Madison, Wisconsin
Warner Park
August 27, 2004

[Tom Palaima], [Brian Doyle], [Tom Miller], [Scott Reath], [James D. Hauser],
[David Smith], [Tom Dunn], [Mark]

Review by Tom Palaima

It was a beautiful night at the old ballpark in Madison. 70's and a 
gentle breeze.  If you don't think that average Americans yearn for 
something authentic in music and something that speaks to and for 
them, you should have been, I suspect, at any of these minor league 
park gigs.

I had flown up from Austin, Texas to see these two great legends play
again, but my first taste of them together, except on Big-Six-O boots. The
sound system was fabulous. The stage was set out in center field and the
infield was roped off and that rope was respected.  We sat in the far
stands with a very distant, but unobstructed view of the stage. Most of
the folks were packed into the outfield grass, standing close to the

Willie had his wonderful backup band supplemented by his own son and I
believe harp player Mickey Raphael's son on percussion and 'blues' guitar.
The announcer in introduction promoted Willie as a more viable
presidential candidate from Texas. There were few disagreements.

Willie's set held no real surprises, just great and genial playing 
and good interaction with the crowd. It was great to hear "Me and 
Paul" live (other than on Willie's rare and unreleased).  Larry 
Davis's"Texas Flood," with a solo by the kid, was wonderful, 
especially with reverberations for an Austinite of all the blues 
greats that have felt obliged to play it coming through the old 
Antone's. And, of course, it being the 14th anniversary of Stevie Ray
Vaughn's death nearby north of Chicago, made the playing of the tune,
which SRV covered so beautifully, a real tribute.

Bob's set list was standard for this tour, opening with a blistering
"Drifter's Escape". My friend Raj, who plays percussion, and his wife
Luci, who plays piano, pointed out that Bob uses his voice like another
instrument. That instrument was in great shape. I agree with a review of
an earlier concert that Stu Kimball's playing seems to have raised Bob's
level of lyric-rendering.  The words were crisp and wonderfully raspy. 
Two real treats: "If Dogs Run Free" done as if the band were playing at
the Village Vanguard. I think lots of us wanted to take off free across
the swamp of time.  And then Willie coming out to do a duet with Bob on
"Heartland." The great contrast in their voices made this a highlight.

The band did jet-stream versions of "High Water Rising (for Charlie 
Patton)" (George Recile should go into Bob's drumming Hall of Fame) 
and "Summer Days" (the uptempo boogie had Bob's leg moving Jerry Lee Lewis

Standard encores: Watchtower and Rolling Stone were well-delivered.

FOOTNOTES: I talked to two early-twenty-something guys who were 
deeply into Bob and CSNY. They were in awe of my 1990 tour t-shirt 
and that my friend Luci had actually been at the 64 All Hallow's Eve
concert in NYC. There is hope for the world.

On the other hand my 52-year-old body finally had to use the pissoir
during "Watchtower" (the acoustics were even great in the john) and I
commented to the college-age kid at the neighboring stall, "Once in a
lifetime to be taking a leak to Bob playing 'Watchtower'."  His comment,
"He's finally playing some good stuff."

So much for the limits of taste and retro-ism.

Bob was in a good mood introducing the band. He even told a variant 
of his 'fork in the road' joke.

Thanks, Bob and Willie, for bringing 'rural music' to the heartland 
on a magical night and for honoring the memory of SRV.

A real downpoar started about 15 minutes after the concert ended. 
Thoughts of SRV's take of Elmore James' "The Sky is Cryin'" went 
through my head.

Tom Palaima
Austin, TX


Review by Brian Doyle

I would be remiss if I did not discuss the proceeding shows just a little,
so what follows, is a brief statement. The best show so far, hands down,
has been Lexington, Kentucky. It has been a strange tour, a lot of driving
from place to place, and in general some very unruly crowds. This mostly,
from the over consumption of beer, and the mindless chatter that others
seem to be compelled to discuss everything from their Dentist's
appointments to Uncle Jake's tractor that threw a rod. I kid you not, why
do these people even bother to pay for a ticket? Save your money and buy
more beer! (and stay home and enjoy it so folks that have a passion to see
the artist paint can absorb the canvas in totality without distraction
from your alcohol induced self proclamations) Better yet, go to the show
and be respectful, enjoy a nice cold one, and after the show, drink, eat,
and be blissful.  Just don't hug a tree after the show if you had too
many, the cops in Madison obviously found that strange behavior as they
handcuffed a gent and took him off to never sober land. I mean, Arbor Day
is cool and all, but not everyone thinks that having a tree as your best
friend in life is very meaningful. But, I digress, on to the Madison show
here below!

