Santa Rosa, California
Grace Pavilion
April 4, 2006

[Robert Kustel], [Mitch Meyer], [Colin Selig], [Terry Way], [Mark Solomonson], [Peter Wiley]

Review by Robert Kustel

So Karen and I braved the rainy weather on Tuesday night -- I think the
current count is rain on 30 out of the last 32 days, no joke, a record in
these parts -- and journeyed 30 miles north to Santa Rosa.  We dashed
through the rain and remembered seeing Bob in Hershey, Pennsylvania, in
1994.  An unbelievable rain that evening drenched the outdoor crowd, but
it was one of those humid, tropical, east coast summer rains.  The kind of
rain where you don't even care if you get wet, and we eventually quit
trying to stay dry.  It was beyond torrential, that's for sure.  Anyway,
halfway through the show Bob huddled with his band -- Bob never huddles
with his band, so what is this? -- then broke into "Hard Rain" -- a seldom
played gem that stunned the soaked audience.

So this was show number 25 for me, 19 for Karen.

The venue was the Grace Pavilion at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.  It's a
different landscape up there -- to give you a feel parking was $5.  There
was no security -- we handed our ticket to a long-hair and waltzed on in. 
If you wanted dinner your choice was either a jumbo dog or a regular dog.

The Grace Pavilion belied its name -- maybe "A
Tin-Roofed-Airplane-Hangar-suitable-for-Pig (Circuses)" would have been
more appropriate.  I wonder when the last time Bob played inside with a
temperature lower than his age -- he'll be 65 next month.  We kept our
warm coats on the whole time and wished we'd dressed warmer.  The show was
General Admission.  I hate GA -- too much of an advantage for people who
get there early and have the ability to stand on concrete for four hours
-- neither of which are my strong suit.  We sat on some aluminum bleachers
in the very back.  This turned out to be kind of a blessing as the sound
mix was excellent.

Bob came out at 8:10, wearing a black bandalero suit with red piping, a
blousy red polka dot shirt, and his black bandalero hat.  He looked good
-- a little gaunt but not frail.  He spent the entire night at the
keyboards -- evidently his arthritis limits his guitar playing.  Unlike
his last shows at the Paramount, he was more upright and did not appear to
be trying to read lyrics from any cheat sheets.  I'd say he danced.  In
between songs he'd kind of saunter aimlessly around the back -- near the
Oscar he won for "Things Have Changed" -- before stepping back to the
keyboard.  He also played the harmonica quite a bit, which is always a
treat for me.

Not surprisingly, Bob has re-arranged his songs once again.  He opened
with a ballad-like version of Maggie's Farm,  and the sound mix was the
best I've heard in some while.  Too often all the noise is jumbled up --
last night Bob's microphone was turned way up and you could hear every
word.  His voice was outstanding -- not too much growling, and plenty of
articulation.  His singing was also excellent --he's mostly dropped that
up-sing at the end of every line, which I found tiresome over time.  

The 4400 people in the sold out Pavilion were mostly gray hairs with a
healthy mix of teens.  Near the end of the show, as we stood and listened
to "Like a Rolling Stone" some guy over my shoulder kept yelling "Bobby! 
Bobby!"  I looked back and was kind of surprised -- and happy for some
reason -- to see a fourteen year old hollering at Dylan.

The set list was fine -- no surprises.  High Water was a highlight for me
-- not normally one of my favorite songs but the banjo and overall
arrangement was beautiful.  Queen Jane was heartfelt, so was Spanish
Boots.   In the song "Lonesome Day Blues" Bob substituted a line: "Makes
me glad I'm alive" for "I wish my mother was still alive."   Call Freud.

