Big Flats, New York

Tag's Summer Stage

September 1, 2012

[Rich LaVere], [Mo Ritz], [Boosingh], [Joshua Seese]

Review by Rich LaVere

Watching the River Flow: Great blues romp, fantastic way to open the show.
Dylan's most recent work is full of blues shuffles, and this one fits him
like a glove.

To Ramona: In what quickly becomes a tre
nd, Dylan and his band re-work this to the point that it's almost
unrecognizable; still fantastic, but after years of listening to the solo
acoustic version, it throw you off to hear it with the full band.

Things Have Changed: One of my absolute favorites from Dylan's recent
(meaning the last decade and a half) work. Dylan looks like he's having a
great time.

Tangled Up In Blue: To me, this is the Bob National Anthem. My favorite
track from my favorite Dylan album, and once again reworked to the point
that it sounds almost optimistic. An absolute revelation. Wow.

Rolling' and Tumblin': Bob the bluesman returns. This band is HOT.

Every Grain of Sand: At this point, the guy sitting next to me turns and
says, "Do you know this song?" Yeah, I of Dylan's best from his
Christian years, again reworked as a blues shuffle, with some of Dylan's
best writing from that time" I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry
flame//And every time I pass that way I always hear my name". An
unexpected highlight of the night for me, anyway.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedledum: I never thought this song had a lot of depth,
but the interplay of the band is great here, and Dylan seems to be clearly
enjoying himself. Nice.

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll: OK, the sound here is great, and
since I'm siting near the sound board, I know I'm getting the best mix
possible. But this is a story song, and I'm finding myself more engrossed
in the music than the words. Sometimes, that's just necessary (this is
Dylan after all), but...

Summer Days: Another of Dylan's more recent works; a laid-back track that
I could just get lost in. Perfect for this cool September night at the end
of summer.

Visions of Johanna: I'm looking at the set list and shocked to see this
was played. I didn't even recognize it. I guess that's a tribute to
Dylan's propensity to constantly reinvent himself and his own work, but I
feel like a bad fan. :-(

Highway 61 Revisited: Wow. Dylan may be 71, but he can outperform kids a
third his age. This song rocks, plain and simple, and despite having
performed it a jazillion times, it sounds as fresh as ever; maybe better.

Spirit On The Water: Another track from "Modern Times", which is very
well-represented in this concert. A perfect follow up to the current
incarnation of "Highway 61" and it fits Dylan's aging bluesman's voice
like a glove. Loved it.

Ballad of a Thin Man: I really wasn't expecting to hear this one, so it's
a joy to hear Dylan growl "Something is happening here, but you don't know
what it is, do you Mr. Jones?" Sing it loud, and sing it proud, Rich.
Don't worry about the people around you. :-) One of the best lines Dylan
ever wrote. A real highlight for me.

Like A Rolling Stone: Everyone in the crowd is clearly trying to sing
along to "How does it FEEEEEEEEEL," but Bob isn't cooperating, insisting
on re-interpreting the line in his now-signature clipped growl. It doesn't
matter. The crowd carries it along anyway. I think Bob is in on the joke.
The Hammond Organ gospel feel is gone, but the soul of this song remains.

Dylan takes a short break to introduce the band (his only direct
interaction with the crowd all night), and then goes into:

All Along The Watchtower: "Bobfest" reaches its climax! Everything comes
together here; the band, Dylan and the crowd are COOKING WITH GAS, BABY.


Blowin' In The Wind: Honestly, I never thought I'd get to see Dylan
perform this. Every bit as relevant as the day it was written, Bob and the
band somehow once again manage to make it musically relevant with a new
arrangement that sticks with me for a good half hour after I leave the

Final thoughts: During the show, the guy next to me (who traveled from
Buffalo to get here) commented that Dylan must be doing a lot of stuff
from his new material. Not so much, really; he's just doing what he's
always done...his own thing. Dylan's never been one to sit still and rest
on the laurels of his past, nor does he attempt to catch the latest trend
train and ride it into obscurity. The reason I admire and respect people
like Dylan and Neil Young is that they are true to themselves, trends be
damned. Dylan has clearly found a home in the best Blues tradition he's
always been a part of, and he played with a joy and optimism that was both
refreshing and surprising given his reputation as a brooding artist. In
the words of Neil, long may he run.