It was a little difficult to find the venue for me, lots of construction
on the mainways and very tired from the previous drive from Peoria. It's
a great town though, lots of lakes and trees and a nice bunch of locals.
It sort of reminds me of a Midwest Boulder, you know, not quite as hip
but getting there. State street seems the equivalent of the "Hill" area
in Boulder as well. It's a very art deco area and worth checking out. The
baseball stadium itself looks like you stepped back into time to "when it
was game". Warner Park is a simple stadium, unfortunately it has very
amateur security, that made getting into the show more difficult as the
crowds eased. They closed all but one of the gates well before the Willie
set began. I also witnessed a black security guard at the entrance, the
younger one, as there were two, try to extract a ransom from a fellow who
was bringing in some sort of camera or other prohibited item. He said you
should "hook me up with a $50", the guy left and went to his car without
paying the "bribe". Perhaps management should check this fellow out,
tending the gates of Eden and allowing people inside with questionable
items for money? That is a very sad state of affairs indeed. The rest of
the staff seemed amiable enough, and overall the placed sparked with
electricity for the show tonight. Warner Park was built in 1982, so it
was one of the older venues that I have attended so far. I was really
hoping to find baseball caps from each venue and team but I frankly have
not had the time to walk the entire venue in search of them. 
The concert began on time, at approximately  6:36 pm with the Hotclub of
Cowtown as I sat outside with my dog Candy. They ran through the standard
set, which I don't think has changed one song since the tour began, and
sort of gets the attention of people. Elena should either expand this
group or move on to greener pastures as she clearly is the only member
with any stage presence. It's not a particular slam on the band, they are
sort of refreshing, but like water, they will slowly evaporate and then
disappear unless they add more dynamics and some home spun yarns to their

