Nashville, Tennessee

Ryman Auditorium

August 1, 2011

[Francis King], [Charlie Mattos], [Kerry Hamlett], [Linda Moon]

Review by Francis King

Bob Dylan's performance at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville last night 
was a welcome and grand improvement over his appearance last year at 
Music City's Municipal Auditorium.  In part, this was attributable to 
the fact that the Ryman is a vastly superior venue, both sound-wise and 
in its overall aesthetic.  But, there was more to it than that.  This 
time out, Dylan was much more engaged in the show, his voice was much 
stronger (hardly any atonal croaking) and both his organ and harmonica 
playing stood out as interesting and skillful instead of pedestrian, 
repetitive and boring, as they were last time he was here.  And, the 
band was equally engaged.  The multi-instrumental Donnie Herron was no 
longer lost in the mix, and could actually be heard. Charlie Sexton 
played a lot more lead. The whole ensemble was tight and energized, not 
muddled, and Dylan's organ fit in with the band this time (as opposed to 
drowning everyone else out, as it did at the Municipal Auditorium show).

The set list was decidedly 21st Century, but some old classics were 
included.  I am getting a little tired of Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat as 
the opener, but it was nicely done.  In the no. 2 slot was an upbeat 
rendition of It's All Over Now Baby Blue that was reasonably good.  But 
then, BD and the band really started to kick in with a very good, new 
arrangement of Things Have Changed, with Bob taking center stage, the 
showman in full command.  He remained there for a strong Tangled Up in 
Blue and then to play some neat electric guitar riffs on Beyond Here 
Lies Nothin' (much better than the studio version).  Dylan then moved 
back to the organ for a re-worked, very credible Mississippi (a great 
song that he has not done much live), and there then followed four 
terrific performances in a row: High Water (great to be able to hear 
Herron on banjo for a change!), a marvelous rendition of Sugar Baby, a 
blistering Highway 61 with great lead guitar by special guest, Lukkas 
Nelson, and very good, interesting organ playing by BD, and then, a 
moving Forgetful Heart that left the studio version in the dust.  Dylan 
wound up the show with strong, albeit predictable, offerings of Thunder 
On The Mountain, Ballad of A Thin Man, Like A Rolling Stone and a 
somewhat strange, yet enjoyable, Blowin' in The Wind.

All in all, this was an excellent show, and the crowd loved it.  I do 
have to say that the set list has become  a little too predictable for 
my taste.  With a catalog of hundreds of songs to choose from, I'd like 
to see Bob mix it up more.  And, while his organ playing has improved 
dramatically, I'd still like to see him vary the fare with some of the 
great electric piano he was playing a few years back.  (And, will he 
EVER pick up an acoustic guitar again??)  That being said, this is a guy 
who does what he wants, and has done so for 50 years. It would be 
foolish to expect that to change. (Speaking of which, those who 
persistently complain about Dylan's constant reworking and rearranging 
of his songs are missing the boat.  The fact that he does this is what 
makes his live shows so compelling!  No one else engages in the kind of 
revamping and experimentation with his own material that Dylan 
undertakes. I remember reading, back in 1976, a comment by him to the 
effect that the songs are not paintings that you complete and just hang 
up on a wall. They are not fixed or static.  Dylan's songs are living 
art, subject to many interpretations, meanings and moods.  They change 
to him, and they change to the audience. I think that's great!)

And finally, it must be noted that just the fact that he can still pull 
it off as well as he does, trekking the globe at the age of 70, is 
pretty amazing.  The man shows no sign of slowing down, and as long as 
he's showing up, so will I.


Comments by Charlie Mattos

I concur with Francis' review of the Ryman Auditorium show. Bob
was in very fine form, in fact it's the most animated I've ever seen
him, and a vast improvement from the November 2010 Nashville show.     

Just one other note of interest, following the last encore, "Blowin'
in the Wind", Bob paused, walked to the edge of the stage, bent down
and grabbed a sharpie from a young fan and signed what appeared
to be a large harmonica case !   Never seen him do that...

Charlie Mattos
Nashville, TN


Story by Kerry Hamlett

Well, let me start off by saying I've been a huge fan of Bob's since I was a
teenager (I'm 38).  I was such a huge fan that I named my son Dylan.  My son is
12 years old.  I promised my son I would take him to see Bob in concert a long
time ago & just wanted to wait until he was old enough to really enjoy it.  When
I heard that he was going to be at the Ryman tickets were already sold out.  I
found someone who had the front row center stage tickets for sale & just had to
bite the bullet & buy them.  The Ryman show was the 15th time I saw Bob in

Right before we left our house the day of the show, I  said to my son "let's
take one of your harmonica's".  My son inherited a nice little (antique)
collection of Hohner harmonica's from my father when he passed away 3 years ago.
 My son was very excited about the possibility of getting an autograph & ran
upstairs & brought down his 1937 Hohner harmonica.  I honestly thought he would
never get an autograph from Bob, especially on a harmonica & an antique one at
that.  But, I knew my son would enjoy trying.

After getting our tickets we hung out (for hours) around the (hot garbage 
smelling) alley to the left of the building hoping to catch a glimpse of Bob
arriving.  While we were out there Charlie Sexton came out for a smoke & I told
my son to go over & ask him to autograph his shirt & Charlie very graciously
signed his left shoulder.  Then, a few minutes later Tony Garnier came out & he
signed the right shoulder.  You can see both autographs in the pic.  We never
did get to see Bob arrive.

When Leon Russell finished playing their last song his lead guitar player 
was pulling his guitar pics out of his mic stand & I motioned to him to 
throw one our way & he threw one to my son & seconds later the drummer 
walked up to my son & gave him the drumstick he used & it was pre-signed!  I
said jokingly to my son "now all we have to get is that harmonica signed".