Review by Mo Ritz

From Barolo to Big Flats
Back in July while traveling throughout Italy we wandered up to Barolo to
catch Bob and his cowboy band headlining the Collisioni Festival. It was
our first time seeing the band in Italy!  It was a beautiful summer
evening, standing on the cobblestone piazza Colbert watching the band with
the Barolo castle as their back drop.  Immediate noticing of some changes:
 the intro GONE! No decades biography, no circus music.  A baby grand
piano in front of Donnie, and George angled and tucked in the corner.  Bob
was decked out and debonair in some new duds; cream colored slacks, navy
blue jacket, white hat along with some neatly trimmed facial
hair...looking good!  The logo back drop never showed up, security...what
security?  It was a relaxing atmosphere and the boys were spot on and
Bob's voice was in good form, a few garbled  phrases, but for the most
part clear, the sound was good no matter where you positioned yourself in
the piazza.  The setlist held not one surprise, the usual songs with new
arrangements, however, if you go to enough of these shows or listen to the
boots, one can easily recognize the song. It was a beautiful night and a
good show that ranks in my top five. 

Back in the U.S.A. The Trip: 
I've never been to Big Flats before. In fact I'd never been to Barolo before. 
I hadn't been in this neck of the woods since, well, I guess it would have
to be the early or mid 90's.  I was taking a summer English Lit. Elective:
 Mark Twain something or other.  The Prof gave us a choice on the final : 
review a book or head to Elmira and take in a show on the life and works
of Mark Twain and write a review.  Sounded like a date night to me.  But I
digress. Breakups are so "sucker punch to the gut, knock the wind out of
your sails" life changing.  So helping to get our friend James sailing
again what better medicine than an evening with Bob and his cowboy band,
plus I 've been trying to bring some of my peeps ( that have never been )
out to a Dylan show.   Not a one of them has come away disappointed! We
headed to the show from Syracuse about a two hour drive through lovely NY
summertime country.  Arriving in the afternoon so we could head over to
Woodlawn  cemetery and pay our respects to  the late great Ernie "the
express" Davis and  Samuel Clemens.  Found a little Italian trattoria that
smelled like Italy and grabbed some grub then headed to Big Flats about
9.6 miles away from our hotel. The Venue:  Tag's Summer Stage, I'd never
heard of it before. .. Will keep an Eye out for future summer shows.  This
place is laid back, countryish, sweet gem of a venue that from
conversations in the crowd has morphed from a simple backyard BBQ sort of
a place ( where a slice was .75 & a coke .35) into a "on the map" out door
venue where Bob Dylan plays. There is no amphitheater, just some white
"syroco" style lawn chairs roped/fenced off and a "flat" lawn area for GA
seating.  Think fielddays  or county fair without the amusement rides. 
Rustic out buildings serving as the bar and food service and you purchase
drink and food tickets, except in the VIP section (cash no ticket needed
and waitress service) nice touch.  I like the simplicity and laid back
country friendliness of this venue. As a gentlemen in the seat behind me
mentioned " it's like a party in your back yard and Bob Dylan stopped in
to play" and it was. 

The Show: 
I am not going to do a play by play of each song I'll leave that to
someone better qualified.  
I suppose it was promptly at 8 pm ( i don' t wear a watch) when Stu walked
out followed by the rest of the band.  Immediately I knew there wasn't
going to be LSPBH and thank you for that...perhaps Bob had spent the day
lounging on the banks of the Chemung River or the Sing Sing creek....cause
the opener was Watching The River Flow with Bob at the keyboard .  This
was followed up by the "what will he pull out of his hat tonight slot" To
Romona was what we got tonight...but no one was crying from what I could
see and Bob wasn't wearing a hat. Nice. The only song that came off a
little "off" was TUIB.  As Bob changed up the tempo and key the band took
a minute to catch up .  But it was all good in the end.  
Bob played the guitar, (more than once), banged out some great, jazzy,
bluesy, saloon,  piano, blew out some classic harmonica, and was playful
and made the audience laugh.  Enough can not be said about this band as
they are truly in the gifted and talented category.  However, now that a
baby grand has been added to the mix ( a nice addition, that I hope will
stay awhile) the drum kit is tucked off to the corner, with Tony
positioned to the right, Stu and Charlie out front, and Donnie (where is
Donnie?) unless he stands up you can't see him, only hear him.  Maybe Bob
will move him and angle him a little more to the right so you can see
them all playing together.  That would be nice!  The sound was great and
Bob's voice was in good form.

