Reviews

Bethel, New York

Bethel Woods Center For The Arts

June 30, 2007


[Mike Skliar], [Larry Kosofsky], [Peter Stone Brown], [Howard Weiner], [Steve Goldberg] [Don Ely]

Review by Mike Skliar



Just back from a fantastic show at Bethel- the exact site of the 1969
woodstock festival, even tho woodstock (the town) is many miles away. 

This is my second show of this tour, having seen Wantagh (Jones Beach) the
night before (review also posted here)... and these were perfect shows to
see back-to back, as bob did something like 11 or 12 different songs
tonight at bethel from the jones beach show. Both fantastic shows, each
had their own flavor, and this time, a wonderful and responsive crowd. 

I should mention that the bethel performance arts center (or whatever
they're calling it) is a beauty, located at the top of a large hill, with
stunning views all around. Very well run, too, with decent (for this type
of place) assortment of food, picnic areas, places to hang out, etc.. and
a friendly and helpful staff, unlike the 'police state' paranoid antics of
the jones beach security staff. 

Unfortunately, as great as the facility is, no one thought that it might
be a problem to get 16,000 people to the facility and out again on a few
one lane country roads.. so there were big traffic jams getting in, and
even bigger traffic jams getting out... someone build a decent road to go
along with the great facility! 

ok, on to the show... 

started with : 

1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat 

a great change-up from yesterday' opener of 'cats in the well'. This song
was focused, with great (especially for an opening song )delivery of the
long long lines by bob.. you could tell it was going to be one of those
great nights right away. 

2. The Times They Are A-Changin' 

another fine version of this.. it's more electric then versions in years
past, with a bit more space between the verses, and a long pause before
the payoff chorus line each time around as well. Bob started doing some
lead guitar on this one, which was that idiosyncratic bob-playing, but it
didn't distract too much. Looking up over the crowd, all the way back to
the top of the hill/lawn area ( i had great seats for the show in the 7th
row).. you got the feeling that this was one huge campfire or something...
there seemed to be a real connection with the crowd.. maybe some of them
had waited 38 years for bob to come to this exact spot and give a 'state
of the union-in song' address and here it was.. 

3. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight 

a fun version- and bob did an obstinate hold-one-note guitar solo that
seemed like a mission statement about standing firm in the face of change
and adversity, perhaps? or maybe he just forgot the other notes.. either
way, the song had a big grin all the way thru 

4. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) 

I wrote about the version the night before (at jones beach) and said- 

there's a new arrangement of this, and it's wonderful- the band subtly
percolating behind bob with an open, expansive and slightly spacey groove,
without that bluesy "root- then up a minor third-then the fifth" riff
which is part of almost every other version he's done . I thought early on
i'd miss the riff, but i found i didn't and the lack of that by
now-somewhat clichťd riff gave bob the freedom to really deliver the lines
well. 

and unlike last night, tonight at bethel ther were no lyric flubs at all
that i could hear, tho the cd will reveal exactly how it all went down. 

and also unlike last night , tonight at bethel, the crowd gave a huge roar
to the line 'sometimes even the president of the united states must have
to stand naked' ! ah, the great, progressive left-leaning portion of
upstate new york was letting their freak flag fly, and g-d bless em! 

then bob slipped behind the keyboard for the rest of the show, which
started with: 5. Just Like A Woman 

a fine version, with donny doing some of the original licks on pedal
steel, denny doing a fine jazz-inflected solo that went places (denny was
a star all night, doing some of the most interesting playing i've heard
him do), and bob delivering the lyrics a bit gruffly, tho well done. He
weirdly left out the words 'introduced as friends' in that great last
verse, pausing awkwardly there, it seemed. IT wasnt up to the heights of
the Bangladesh 1971 version, or rolling thunder '75, but fine
nevertheless. 

6. The Levee's Gonna Break 

here's where the band started to really lay down some serious swamp
groove. Bob's keyboard playing was really effective here (tho i know some
feel differently) - giving the whole thing a circus-on the edge of
calamity feel that built and built as the song went on. The verses kept
sputtering out of him and the band, and it seemed to go on forever, in a
good way, that is.... with the dark circus like gloom and foreboding
getting more intense as the song went on. It was around here that i
realized that bob has really learned to use this band more effectively
just lately.. 

7. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll 

a perfect rendition of a timeless tale, with the band providing the basic
pulse behind him, along with denny's jazzy interludes and embellishments.
Bob was dead serious, savoring every phrase but not hamming it up
either... and told the story straight and true.... 

8. High Water (For Charlie Patton) 
here's one of the all-time highlights of the show, this was a
rearrangement from prior versions I've heard. There's a mostly chromatic
descending line throughout the verses, along with some almost discordant
notes in there, which takes that "circus/carnival on the edge of disaster"
feel which started with 'levee's gonna break' and took it to the edge, and
let it stay there. Bob's weird organ playing added hugely to the mood ,
making this a bluegrass-mixed with electric miles davis mixed with a kind
of menacing 'benefit of mr kite' sound-- it was a sonic landscape of its
own, like some planet that's always been there but just discovered.
Someone in the audience was dancing to this with a huge smile on, but
listening to the music and lyrics it was anything but happy-- a stunning
and powerful version. There was a bit of a stop time moment in there,
which denny filled up with some wonderfully witty guitar playing,
inventive without being showy. 

9. Spirit On The Water 

even better performed then it was the night before. THe crowd was with bob
every step of the way, yelling "no!!!!" when bob came to that line about
'you think i'm over the hill?". This was another of those 'connnection
with 16,000 people looks easy if you do it right' moments. Again, great
solos from denny, who's really stepping it up the last few nights, or
maybe bob just lets him play more.. either way, he's the secret weapon and
a great one at that. 

10. Tangled Up In Blue 

right on the heels of connecting with a brand new song, comes a spirited,
rousing version of an older (tho not prehistorically old) classic. Since
bob stopped doing tangled every night a while back, he's done some nice
versions of this, but this was easily the beset version of the past year
or two of this that i've heard. If you want to quibble, the last verse was
perhaps a touch less strong then it could be, but that's a really minor
point. 

11. Blind Willie McTell 

The second huge highlight of a show filled with highlights. Bob and the
band got a bluesy, apocalypse-laden feeling out of this, and the vocals
were perfect. In stunning contrast to last night, where the ballads
(visions of joanna and shelter from the storm) were the defining moments,
tonight it was these mid-tempo unique pieces, blind willie and highwater,
which each have sounds all their own. 

12. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) 

another great song choice, with bob actually sounding like a not- so
distant echo of the 1966 voice at points- that same upper register, and
again (as with both tonight and last night) without resorting to upsinging
as a shortcut. 


13. When The Deal Goes Down 

beautiful version- tho bob was distracted at the beginning, seeming to
yell at stu (when will this change) in the middle of delivering the first
line of the song. The words here are really quite amazing, and in about 15
years i think we'll all realize how tightly constructed and ingenious, yet
full of genuine feeling, this song is. 

14. Highway 61 revisited 
a fine version, even better then last night, actually. not much more to be
said, tho... got the crowd on its feet. 

15. Blowin' In The Wind 

last night I wrote about last night's show and said : another huge
highlight for me.. great version of a career-defining song that should be
played alot more often. Hadn't seen him do it live in a few years. welcome
back, blowin'! like and old friend who still looks great. Nice up-tempo
arrangement that kept the anthemic quality without being schmaltzy, nice
50's twangy solo by denny, well done - well, that's equally true about
tonight. 

(encore) 
16. Thunder On The Mountain 
still not as great as it could be, tho better, slightly, then last night
perhaps. the vocal is a bit buried in all that sound. 

Band intros--- bob after introducing the band, said something to the
effect of 'great to be back here-- i remember being here, playing at six
in the morning, and it was pouring rain, too... a big field of mud!"--
going straight into the opening verse of : 

17. All Along The Watchtower 
- as i wrote last night, : very good version.. and there was one solo
break when it seemed that theband in particular were copying one of the
rhythm parts from the classic jimi hendrix version.. that little
off-center part that sounds delayed but isn't.... band quieted down nicely
when bob sang. (tonight that off-center part was less pronounced, perhaps,
but the song still worked wonderfully. 