I don't know about this band.  I think I now realize that Larry Campbell
(the former guitar/mandolin player with the long hair on the right) and
Charlie Sexton (the heart-throb on the left) were sizzling guitarists who
stepped up and rocked.  These guys (Stu Kimball and  Denny Harron) hardly
kick it in and spend most of the time watching Bob, as if they were afraid
to miss a turn.  There doesn't seem to be much joy, either  -- Charlie and
Larry would always be smiling at Tony, or whatever, and seemed to have a
good time.  Who knows, maybe it's just Bob wanting a different sound --
less garage-rock and more R&B.  They played with more confidence then last
year's Paramount shows, I'll give them that.

This guy Donnie Herron on pedal, violin, and banjo seems to have been
elevated in the band.  His sound is turned up and Bob seemed to be giving
the cues to him.  I can't tell if George Recile is a good drummer or not,
and my favorite thing about the bass player is the way Bob introduces him
-- "Tony Gahr-nya."  He's been introducing Tony Garnier on Bass for 20
years now.

We skipped "Watchtower" to try and get around back and catch Bob getting
on his bus.  No luck -- the bus was in a secure area.  Our luck turned out
to be great, however -- the five minutes ended up saving us hours because
we were about the last car to get through a flooded Highway 101.  The rest
of the poor souls were diverted through God-Knows-where.

Robert Kustel


Review by Mitch Meyer

The whole setting at the Santa Rosa show was special.  It had to be one of
the best settings imaginable for a Dylan show, and he and the band rose to
the occasion with a great performance.  While Stockton the night before
was very good, the whole experience last night was magical.

Stockton is in the Central Valley, which is mainly agricultural, Bible
Belt, and conservative.  The hall was a brand new, generic sports arena
downtown, with no particular character.  Everyone had to stop and spread
their arms for a pat down search as they entered.  It all felt a bit too
much like America in 2006.  There was a lot of tension in the crowd
because everyone in the first 25 rows or so on the floor stood up from
their folding chairs as soon as the show started, but there were various
people around who didn't want to stand and were loudly complaining during
the show.  Occasionally, an usher would tell people near the aisle to sit
down, but everyone refused because the people in front of them were still
standing.  The people who wanted to sit then got angrier.  It was all not
very conducive to focusing in on the performance.  Dylan was intense and
focused as usual.  I had to admire his guts and integrity to re-work "She
Belongs to Me" so radically, with the bizarre melodic innovation of
singing the last note of each verse real high, and then bringing it down
to a baritone.  All on the same note! I don't think I've ever heard anyone
sing like that, and with his less than stellar voice, it was truly
jarring.  But I admired his guts to do it because he wanted to give it a
try.  The bleachers were mainly full but almost everyone was sitting still
throughout the show.  You didn't get the feeling that many people in the
seats were real intense Dylan fans.  It seemed more like a matter of
taking in a show by a famous name at the brand new arena here in our small
city.  All in all, Stockton was a good show, but there was not much
electricity in the air.  Dylan and the band seemed to be a real work in
progress with lots of moments that didn't jell among some that did.

Santa Rosa was a very different scene.  It went to the opposite extreme of
having virtually no seats in a plain airplane hanger-type building.  It
was like a college field house, just a simple rounded roof going straight
back, just a purely functional, basic space.  This meant that everyone had
to stand.  No disputes or arguments.  I was about 10 rows back from the
stage in front of Dylan.  There was no security to speak of and people
could do as they pleased.  And Santa Rosa is another world culturally from
Stockton: in the heart of Grateful Dead, yoga, organic, wine country, and
way to the left of the mainstream Democratic Party.  The crowd looked
totally hip and was obviously full of fans who know and revere Dylan's
work.  (How many more scenes like this still exist in America, and what
about 10 years from now if things keep going the way they're going?)  From
the beginning, the difference in atmosphere showed.  The audience was
moving and rocking from the first note and the group had to sense the
energy.  As the concert progressed, the band seemed to get tighter and
they started feeling that they were hitting their stride.  Every song
clicked.  Donny Herron, standing right behind Dylan on pedal steel and
watching his every move, started to smile as he played with a look like,
"This is starting to really come together now."  Denny Freeman was more
consistently on target with his solos than the night before.