Odds & Ends:
My company thought this was a great, great show and enjoyed Bob's
enthusiasm and playfulness with the crowd, but couldn't say for sure if it
was real or forced.  But, it was for me, an evening that found me relaxed,
happy and smiling as summer fades to Autumn.  As I said to my friend
James,  " I don't own all of Bob's records,  & I 'm not a walking
encyclopedia on Bob.  But, when I was a kid driving in the car with my
dad, Mr. Tambourine Man came on the radio (I don't know if it was Dylan or
the Byrds) and my dad and I sang along and later on he bought me a toy
tambourine.  Years later, ( a young teenager) on the day he died, I was in
my room with my transistor radio and Mr. Tambourine Man came on (Dylan
singing & playing) It was Bob's voice that brought me calm.  Ever since
then happy or sad, Bob Dylan has been my "go to"music; it's the
voice...still. James left smiling. We all get by with a little help from
our friends. Overall I rate this show 0n a scale of 1-10 10 being tops, an
8.5 I'd give it more if I could have seen Donnie other than when he stood
up & I miss the introduction music that calls the crowd to their seats (on
time) and gives you the feeling your about to witness one of the finest
bands in the world. I don't miss the biography just the circus style intro
music. Oh and the hats Back On ( as it is time to take leave) for the last
encore song, Blowin In The Wind!  We're letting the wind blow us down Rt
17 to Bethelwoods, and then hope to catch one of the Autumn shows.  Just
Curious: How come all the fall shows are 4 hours away and no Saturday
night shows (going to take a bit of finagling to go)? How come you haven't
played Syracuse since the summer of 2009...what's up with  that? Thanks
for the good times in both Barolo & Big Flats!!!


Review by Boosingh

This was a strange venue. It's a field with a very professional stage
attached to restaurant/bar called Tags. Reserved seating was rows of
plastic lawn chairs in front of the stage. The same chairs were there for
the taking for the general admission area. Both areas were in the same
grassy field surrounded by a wooden fence. You had to show ID with your
ticket to get in SOS you could buy beer. No ID got you an "X" on your hand
with a black magic marker that you can proudly wear for days. Show wasn't
sold out but ancient size crowd given that Big Flats really is in the
middle of nowhere. Now for the highlights. Great TUIB, the new arrangement
a vast improvement, no staccato singing this time around. Bob on guitar
playing bluesy lead that was at times spot on and at times bizarre. To sit
in a fireball field, under a full moon and listen to Bob play Every Grain
Of Sand at the piano was a treat Not to be forgotten. Sang it true, no
messing around for this one. Next highlight for me was Visions Of Johanna.
This was probably the closest arrangement to the original I have heard in
years. Again no staccato singing, no chanting, no sing song, just straight
vocals. Spirit on the Water and Hattie were crowd favorites. Twiddle Dee
Dee, believe it or not was the best uptempo number. George has finally got
the drum part down pat and the band cooked. Al the other uptempo numbers
sort of sound the same, with Bob,s piano a lot like his guitar playing,
loud in the mix, at times oddly out of synch and at times great. Blowin'
closed the show. A nice country arrangement. Off to Bethel, the scene of
the crime and the center of the universe.


Review by Joshua Seese

I will review Bob Dylan’s set list for this show with 
rants and raves:)

1.Watching The River Flow- Solid performance as opener. 
Perfect interweaving blend of vocals and instrumentation 
to set the ship a-sail.  Bob on guitar.

2.To Ramona-Complex melodies weave.  Bob’s comforting 
reassurance to Ramona.  A rarity that has emerged from its 
shell to reach full bloom.  Bob on guitar.

3.Things Have Changed- Very strong and procured version. 
Bob on guitar is just what the song calls for.  Verses 
come out charismatic.

4.Tangled up in Blue- Bob was on fire with this one, 
teaming his guitar with pleading vocals.

5.Rollin’ and Tumblin’-Refreshing arrangement.  Given a 
supreme amount of clarity.  Feels like a song of déjà vu. 
Bob just manages to get “traveling on” before it all gets 

6.Every Grain of Sand-A first for me that had its standout 
moments of tenderness and emotional release.

7.Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee-Best live version I have ever 
heard!  Bob is brilliant at coloring in visions. 
Wonderful character sketches.
8.The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll-Best live version I 
ever heard! Differs from the original version but adds a 
high level of intimacy in the storyteller’s point of view 
for sympathy with the victim.

9.Summer Days-A toast to the end of summer days.  When Bob 
sings this song it is brought to life with the thought of 
eternal summer that only he, the ringleader, can project 
into our minds.

10.Visions of Johanna- Crowd was really into this one. 
Plays well to the studio version.  One of my favorites.
11.Highway 61 Revisited-Excellent as always.  He’s really 
playing this one for all it’s worth and then some.

12.Spirit on the Water-Amazing! New arrangement settles in 
comfortably with surrounding songs.  A meandering, yet 
powerful declaration of love.

13.Thunder On The Mountain- Full of the studio 

14.Ballad of a Thin Man- Lights down low, spotlight on 
Dylan.  Calculated and harrowing performance.

15.Like A Rolling Stone- A trademark song that gets you 
feeling at home, it's irresistible to try not to sing 
along with.

16.All Along the Watchtower- intriguing in its 
presentation, a driving force to bring the show homeward.

17.Blowin’ in the Wind- Dylan reminding the audience about 
human truths.  Brilliant.

Overall, a great Dylan show to compliment my first trip to 
New York.  It was a great venue.  The sound was terrific. 
The evening was historical.  Something great was blowin’ 
in the wind!


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