"Night 2 of 3"
Little Robby Zimmerman wowed 'em and powed 'em again last night at House Of Blues in Dallas, Texas with another scintillating set. Taking the stage at 7pm and leaving precisely two hours later at 9, he and his band did indeed shake things up a bit by altering the set somewhat from the night before. The most appreciated addition was undoubtedly a hushed, lowdown version of "Masters Of War," which featured very low lighting to make the band appear as if they were playing by candle light. This lighting effect had not been employed for any songs the night before. Also added was a wonderful version of "Visions Of Johanna."
I should say at this point I am not a Dylanologist, although I consider myself a true and dedicated fan. But I quickly abandoned my attempt at keeping track of which songs were being played, in order to just relax and enjoy the show. The band seemed perhaps a little more 'on' than the previous night; they are no doubt getting into the swing of things. I had the pleasure of speaking briefly after the show with guitarist Denny Freeman, who proved for the second night he is a force to be reckoned with. He has the power and hook of Stevie Ray Vaughan, but also the funky warm understatement of older brother Jimmie. He is truly a heartfelt player, and Mr. Dylan would do well to keep him close by at all times. I found myself telling him, "I think you're my new favorite guitarist," not quite believing I was saying it. His response was to shake my hand. Deal.
I really can't offer a traditional review or summary of this or any performance; I'm not that kind of writer. The vibe and adventure of a gig is just important as which songs are and are not played. Having said that, I will tell you of my evening. I had gotten a photo pass from House Of Blues; the management of the club have gone beyond the call of duty in making sure I have a good time at these shows; when I told them that Ticketmaster had screwed up two of my four ticket orders for the shows, they immediately made it their business to prove that things can be done a better way, and indeed they can. House Of Blues are now owned by Live Nation, perceived by many as a vast corporation vacuming up any type of real estate they can grab in the 'plains on fire' entertainment landscape. They just gave Madonna about a trillion dollars to oversee all aspects of her career, from merchandising, concert booking, and album releases. Typically I'm pretty anti-corporate, but the people I've met with this company at House Of Blues have proved to be very human and very cool. They went out of their way to make sure I had a good time after they found out about my Ticketmonster fiasco. I kept telling them, "But it wasn't your fault, it was theirs...," to which the response remained, "Yes, but you paid a lot of money to come see these shows, and we want to make sure you're glad you came to House Of Blues." I'm not here to sing their praises, but the simple truth is, it is quite uncommon to be treated as an important customer these days at a larger concert venue. I was pleasantly surprised by the venue and its staff. More power to 'em. Maybe even corporate can be cool?
So anyway I took a lot of pictures with my little chocolate Nikon. And something amazing happened. Near the end of the show, I was leaning out over the balcony rail, snapping away for a few minutes. And as I reeled myself back in, I dropped my camera. In horror, I saw it fall to a certain...catch. Against all mathematical odds, my Nikon strap somehow looped itself over a tiny iron leaf in the railing, and my camera was hanging and swinging, safe and sound. I was stunned. As I untangled it from the leaf and walked back up the aisle, a lady yelled, "Good catch!" And then another man yelled, "Dude, how did you do that?" My camera was stealing Bobby's thunder.
Ending again with the new 2000's version of "Blowing In The Wind," (I prefer it over the old), evening two proved every bit as wonderful as evening one had been. After a few minutes of small talk with other fans, I decided to split and go home. The House Of Blues is a strange maze of clubs, bars and shops. You take the elevator up, turn right, turn left, find that your only choice left is to walk down some stairs, and then you get on the elevator again. There is no limit to the number of times you can do this. After about three attempts at using the elevator, I finally went up to a door and opened it and walked into a crowded, colorful room. I began exploring. I soon realized I was smack dab in the middle of the ultra exclusive Foundation Room. I thought, "I better have a drink before they kick me out." To make a long story endless, a girl named Emily introduced herself and said she recognized my jacket from photos on my website. Turns out she works for Live Nation, and had been the one to initiate the VIP treatment for me in response to my mailout about Ticketmonster. Small world but I won't be putting it in my pocket. Anyway Emily and I hit it off and she made the mistake of a lifetime; "Let me know if you ever need anything." Poor girl...
After an hour of evesdropping and listening to about ten people say "Dude, that thing your camera did with the balcony was uh-MAY-zing, I decided to split. I went to the band's hotel (The ever ritzy Crescent) in search of Denny Freeman, and parked myself in the bar, Nobu. It must be short for Nobullshit, because it was one of the best drinking experiences of my pathetic life. The first hour was dull, with lots of loud rap and techno music, so to relieve my boredom, I left the bar and walked through the (five star luxury) hotel looking for trouble. I found an area where I guess they serve rich people free continental breakfasts. I looked through an assortment of tiny cereal boxes and selected a whole wheat treat called Complete. Put it in my pocket. Grabbed a Diet Coke bottle and a glass, and returned to the bar. Once back in my spot, I put the cereal box on my table and poured myself a Diet Coke, and asked the waitress to bring me some ice. And then things shifted.
Out of boredom, I began shaking the Complete box to the rhythm of the rap music. It actually sounded cool. A lady two tables down yelled, "You got it - shake it!" So I shook the cereal so to speak, and then threw the box to her. She began shaking it, and then handed it to someone else and they shook it. I started a new trend. Soon, in chic bars and clubs all over the world, all the beautiful people will be cha cha-ing to the beat with a mini box of Frosted Flakes.
I returned to the scene of the crime. I nabbed five more boxes of cereal and some fancy silver tongs, and went back to the bar. I went down the aisle offering customers breakfast cereal, and handed each patron a cereal box with my new tongs, as if they were exotic treasures. Were they? So we all shook our cereal to the crazy new beat. Techno flakes? Shake shake shake. Next time I'll ask for a bowl of milk. I never dance, but a nice lady demanded I learn the Pretzel. I warned her of impending disaster, but she would hear none of it. Somehow, she managed to spin us around through a crazy 8 pattern without breaking my wrists. After about four Pretzels, she took her Raisin Bran and split. It was my first dance since about 1979. Might be my last.
By 2am, I was headed home in Billy Preston, my trusty '91 Lexus. I fell asleep in my living room chair while looking at pictures of Bob Dylan, the ones I had taken.
By the way, I wrote a poem during one of his songs. Not because I was bored, but because I was inspired. Something he said put a spark in my brain, and I began scribbling in the dark. The poem is called Magazine; ask for it by name. The greatest compliment you can pay Bob Dylan is not a rave about Blonde On Blonde; it is to write a poem while he is trying to command your full attention. I don't know him, but I'm pretty sure he wants more poetry in the world. Could be wrong. But I wrote another one, too, called Six. I bet you'd like to hear it.
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