Highlights for me were "Lonesome Day Blues," "It's Alright, Ma," "Till I
Fell in Love with You" (great swampy blues vibe), "Boots of Spanish
Leather," and a beautiful and heartfelt "Don't Think Twice."  "High
Water," with the driving banjo is always a killer and I was even able to
get into LARS this time, with Stu burning on his first solos of the night
after being relegated to a rather tame rhythm guitar the rest of the show.
 The most intriguing Dylan moment was on the very last notes of the main
set, as they were finishing "Summer Days."  All night long, Dylan, as
usual, was totally emotionless, sauntering around coolly between each
song, but with no change of expression.  As that last song of the main set
wound to a close, Dylan looked over at George and suddenly burst into
total laughter . which lasted for about two seconds and then he resumed
his emotionless expression as he turned and walked off the stage before
the encores.  Was this a response to something that George did as the song
ended, or was Dylan not able to contain his joy any longer about the
performance?  We'll never know, but he's always one intriguing guy to
watch up close.

It felt like everyone left the building feeling like they had just seen an
awesome and explosive performance.  I would rank the impact higher than
any of the three Oakland shows last year or two of the three Bay Area
shows in 2004 (the UC-Berkeley show that year also reached great heights
with a terrific perormance by Dylan and a superb set list).  This group is
able to jell and reach more powerful levels than I had previously

Mitch Meyer


Review by Colin Selig

Tonight's performance in Santa Rosa was one of the best Bob has given us in northern 
California in recent years.  It was an inspirational event, up there with San Jose in '98 
and the Santa Cruz shows in '00.  This show was cracking right from the opening notes 
of 'Maggie's Farm,' with each song significantly improved from the previous night's 
performance in Stockton.  This band is solitifying well.  If you want to know what's 
going on musically I recommend reading James Strohecker's review of the Reno show.  
Thankfully Bob is encouraging both Denny and Donnie to step out, and each are making 
terrific contributions to the sound.  Great banjo on 'Highwater.'  There were so many 
highlights.  We got absolutely captivating beautiful versions of 'Don't Think Twice, It's 
All Right' and 'Boots of Spanish Leather.'  The ballads are so sweet.  Bob sounds rested.  
Lyrics are clear and he's delivering each line like he means it.  If you have tickets to this 
tour you are in for a treat.  Safe travels Bob.  I miss you already.

Colin Selig


Review by Terry Way

A Rainy Night In Rosa

Coming out of the rain and walking into the The Grace Pavillion I felt
like we were entering an airplane hanger. This was one large rectangular
Quonset building that was nicely packed, standing room only with eager
fans. Sliding into position somewhere in the center quarter of the floor,
it wasn't long before the familiar introduction began. From the opening
lines of Maggie's Farm, it was obvious the sound was going to be very
nice. Bob's vocals were clear and up front. The mix on the rest of the
band was great as well. Bob's new organ sound used throughout the show had
qualities that reminded my ears of Levon Helm from the Basement Tapes
sessions to Ray Manzarek of the Doors at times. Other times he sounded
more like a drunken organ grinder playing background riffs to a circus
sideshow.  The stage and curtains were elegantly lit and made for a visual
treat. The band sounded tight and relaxed and Bob seemed quite content.
High Water was a show highlight and I got chicken skin thinking of this
being played in post Katrina New Orleans. It will be fun to watch this
Tour develop. Cheers!

T. Way
Santa Cruz


Comments by Mark Solomonson

The fairgrounds was a great place to be able to see Dylan, funky, not too big,
easy to get in at 7pm and go up to stand in front of the soundboard.(my
wife is short so she and lots of other shorter folks did not get to see
much of the band).  It was my wife's 1st Dylan show, I have not seen him
for quite a few years though. I miss him on guitar! Nice show, the sound
was good up front, I thought Dylan's vocals on the bottom end were blown
out, almost hoarse at times, his mid range was fantastic. Great tunes,
nice arrangements and pretty mellow overall. We both enjoyed the show, the
band tight and crowd mellow. A good solid show, but for me nothing
spectacular. very enjoyable!