Willie and his Family were next, and again, from my outside vantage, they
ran through a great little set. Willie is still the man with the plan even
at age 70, and always seems to present a relaxed show, which you know has
been rehearsed to perfection. It's clear that Willie still suffers some
pain from his carpal tunnel syndrome, and I hate to report that in my
experience with 8 different cases, not a single one ever recovered to the
point of pain free feeling. A few of them even had multiple surgeries, and
within months, same problem. So, good luck Willie, maybe yours will be
successful and a big thank you for the great sets. I am guessing that as
much as 50% of the crowd and maybe more, came to see Willie, as they have
each night. Anyway, I am finally inside and work my way to an area where
my friends have made mini camp, waiting to see what magic would be dolled
out from the Dylan set tonight. Bob and the boys came on stage at 8:52 pm
: The familiar introduction begins and soon they are revving into a sweet
"Drifter's Escape", the tone and the loudness of the first song always set
the stage for what follows. I think Bob uses this as his final soundcheck
and gets the crowd stirring. I have found the opener on this tour to be
very shocking to the Willie crowd, and tonight was no exception. (I think
they are caught very off guard by the loudness and directness Sir Bob
offers up) Elena from the Cowtown group is back on violin tonight for the
first two songs, and is actually very present in the mix, and sort of
paraded in front of Bob right next to his piano. Perhaps she will be the
next "Victoria's Secret" commercial, with Bob, and to clear up matters,
the cigar on the cd and the on the posters, that Bob is smoking, were NOT
given to him by Bill Clinton. (Bob doesn't smoke used cigars, he buys his
own, or takes one from big fat Rush when he isn't looking) A pleasant
surprise is next as the mood and the band swing into "The times they are
changin'", which was a drastic switch from the previous shows, and perhaps
a little more politically moving setlist tonight. It was rendered
gracefully, but again distractions from the crowd made it nearly
impossible to fully enjoy. The band is not in uniform tonight, each
sporting a set of clothes unique to one another, but dapper looking to be
certain. Dylan rasps his way into "Seeing the real you at last", his
vocals are clear and the sound has been outstanding at all of these
outdoor shows. It's time for the Willie appearance as he enters the stage
with his two boys, and gone tonight is the intro I found very amusing that
Bob has used, "Give a hand for Willie and his boy", with a strong emphasis
on "boy", you have to hear that one. "Heartland" is very well received,
and very well done as both share individual vocals as well as harmonies.
It's a welcome change from the previous "I shall be released", not that it
was bad, but "Heartland" has more overall appeal as a duet for them. The
vocals for Willie are not as balanced from the microphone, and as a result
his voice is higher pitched than the one heard during his set.  "It's
allright Ma" is offered as the next, and Bob seems intent as he has, at
directing his band from the piano podium. It's clear that Bob has enjoyed
his new role as conductor, and the band responds in a very tight and
flawless effort. Stu has certainly added a new dimension and seems very in
sync to the music. Larry is still the master, and George flat kicks as he
punches the drums, and Tony, the always stable one is just pure
professionalism, and seldom the butt of any of Bob's corny jokes. We are
treated to a very jazzy and light "If dogs run free", and then the show
warms to "Highwater". The band is really working well now, and the show,
thanks to the crowd falling numb to the effects of their intoxications has
settled in. "Mr. Tambourine Man" is the next stop on this live jukebox,
and I was amazed to have that with "Changin'" in the same set. It's a fine
wine here folks, moving and just as inspired as the day it was written,
which seems very long ago these days. Mr. Dylan has reworked these pieces
into gems, and the polish and the tumblers result in jewels, night after
night. "Lovesick" follows, and the live version is so much better as Dylan
twists and contorts his crooning into something so wonderful. "Honest with
me" is the point that the Maestro gets the boys in gear, it's hot, much
warmer and more filling than ever, and clearly a favorite of the band.
This is the point to bring the other acoustic number into the mix, and
it's "Sugar Baby" for the road tonight. The crowd is actually a little
patient and listening to the gentleness that fills the warm evening skies.
It's magic, and working well. "Summer Days" is very uptempo compared to
some previous efforts. The mix is better tonight as the board must have
problems with the addition of Tommy's guitar as the instrumentation is
very clear here. People say that Tommy plays next to Bob so that he can
hear the progressions better as the song swells to intense heat. It's the
end of the set, and Bob and his band take center stage for the "audience
stare", and then exit. Tonight the encore is longer, by at least a minute
and nine seconds, (must have allowed the band a full cigarette behind the
curtains despite Madison's announced $75 fine for smoking on the lawn) and
then they are back for a familiar "Like a rolling stone" that each tour
seems reworked enough to capture new energy and sound. It's one for the
people and then the stage introductions and "The tonight show gag of the
day" joke. This time George is the recipient of "last night we came to a
fork in the road and George said this must be a good place to eat". I plan
to meet with Sir Bob to offer him some better material without any claims
of intellectual property. "Watchtower" rises from these ashes, and every
single night the passion and desire is evident from the stage, it would
almost be sinful to omit this closer now. I do miss the "echo" effects,
they have tried a little but it comes off more like you are hearing double
at the end of a phrase, but the song is just so appropriate to finish off
the crowd. Dylan confronts the audience one more time and then exits, and
I swear the bus is pulling out before the house lights even come on.
Overall the show tonight was average, but I can't really say that I have
ever been to a poor Dylan concert. I have been writing bunches of materiel
to document the Ballpark tour. I am very impressed with the overall
quality of the sound and less impressed with the venues that offer way too
much beer as they take huge profits. (likely more than their share of the
promoter's cut to them) Don't get the wrong idea about me, I am not anti
anything, it's just that too much beer mixed with folks that don't get out
much results in a bitter cocktail. It's a long drive down 151 to Des
Moines but very much looking forward to the next magical evening. If you
have not bought a ticket, better get one for the last week of the tour,
you really need to hear this one. "Don't you dare miss it!!!.  Forgive me
if I have used incorrect spelling or punctuations, as it is 3:14 am as I
complete this. I am also sorry for the briefness of the song reviews but I
promise to write more as I get the chance down the Highway. Thanks Bob for
sharing the talents that God has given you, and I still know you as the
preacher in disguise.