That's it for me for this tour, - two fantastic shows, tho! 

[TOP]

Review by Larry Kosofsky



Great drive from New Paltz to Bethel via the back
roads, a perfect evening...through the Catskills, the
wreck that is Liberty, lush hills down from White
Sulphur Springs to Hurd Rd. and the Bethel Woods Arts
Center.

My first visit to this venue, and it is impressive.  A
natural amphitheater, gorgeous, well-planned.
Jimmy Vaughn and Mary Lou Barton did their blues band
thing effectively, and right on time Bob and the boys
were on, slamming out "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat", Bob
in good voice, as fine a version as I've heard.  

New dynamics on "The Times They Are A-Changin'" - all
that rehearsal time at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie 
showing with terse, effective solos, Tony stalking like 
a crane.

A bit of a letdown with "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" as
the band takes a while to find the groove, but they
do.

Fantastic vocals on "It's Alright, Ma" , arrangement
up a notch from previous live performances I've heard.

"Just Like a Woman" featuring excellent interplay,
fine vocals, marred only by a repetitious harmonica
solo.

Tight groove on "The Levee's Gonna Break" - close to
the recorded version, nice guitar solo by Denny, a
fierce and perfect rendition.
  
"Hattie Carroll" revamped, waltz time, vocals a
lyrical prose poem  - you need to hear this version -
organ solo by Bob; could almost be a lullaby! Band
vamps beautifully here.

"High Water" - serious vocals, tight groove, maybe 
a work still in progress.

"Spirit on the Water" Carried by the vocals, the band
is swinging...crowd shouting out "No, no" when Bob
sings, "You think I'm over the hill..."

"Tangled Up In Blue" reinvented yet again, sounding a
little more sinister with a new chord stuck in...
"Willie McTell" vocals spot-on, tight version with
nice guitar interplay, rivals the Campbell-Sexton
versions of 2000..."I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like
We Never Have Met)"  a nice, rockin' version ends with
a harmonica solo that veers from repetitive to
inspired.

"The Deal Goes Down" - a high point, excellent vocals,
fine guitar solo, just wonderful...then a very hot

"Highway 61" - a real crowd pleaser, band is cooking.
Totally revamped "Blowin' in the Wind" - it this 
12/8 time? Strange, but it works...

Encores: "Thunder on the Mountain" seems a bit too
fast, Bob losing the melody, but a nice rave up to the
ending..."Watchtower" quite fine, Bob introducing it
with "the last time we were here it was raining...
six o'clock in the morning..." vocals are terrific, as
they were all night, so if you have a chance, catch
these guys, because they have really started to
coalesce into a top-notch band.  They take chances, 
don't always hit the mark, but when they do, it will
knock your socks off.

Larry Kosofsky 

[TOP]

Review by Peter Stone Brown



Back in 1969, you couldn't get Bob Dylan anywhere near the Woodstock Music
& Arts Festival which was held in the little village of Bethel, some 60
miles from Woodstock, New York.  Hippies, pilgrims and vagrants were
climbing on his roof, so he moved his family to some hidden mountain on
the other side of Woodstock and then went as far away as he could get to
the Isle of Wight.  Unbeknownst to most there actually was a music
festival in the town of Woodstock that summer where a little known Irish
refugee named Van Morrison performed who moved into a house just down the
road from Dylan's but that's another story.

