, The Band, sang, “You take what you need and you leave the rest.”

  8. Mike Allen says:

    Good points, Bill. I myself don’t care for a lot of his stuff. But, despite how he may have broken into the business – and good on him I say for being clever enough to pull that off – and no matter how derivative the music may be – and what music isn’t? – for anyone to not recognize and acknowledge the influence he has had on popular music for some 50 years is ridiculous.

    Methinks Brother Ray yanks our collective chain a bit. No one who can lift a fork from his dinner plate to his mouth unassisted is this ignorant. He does, to his credit, have plenty of praise for Rodriguez, one of the more talented of the Dylan wannabees.

    Ray – 1, Ignorance – 1. Tie score.

  9. Ray Spitzer says:

    So, basically, Dylan got into the business by cheating and lying. That’s a nice example for kids. But starstruck Mike Allen will never admit the obvious!

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