Mark Solomonson


Review by Peter Wiley

Dear Sarah, You were right on target, so direct. When I heard the Bob
Dylan concert in Santa Rosa was general admission, no assigned seating I 
was disappointed. When we ran across you and your pottery shop in
Shelburne  Falls, MA and you said that would be the best way to see Dylan
because it would  be possible to get right up to the lip of the stage for
close up viewing. You  were entirely correct. We arrived to The Grace
Pavilion at The Sonoma County  Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA we arrived
three hours early. It had been raining  and the ground was wet and puddles
abounded. We paid $5 bucks for fairground  parking. We lined up at six pm.
There was a fair amount of people already in  line, maybe one hundred
fifty. It started to rain again. Lightly to moderate.  They let us in a
little earlier than 6:30 PM. Everyone was fairly loose and  calm. It was a
good mix of folks. A fair amount of middle age people but a  goodly amount
of younger people too. Sons and daughters. We entered the hall relatively
quickly. We went straight to  the lip of the stage. Grace Pavilion is like
an airplane hanger. Over the last  15 years or so we've done many arts and
crafts and gem and jewelry trade shows there so we are very familiar w/
the hall. Security was good so any attempt to  sneak in would have proven
difficult. The security check at entry was a ticket scan. Had I known 
that we'd had brought a better camera in. No photography allowed but I've
always  been an anti-no kinda guy. No means maybe if it causes no one any
harm. What's  not to like about your own photo of Mr Bob Dylan? We were
about three rings of people back from the  stage. As the crow flies, we
were 25 feet away from where Bob Dylan would be in 90 minutes. We were
me, my S.O. MS  Calliope and a good friend, Windsor Green.

I purchased eight tickets to the concert @ $64 dollars each. I  planned to
sell them to friends at cost and any tickets left over I'd scalp for  a
good profit. "Money t' be made." as Bobby would say. I didn't feel too bad
about that. As Ricky Nelson said, "Mr Hughes in Dylan shoes." Bob's not
hurtin'  for scratch.

I couldn't get many takers on the tixs. The thought of  standing for hours
and not having a seat put off several of my aging peer group.  Let's face
it, we're not twenty something. I've stood for many concerts and  fainted
at one, half a life time ago. I didn't want to stand for hours either. But
shitfire this was  my idol, Bob D live in concert, 18 miles from my house
and I was in town and I  had the opportunity to pre buy the tickets and
they were not hundreds of $$$$.  Suck if up dude! It ended up the only
taker of my eight tickets was me, Kelly  and Windsor. Windsor had two
other friends lined up but at the last moment and  the day of the concert
they bailed so I had five tickets left. I'd had them on  Craigslist for
$150 then $100. I couldn't get any serious takers and what made  it worse
was I was back east. I  arrived back to the west coast one day before the 
Santa Rosa concert. On the day of the concert and in a panic mode I  put
the Dylan tickets back on Craigslist for $75 and included my home phone 
number. The phone started ringing off the hook. I sold my extra tickets in
 minutes and we all met at a local fruit and vegetable stand in Sonoma an
hour  later to make the exchange. Everything clicked for once as it
should. Everyone  was happy. Very happy.