And so 38 years later Bob Dylan finally came to Bethel, to the Bethel
Woods Center for the Arts, a sort of impressive summer shed built on what
once was Yasgur's Farm, the site of Woodstock on some tiny country road. 
On the ride in we tried to figure out if the ponds were the ponds.  What
once were fields were now parking lots, lots of 'em and since we arrived
very close to show time, apparently the latecomers got to park closer to
the venue.  Still you had to walk endlessly to the venue toll gate and
then even further past souvenir stands and tons of food stands and lots
and lots of picnic benches before you even saw what appeared to be a
concert venue.  There was a long list of rules at the entrance and
troopers with big black German shepherds, but you were allowed to bring in
your own bottled water and even better, you could even keep the cap on,
which is something illegal in similar venues in the neighboring states of
Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

At 8:35 more or less Bob Dylan and his band took to the stage and launched
into a reasonably upbeat "Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat," that seemed a bit
more energized than the version played a couple of days before.  This was
followed by a delicately arranged "The Times They Are A-Changin'," and a
not bad, "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," leading up to a fiercely delivered
"It's Alright Ma," with Dylan nailing every line.  His voice was strong
but rough, resorting to an occasional growl, but at the same time his
singing was clear.

Dylan then moved to keyboard for a quickly intro'd "Just Like A Woman,"
with several audience members attempting to sing along on the chorus. 
Dylan typically and comically would either delay or rush his lines making
the sing along impossible.  He also left out the introduced as friends
line on the last verse, and then capped the song with a cool extended harp
solo.

They then jumped right into "The Levee's Gonna Break," with standout
instrumental work from guitarist Denny Freeman and Donnie Herron on
electric mandolin with Dylan putting particular emphasis on the key lines,
Everybody say that this is the day only the Lord could make;" "Some people
on the road carryin' everything that they own."   The performance was
relentless.

This was followed by a tightly arranged "Lonesome Death of Hattie
Carroll."  The band quietly played an intricate almost waltz figure, with
Stu Kimball's acoustic weaving out of tightly interlocked lines of
Herron's mandolin and Freeman's low volume electric, with Dylan's keyboard
riding underneath.  This allowed Dylan, his voice rough in contrast to
what was happening instrumentally to deliver a superbly effective and hard
hitting reading of the song, his contempt for the justice system clearly
intact.  The audience, at least where I was sat quietly throughout.

A wildly charged "High Water" changed the mood immediately.  With Donnie
Herron's jazz-grass banjo dancing in and out, and Tony Garnier's string
bass high in the mix, Dylan found some crazy rhythmic riff early in the
song, the entire band soon picked up on it taking the song to a new place.

A fairly flowing "Spirit on the Water," came next and was followed by
"Tangled Up In Blue," and then a near perfect "Blind Willie McTell" with
Herron on banjo.  Then came a nice surprise, a rearranged, moderately
rocking "I Don't Believe You."  This may have been Dylan's best vocal of
the night as the roughness in his voice seemed to evaporate and he let the
notes soar.

"When The Deal Goes Down" was the only time the concert seemed to lose
steam.  At the end of the first verse Dylan used his hand to count out the
waltz rhythm he wanted, the band fell in line, but the song, one of the
best on "Modern Times" wasn't as effective as it could have been.

"Highway 61" revived the energy and "Blowin' In The Wind" was far more
effective and meaningful than it was in Atlantic City.

At the end of "Thunder On The Mountain," Dylan (possibly for the first
time this tour) introduced the band, and then said something like, "It's
good to be back.  Last time we played here, it was in the mud and the rain
at six in the morning."  I thought it was hysterical myself and possibly
in reference to an article in a local paper the day before about local
residents bitching that he didn't play the original festival.  They then
went into a fine version of "All Along the Watchtower," which now resolves
on a major chord.

On the way out of the venue, the full moon was clouded over and a sudden,
chilly rainstorm erupted, and the temperature dropped several degrees.  It
lasted exactly as long as it took to reach the car, for the endless crawl
back to the main road.  Luckily at that main road we were headed for the
back mountain roads of Pennsylvania, and didn't have to join what appeared
to be an extremely long line of cars inching towards the New York State
Thruway.  

And so, almost four decades later Bob Dylan finally made it to the site of
Yasgur's farm.  I don't know whether he got back to the garden, but he
delivered the goods. 