When Bob came out I went through my usual min-nervous breakdown I always 
have for the first 5-10 minutes when I see him live.  My son had a sparkle in
his eye & a grin from ear to ear the whole concert.  I swear Bob looked at my
son so many times when he was center stage.  Even the people around us were
saying Bob's staring at or locked in your son.  It was odd!  I caught my son
rockin' out quite a few times.  He was so cute & it was such a great experience
for us to see Bob together front row at the Ryman.  If the autograph didn't
occur it still would have been an incredible memory for us.

We had derived a plan earlier to take the harmonica out of my purse when the
lights went down for the encore.  The Ryman doesn't allow fans to have musical
instruments in the building.  My son put the harmonica on the stage right in
front of him right before they started with Blowin' In The Wind. At the end of
Blowin' In The Wind, Bob & the band lined up & started their usual "shows over"
routine & my son & I both looked at each other at the same time & said "NOW"! 
My son raised the harmonica up in the air in one hand & the Sharpie marker in
the other  hand.  Then my son motioned like he was signing it himself & then he
yelled "Bob Please"!  My son shook them both a couple more times in the air. 
The band started walking off the stage & Bob walked up to the his mic & paused
for second, then walked right up to my son & took the harmonica & the Sharpie
from him, signed it & handed it right back to my son.  Bob never said a word & I
was so lucky to have snapped that perfect picture of Bob while he was signing
the harmonica with my cell phone.  After Bob walked away my son & I turned
around & a large crowd of people were moving towards us.  Men & women started
yelling things like:  "Did Bob give that to you?", "I'll give you 30 bucks for
it", "Did Bob sign that?", "Do you know how lucky you are?", "Bob doesn't sign
autographs", "This going to go viral", "Let me see it", "You're a lucky boy",
"He doesn't do that", "I've seen Bob over 70 times & I have never seen him do
that".  It was SO overwhelming!  I was crying & shaking.  My son was white as a

WOW!  Still can't believe it happened!  I said to my son early in the day 
"were never going to forget this day".  So odd because it turned out to be SO

Something else I should mention about my son is that he joined his school 
band last year when he started 6th grade at Springfield Middle School.  He began
playing the trumpet, then piano, then french horn all within months. His band
teacher (Roger Bunch) & his piano teacher (Musetta Swann) have told me numerous
times he is "gifted".  He had no interest in school prior to 6th grade & now he
doesn't want to miss a day & his grades are fantastic.  He said on the way home
after the show he is going to really focus on leaning to play the harmonica
after hearing Bob play it live.  He will not be playing the autographed one
though!  I believe that this experience will only strengthen his interest in

Check out this link of my son playing Tchaikovsky's 5th symphony 2nd movement, on french horn:  
Thank you,
Kerry Hamlett
Dylan's mother


Review by Linda Moon

I did some traveling in the South to attend Bob Dylan concerts in Pensacola, FL 
on July 27th and at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on August 1st. The concerts 
were somewhat like comparing apples and oranges, in that they are both fruits, 
but are different in taste and texture….everybody knows that! Of the 15 songs 
performed at both concerts, only two were different, so you could say the fruit 
was virtually the same.  But the texture of the concerts was different.  The 
acoustics at the Pensacola Civic Center were the best of any of the venues I’ve 
been to since 2005, which made Bob and Leon’s lyrics clear.  Bob was animated 
and his voice was tonal and musical  during both performances.  He performed in 
front of the mic on many songs, seemingly with his audience in mind, instead of 
hiding behind keyboards. The Ryman’s acoustics were not as good for understanding 
the lyrics that I had heard clearly a few days earlier in Pensacola, but the intimacy 
and history of the great old auditorium was worth the strain to recognize words to 
familiar songs.  The 3-song encores at both places were a surprise, and I wondered 
what the on-stage ‘scuffle’ was all about during the 2nd encore at the Ryman - was 
this a gag?  When Bob shook the hand of a fan down on the front row, from my 
vantage point about two-thirds back, I perceived that this was no gag.  When he 
reached out to sign an autograph, that was a first for me and most folks to witness!
I left the concert with heightened enthusiasm, hoping to hear about the lucky 
person who got that autograph.  Bill, thanks for sharing the story and photos of 
Dylan and his mom and the Harmonica!  And, thanks to Mr. Dylan for reaching out 
to young Dylan!

I heard ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ in 1962 on my old 45rpm record player.  I’m not Bob’s 
age ‘…Yet, But I’m Getting There.’  I’m getting there, because I have survived.  
On June 28th, 2005,  I was in line at the Herschel Greer Stadium in Nashville waiting 
for one of Bob’s minor league ballpark concerts.  I got a call.  Not completely 
unexpected, but not expected at that time and that place.  “You have cancer,” 
were the words I heard from the other end, from my doctor back home in Alabama.  
When I told her where I was, she made all the arrangements for me to see the 
specialist and make plans for surgery when I returned.  I had Chronicles in my car, 
and I thought very little about the diagnosis, but I thought about Bob’s life story in 
Chronicles and about how my ‘story’ had just played out.  So, I thought I’d give it a
shot and ask a crew member to get it autographed for me.  Just because I had
received bad news, there was no way I was going to  allow it to interfere with 
all-things-Bob for me at that moment, at that place.  I told the crew member the 
news I had just received, and now I have the book, signed, and it will always be a 
reminder of my survival.  Bob Dylan concerts will always be on my agenda.  I hope 
to spend many more years watching and  listening to this man and his music.


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