Windsor arrived to our place at 4 PM. We all made  sandwiches to eat at
the fairgrounds. We arrived to Santa Rosa around 4:40. We  saw that the 
fairgrounds area didn't look too crowded yet. I went to the local  Costco
to gas up. Windsor joked about running in and getting dogfood for her 
hound. We drove back to the fairgrounds. The local Costco and the 
fairgrounds are only minutes away. Windsor brought a six pack of Sierra
Nevada beer. I brought a pocket full of Oregone weed. I declined the beer
'cause I didn't want to have to pee and we kept the weed unlit. Chicken
Little Like A Rolling UnStoned. Well, for whatever reason I'm afraid I'm
permanently "stoned". Augmenting it isn't always necessary. We're in the
hall, we are almost to the lip of the stage.  Grace Pavilion holds about
4500 people. Before it gets too packed I roam around  to see if we are in
the best location to see Dylan. I get to the other side  where I talk to a
woman who saw Dylan last night in Stockton, CA. She thinks  she's in the
best spot because she has a good clear view of Bob's organ. I do a  mental
check of her view and go back to our side. We're on the left side of the 
stage. Me being the doofus that I'm capable of being, misplace where Bob's
organ  is. I place it as being further back (actually where the other
keyboard player  was. I completely miss Bob's relatively smaller keyboard
more to the front  of the stage). I say to Windsor that the view might be
better on the right side.  Windsor replies that she staying put. Kelly
rejoins us after going to the  bathroom. Now it's just standing for 90
minutes making small talk and trying to forget you're tired of standing
already. I spot what looks like a friend two people rings in front of  us.
Yes, it's Janice. We make contact and that gives us the ability to inch
yet a little closer to the stage. I'm trying to maintain some breathing
room. I figure when Bob comes on stage there will be a group surge closer
and we will  become even more crowded. Two women behind us strike up a
conversation. One of the women  has seen a lot of concerts all over the
world. She's quite a concert goer. The other woman's on a cane and she's
inching closer and closer using her cane as a divining rod. She's rubbing
me and Kelly the wrong way. At one point she  actually gets between me and
Kelly. I gracefully take care of that edging closer  to Janice to hear her
better. The women are in their 40's and not  uncomely. There are a few
crowd crashers. A couple manage to get through  the pack to get better
viewing. Not many people try. As the concert was about to  begin a woman
comes snaking through followed by her male friend. They get in  front of
me as the band comes on stage and I tell the guy,"Excuse me but I was  in
front of you" and I maneuver them behind me. The band comes on a little
after 8 pm. We have a great view of Dylan. Everyone in the band is
dressed in black. All the band members were sporting goatees. Bob's face
looks like the biggest thing on his body. He almost has a senator McCain
face. It's puffy and large. Unrealish. Abnormal. The rest of Bob is
slight. The man's not tall. He's definitely got skinny legs. He was 
dressed completely in black except for a red stripe running down his pant
leg.  He's wearing a red shirt w/ white polka dots and matching cravat.
It's hard  to think of Bob Dylan being almost 65. He's wearing a black
widebrimmed gambler  type hat. The band starts off w/ Maggie's Farm. We
noticed earlier that we are directly under the leftside wall of speakers.
Fortunately they are tilted up. The band's loud and good. Dylan's
smiling. He's pounding away on  his organ. The whole band is looking good.
We had no anticipation on what to  expect. I knew from the expectingrain
website that Bob was only playing  keyboards and harmonica. The set lists
were there and the encore would be "Like  A Rolling Stone" and "All Along
The Watch Tower". A couple favorites but there  are so many favorites. The
rhythm guitar player stepped up. Shit! He was obscuring  Bob. Kelly nudged
me and said the concert was great but she couldn't see Dylan.  I thought
oh shit and tried to slowly edge to our right. The woman w/ the cane  was
leaning it in to Kelly back. Kelly finally snapped at her. There was a
brief  confrontation and exchange of words. The rhythm player slipped back
and stayed  back for the concert, thank goodness. We had a great close up
view of Mr Dylan  for almost two solid hours. He was very up and you could
tell he was together  and happy. Every member of the band was completely
tuned in to Bob. Every  instrument was rocking. If I had any criticism at
all, I did not particularly  like the lead guitar sound. The guitar player
was very confident. He looked  really sharp. He played great. It was the
sound of his guitar. I know I'm being nit-picky and it's just my take.
His playing was crisp and  excellent.