[TOP]

Review by Howard Weiner



JOURNEY THROUGH THE MYSTIC GARDEN

Yesterday was a day only the Lord can make. I hopped on a
Trailways bus from the greatest metropolis on my way to the place
of my old school, New Paltz, New York. I met up with two brothers
who were raised on the music of Bob Dylan in the real town of
Woodstock. We drove through picturesque Sullivan County, stopping
along the way to take in the silence of the Roundout Reservoir
which was surrounded by neatly groomed towering light green pines
basking in the glow of the setting sun under blue skies with
cotton candy clouds hovering above. We had to pull ourselves away,
because a rendezvous with musical history awaited us in Behtel,
sight of Woodstock í69. This venue they recently built there does
justice to the historical significance of the site. Everything
from the placeís aesthetics to the audio was golden. Dylan was the
most significant artist not to show at the original festival. It
wasnít his scene and he wasnít half the performer he is now in the
year 2007.

I was in the thick of the action sporting my Sly & Family Stone
t-shirt in the second row of section 1 seat 7. I wondered if Bob was
in a similar position when he saw Buddy Holly at the Duluth National
Armory. Iíd been hoping for a shake up in the predictable openings
of this tour, and one was delivered with Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat
and The Times They Are A-Changiní combining to create an exotic
commencement to the ceremony . The band and Dylan were clicking as
they worked their way into a delightful Iíll Be Your Baby Tonight.
Itís Alright Ma really resonated with me for the first time in
awhile, and capped off the portion of the show featuring Dylan on
guitar. The sound and performances were stellar, though Bob didnít
look warmed up until he made his way to his beloved keyboards. That
opening segment would have worked for Dylan had he decided to take
part in Woodstock í69. Based on Bobís Isle of Wright appearance, Iím
glad he skipped Woodstock. I like that
performance, but due to inactivity, Bob wasnít performing on Jimi or
Slyís level at that time. 

Another 60ís anthem, Just Like a Woman, was a nice selection in the
fifth spot. Surprisingly, the crowd up front was pretty subdued.
There was a tremendous lawn presence Ė lotís of folks came out for
the maestro on this Saturday night. The ending instrumental of
Woman was a beautiful tag-team display. Denny uncorked a poetic
melody during his lead guitar solo that was chased by the sounds
emanating from the fiery breath Dylan exhaled into his harmonica.

NOTHING BUT THE BLUES

A tight remake of Memphis Minnieís 1927 classic When the Levee Breaks
kicked off a new phase of this amazing performance. The next sequence
of songs could be used as a soundtrack to the history of America and
the blues prior to Woodstock 1969. The inspired selections continued
with the most clever of Dylanís protest songs, The Lonesome death of
Hattie Carroll. It was a haunting presentation, but not as potent as
acoustic versions. All of this was overwhelming; I was still trying to
settle in. I was second row, staring down the leader of a Cowboy Band,
40 plus years after he was anointed the spokesman of his generation, at
the site of that generationís most cherished musical shrine.  

The band got down to the nitty-gritty during High Water. Led by
Donnie on the banjo, this version was the most satisfying one Iíve
seen in awhile. Last tour it seemed long-winded and at the Borgata
2007 the instrumentals were too concise. This song is a motion
picture waiting to happen.  Spirit on the Water was next and to my
surprise it was enjoyable. Dylan made sure this version had some
pop to it as he motioned for Riceli to pick up the beat. Freeman
added his trademark jazzy leads as Dylan growled out the vocals. I
observed Bob was thoroughly enjoying himself, so how could I do
anything less. If he keeps playing it like this, Iíll have to drop
my grievance with this waltz. The momentum continued to soar with a
gripping Tangled up in Blue. Once again, I found a lot to like
about Freemanís playing on the solos. He plays a lot of low notes
and takes untraditional routes in his jams. Perhaps thatís why some
Dylan fans are critical of him. Dylan was obviously pleased
with his playing while he was plucking out ring tones on his keys. Sweet
Jesus, I really loved my up close and personal vantage point. 

