El Paso, Texas
University Of Texas El Paso
Don Haskins Center
April 12, 2006

[Jim Maupin]

Review by Jim Maupin

Okay, I'll try my hand at this review thing.  I promised that I would 
avoid overusing cryptic metaphors and snips of lyrics. So here I go.

Oh Wow! The Merle Haggard Show!  It was worth the price of the floor  seat
admission all by itself.  A consummate professional, Merle  played all my
favorites from those old 8 track tapes I used to travel  with and he
worked hard to connect with the El Paso crowd.  His voice  wove through
his hour-long set like a silver thread, and he showed he  can still play
the lead licks on electric guitar.  Awesome!

Bob came on after the stage-set change, that included the mini-spot  above
Oscar, to a hard driving Maggie's Farm and never looked back  until the
final bars of All Along The Watchtower faded through the  rafters of the
Don Haskins Center.  The Band moved through its 14  song set with a polish
that I have come to expect from Bob's shows.   Playing, as usual, with the
finest of musicians I could see no  evidence of a lack of enthusiasm in
the band.  Yes, there was no  great effort to connect with the audience,
but this is nothing  unusual.  Every effort was focused on connecting to
the song of the  moment.  The musicians seemed symbiotically entwined as
they worked  to flawlessly deliver their arrangements of old and
not-so-old Dylan  songs.  The tightness of the sound is an indication of a
great night  for those waiting for a chance to see the show at their local
venue.   The Band was clearly doing more than playing notes and chord 
changes.  Each song was an organic whole linked together by a 
conversation across the silver strings, harmonica strands, and the 
ever-present driving beat of George Recile and Tony Garnier.  Others  have
heaped praise on Donnie, Stu, and Denny, but George and Tony deserve their
props.  Tony has been with  the Band since 1989 and is the straw that
stirs the drink and the one  you can count on to keep the ever changing
rhythms of new  arrangements on time.  Watching Tony and George
communicate between  and during the ever-changing arrangements is a real
clinic delivered  by two of the best in the business as they work to keep
everyone  together.

I've seen a lunch bucket full of these "Never-Ending Tour" shows  
since the Mesa Amphitheater Gig in 1988 when Bob announced that he  
would be out to play when those "Big Guys out front of the stage move 
aside" saying he trusted the crowd not to interfere with the show,  and I
never cease to be enthralled in the places he takes his songs.   I can
appreciate the lament of those disappointed in Bob's  performance because
he hasn't stuck to the album versions of his  songs, but the times they
continually change.  Has he really tried to  consistently perform studio
versions since Newport '65?

My advice, Run, Don't Walk to get your ticket and as the poster says,  "BE

Jim Maupin


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