I liked the drummer. He was young, 30's. I guess I liked him  because he
looked like my old buddy I grew up w/ Mike Mau who formed Stoneground  in
the '70s. He looked a lot like Mike Mau wearing a black beret like Mike 
wore. The whole band was keyed in to Dylan. Everyone was looking at  Bob
the entire concert. Bob was smiling. Up. Close to the last song, "Summer 
Days" Bob nodded to the drummer and they kicked it up a notch. They were
loud.  The whole concert I was worried about ear damage. The band was 
loud. A man next to me had hands covering his ears the entire  concert
except when he wasn't watching Bob through some pencil thin binoculars. 
The man was bespeckled and had salt and pepper hair. He looked fairly
straight.  There was a guy close to him taking photos. I had Kelly drag
out our little digital camera and I took a few photos. Security spotted
the other guy taking  photos and they quietly flashed a light on him to
shut it down. I think he was surprised they caught him. My photos didn't
come out. Our little digital is a cheapie and we aren't that skilled w/
it. Disappointing because I doubt I'll  ever be that close to Bob Dylan

I saw Bob Dylan in Sydney, Australia on April Fools Day  in 1977. It was an
outdoor concert in the evening. As I recall Bob was fairly  far away on
stage and we were positioned behind a corral type railing. After the 
concert I was tempted to hop the rail and run in to the tent Bob
disappeared  into and tell him there was a Yank in to crowd who loved his
every word. 

The only other time I think I saw him was in San Francisco circa 1976. I
was selling my wares on the wharf on a corner near the piers and the
crabpots and the oyster crackers and the monkey and the organ grinder were
still there until one day the monkey bit a tourist and those two, the
monkey and  the organ grinder, had to get out of town. Of course Robin was
just getting setup and Robert Shields was doing backflips on stilts and
these other dudes  were playing pianos on Ford Falcons w/ the back seats
removed and a piano implanted and slicing watermelons on flatbeds and
eating apples w/  blades flipping gleaming in the sunlight.... and.....
this very slightish guy, a wisp of a guy appears in a clown suit and
pancake makeup all over his  face~painted like a clown w/ a boater on his
head. He has a banjo and he starts  playing on the corner of  Jefferson
and Leavenworth and the man is GREAT. He can really play the banjo. I've
been set up for hours that day like so  many other days. This was one of
my spots where I sold my handmade goods. It was a hurdy-gurdy world of
wind and fog and tourists. It was a merry go round  that didn't come round
except in my thought dreams. And all I could think was the only guy who
could be that great on banjo and clown gear could only be Bob Dylan. He
didn't sing. I think he was doing mime. He threw down his boater and it
filled w/ $$$$bills and spilled over in minutes. A man picked up his
shaggy dog and danced. It was magic. I'd encountered many nuisances who'd
set up shop near me and put up w/ it but the banjo playing clown never
returned and he didn't stay long.

Bob and the band finished the set and left the stage. They  crowd was
yelling for more. I was afraid we weren't screaming loud enough and  Bob
wouldn't return for the encore. But they did and they played "Like A
Rolling  Stone" and "All Along The Watchtower" It was already sensory
overload time for me. A woman directly in front of us, in her 50's, had
been movin' and  groovin' to the concert all night. She looked comical and
silly but she was very happy. The band finished and the lights came up
and they exited. Bob and band came back on stage but on the other side
and took  a bow. It was a nice touch to a great evening. I didn't see the
Oscar that was said to be seen at other concerts.

The crowd spilled out in to the black sky. The pavement was wet. Everyone
was buzzing. The church of Bob Dylan dissipated in to the evening down
the foggy ruins of time, out to the windy beach far past the frozen dance beneath the diamond sky, the waves beneath our feet far 
from the twisted reach of crazy sorrows headlights danced beneath the
cloudy skies w/ turn signals blinking free. Let me to forget about today 
until tomorrow. Paz Y Amor=Peter Wiley


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