The Cowboy Band had IT going on, I didnít care what was next, enter
Blind Willie Mc Tell. It was a moment of pure bliss as Dylan
somehow raised the bar even higher. With the escalating force of
this performance, this immense spiritual was saved for exactly the
right show of the tour in exactly the right song slot. Much like
last weekís Sabbath concert at the Borgata, this was a religious
experience. I was never this close to Dylan for Blind Willie. I
found myself jumping out of my sneakers on several occasions. This
could have been Dylanís finest live vocal on a Mc Tell.  Dylan sent
sparks flying as he was twisting like a corkscrew behind his keys.
There was an incredible connection and feel for this song in the
bandís circle. They were like the Harlem Globetrotters on their
best day. Dylan was the preacher, they were tapping into something
deep Ė channeling the spirits of  Blind Willie, Robert Johnson and
Charley Patton. It was a happening, and I was so close I felt
like I was part of their circle. Every cent Iíve spent on travel,
tickets, hotel etcÖwas so worth this one performance. Ditto the Nettie
Moore from 6-23-07. Who else has ever done anything like this? Dylan is
better than ever. 

And there was more! After traveling from 2006 to 1974 to 1983, it
was time to revisit 1966. ďIt use to go like that, now it goes like
this,Ē Dylan said in Manchester 1966, before slamming into a wild
electric I Donít Believe You. Well here we were in Woodstock 2007,
and Dylan was still playing in this in an uncompromisingly brazing
manner. Riding the greasy trail left behind from Blind Willie, it
was another song choice that worked beautifully. At this point Bob
had to release some tension, so he rendered a soothing When the
Deal Goes Down. It was my first one of the tour and it really hit
the spot as the midnight rain followed the train.

I had two concerns before tonight. The lack of set list creativity I
had perceived was obliterated on this night. And it appeared the
Cowboy Band was appropriated room to jam as was evidenced by the
following Highway 61 Revisited. The band effortlessly improvised
like they were spinning and passing the ball in a Harlem
Globetrotter circle. It was concise and explosive. For good measure,
Bob satisfied our souls with the ceremonial conclusion to the set,
Blowiní in the Wind, before disappearing into the darkness.

The thunderous introduction of Modern Times shook loose the
neon-blue Bob Dylan logo banner from the rafters. We were off and
chasing the lovely Alicia Keys through Tennessee. After scrambling
through American landscape in a wild romp, we were introduced to
the strangest Cowboy Band in the land. I canít recall exactly what
Bob said next, but it was something to the effect of how it was
nice to be back, and the last time this song was played here was in
1969 at 6 in the morning with people rolling around in the mud.
Groovy, letís invoke the spirit of Jimmy Hendrix as well - sparks
flew during a rocking All Along the Watchtower finale.

As we filed out, the winds howled and the heavens opened for a
pounding rain. These big drops fell from the sky, but I didnít get
all that wet. It was a cooling enjoyable storm, not the soaking
kind that would send you running for cover. It was just a little
more magic to ponder over as we left the mystic garden. The
midnight rain really does follow the train. We got back to the car,
opened up some Coronas and a bag of almonds and thoroughly 
enjoyed sitting in a one lane traffic jam for an hour. I donít think 
anyone who left the í69 Festival was as content as I was inching
my way down that lonesome road. Iíll be flying high till I see the 
Cowboy Band again on Independence Day in Montreal. 

[TOP]

Review by Steve Goldberg



Went to Bethel last night.  What a difference a day makes! 
Instead of a half empty shed at Jones Beach, Bethel was
packed. The  set list was much better paced. Hattie Carrol, 
while slow, was mesmerizing, with  Dylan more reciting the 
lyrics than singing them.  While I have never cared for 
When The Deal Goes Down or Spirit On The Water live, 
both were great, with  Dylan's calliope like organ dominating
the sound. High Water and Willie McTell  were both first rate.
I Don't Believe You was straight out of 1966. And with Dylan
lying about playing the site before, in the rain and in the mud,
it was a  complete 180 from the night before. Now if the 
venue could only figure out how  to empty out the parking 
lots in less than an  hour......

[TOP]

Review by Don Ely



Has there ever been an event in rock 'n' roll as iconic as the Woodstock 
Music and Arts Fair? Quite possibly, but Woodstock is the one that would 
merit it's own postage stamp! How perfect, then, that the Bethel Woods 
Center for the Arts be built on this rock 'n' roll holy ground for succeeding 
generations to revel in the music ( but keep their clothes on ). I visited 
this site in 2005 on the way to Dylan's gig in Norwich, Connecticut. At 
that time I was horrified to hear earth movers and other heavy 
construction equipment laying waste to what was once the pristine 
Yasgur's farm. I thought, " #%@&**+!! They're buildin' ^*&#%$ 
condos!", and names like Woodstock Lake Estates and Jefferson Airplane 
Hills bounced around my skull. But alas, things do turn out alright once 
every so often and today we are left with this very attractive and 
meaningful summer theater. To see a band, let alone Our Man Bob on 
this very spot was fortune too good to let pass by.
†
Set in Sullivan County at the base of the Catskills, the area is definitely 
rural, with the town of Bethel being really no town at all, and nearby 
White Lake not much bigger. The site is located off Route 17B where 
Hurd and West Shore Roads meet, and access is only by one country 
road or another. So the state police fed traffic down Happy Road, and 
there we waited until making the turn on to West Shore where we 
waited more. We crawled past a farm and old houses that were witness 
to the throngs of young humanity during the festival of legend, and 
natural ponds that musta been the scene of much skinny - dippin' back 
in '69. We could hear Jimmie Vaughan go on precisely at 7:30, and when 
his set was ready to wrap up we were finally inside the venue. The 
complex is nicely landscaped, retaining the easy - on - the - eyes scenery 
without too much obtrusive commercialism. Bethel Woods is largely 
staffed by local neighbors; an usher would greet a patron she knew from 
down the road. A variety of foods were offered, vegetarian and Asian 
fare in addition to the burgers and dogs. And yes, they did serve beer, 
and took their sweet time doin' it. Bob's been following Jimmie very 
quickly, so I was still in the beer line when he and the band kicked off 
with a rockin' "Leopard - skin Pill - box Hat". It's such a relief to hear 
something like this as opposed†to the standard "Cat's" or "Maggie's", and 
I think Bob should rotate the first song more often. Though it goes back 
to 1996 shows, " Crash On The Levee ( Down In The Flood ) " has always 
been a favorite of mine. "The Times They Are A - Changin'", an iconic
song for an iconic location, came second. Bob continued having fun with 
his†guitar on a solid "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" and the next song before 
dancin' over to his keyboard where the group dove into " Just Like A 
Woman ". This wasn't the singalong version, but I did hear some happy 
folks joining in on the chorus.
†
Tonight I got two songs I hadn't heard†previously, both Modern Times 
numbers: "The Levee's Gonna Break", not played quite as frequently as 
the others, and "When The Deal Goes Down". I liked 'em both, but like 
"Rollin' and Tumblin'" I feel the " Levee " album version to be superior. 
"Deal Goes Down", on the other hand, is one of my lesser favorites†from 
Modern Times; performed live the song picks up some backbone and is 
most enjoyable. "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll" was a welcome 
sound to my ears, and the guy next to me was thrilled at the inclusion of 
"High Water ( for Charley Patton )". A barnburnin' "Highway 61 
Revisited" is always a crowd - pleaser, as is "Tangled Up In Blue", though 
I prefer the straight acoustic guitar intro on the latter. "Blowin' In The 
Wind" has been reinvented in a new full - band arrangement, and I really 
dug ( 1960's hippie vernacular ) those I saw both here and at Jones 
Beach. Never thought I'd say that, as I felt the knock - 'em - dead 
harmonies of the Larry & Charlie era graced the versions to end all versions. 
During the band intros Bob had some fun with the crowd when he started 
talking about how when he played here last it was muddy and " it was 
rrrrrainin'! " As all Bobchronologists know, Bob didn't play Woodstock, 
opting instead to perform at Isle of Wight later that same month of 
August 1969! Don't let 'im fool ya, kids.....and the funny thing was, not 
long after he said it, the wind kicked up and it started rrrrrrainin'! It put a 
smile on my face and brought to a close another evening of great music 
here in the heartland....wherever that may be. Next stop Vermont. 
All'booaarrrd!!

Don Ely
Rochester, MI
kingsnake78@hotmail.com†

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