Review by Tom Miller

The whole experience of going to this Madison show was a mixture of heaven and hell. After a while 
I couldn't tell the difference between the two. I already knew Willie does a greatest hits show and 
that, like most performers, he doesn't musically re-invent his classics. His voice is great, I 
actually prefer it now to how it was in the seventies. I would like to see him tour with a different 
band though. He played a couple songs I really wanted to hear, like "Pancho and Lefty" and "Angel 
Flying Too Close To The Ground," but his band kept them from soaring to the heights they could have 
reached. I am still thrilled to have seen him though, his set did have its moments of greatness. 
Dylan's set had opposite strengths and weaknesses than Willie's. Of course his voice is shot full 
of holes and his delivery is not as imaginative as I would like it to be, but he has a band that I 
could listen to for hours and hours. I don't know if any recording, boo! tleg or official, could 
capture the magic of their music. The peaks and depths of their soundscapes can only be fully 
appreciated in person, at least for me. When I last saw Bob it was two shows he played in Milwaukee 
earlier this year. He seemed too stoned that night to sing as well as he could have. His delivery 
was subterranean and reptilian, not musical at all. In Madison, I don't think he got baked before 
his set and his vocals benefited a little bit as a result. I loved the new arrangement of "Sugar 
Baby." It reminded me of "Temorary Like Achilles" and I preferred it to the version on "Love and 
Theft." The "hell" that I referred to earlier refers to my state of near dehydration and 
claustrophobia from waiting in line since 1PM on a hot, sunny day and being five standing rows from 
stage right. The crowd was rude, obnoxious, and at times just plain insane. I had to do and say some 
things I'm not proud of to keep people from squeezing ahead of me. It ! was a battle to hold my 
ground for the entire show. During the "Heartland" duet, some angry woman in her late twenties/early
thirties yelled at the stage a few times: "How much money did you get, Bob!" The disturbed witch was 
also saying something about "world peace." She got in an argument with another woman with a shrill 
voice which lasted for most of that song, before she finally disappeared. Right after Dylan's set 
ended, an over-weight middle aged man with a baseball cap made his way through the dispersing fans 
to the rail. He cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted at top volume to the roadies putting the 
other people still hanging out by the rail, perhaps waiting for guitar picks or set lists, who were 
swearing venomously at the idiot. A security goon was yelling at him to go home but it took the 
physical shove of a fan to get him out of there. I guess he wanted to see the Dylan from 1963. People 
were there to experience good music, not to have a political rally. I guess that loud-mouthed geek is
an example of what happens when a person watches and reads too much news.  Although I would have 
preferred it if Wille had sang the anti-war/anti-Bush song "Whatever Happened To Peace One Earth" 
instead of "Wine For My Men, Beer For My Horses."  But that media casualty really left a sour taste 
in my mind. He made me feel like boycotting all political coverage and never voting again. If I make 
it to another Dylan show, maybe I'll just get a seat, sit through the whole show with my eyes closed 
and ears open. The music, more meaningful and lasting than politics, will be worth it.


Review by Scott Reath

I cruised fast down HWY 151 from Fond du Lac last night after my golf
league on a solo mission to catch the Bob Dylan show, held just west of
the Madison Airport, at a minor league stadium located in Warner Park. It
was quite a bit nicer, and bigger, than I had expected from the drab pics
on the internet.  Today's Madison paper estimated  the attendance at
14000-plus, and I believe it as the entire grounds of the stadium were
packed, including the bleachers behind home plate. After my last 2 Bob
shows at the beautiful, historic, and intimate Aragon and Riviera theaters
in Chicago, dealing with a large crowd like this was quite a sobering
shock; Fortunately, I witnessed no bad-behavior issues. Per usual at these
stadium setups , the bathroom situation appeared to be a hellish
nightmare. I arrived after Willie's set, grabbed a big Bud-Light, and
snaked my way up to approx. 50 feet in front of Larry Campbell which I
learned in Chicago is the best place to be for an excellent front-on
profile of Dylan at the keyboard. Bob seemed to be having alot fun up
there, very engaged. The sound was pretty good. We got to hear quite a bit
of very competent harp work last night, and as usual Larry was worth
keeping a close eye and ear on! What talent that man has, I love it when
he really gets going on one of those exotic, rare guitars of his. The
crowd was respectful but didn't get enthused about much of anything until
the final 1/3 of the show. Highlights for me were Love Sick, a
hard-rocking Seeing the Real You at Last, a very good Honest With Me and a
sublime Watchtower. They really finished strong. Again, Bob was very
focused and in fine spirits, right on top of the band's every move and
never flashed that bored, detached look you see from time-to-time. Also,
he seemed extremely happy to share the stage with Willie and the female
violinist from the opening act. When he introduced Recelli, he said
something to the effect of  "George once came to a fork in the road, and
said Let's Eat!" It was funny. After all the reports from past years that
Bob Dylan is sullen, brooding, unsocial, grumpy, etc., it pleases me to
see that at this stage of his life he is obviously happy, lighthearted and
eager too laugh and make others laugh. He deserves it! The downers: The
new arrangement of High Water was a big disappointment; this is one of my
favorites but I much preferred the banjo-tinged version; last night's
arrangement simply lacked any intensity  of the '02-03 approach; It just
didn't work for me at all. Also, as excited as I was when I realized that
I was hearing the rare Sugar Baby, it sort of limped along, and I got the
impression that the band hadn't practiced the chord changes so it really
suffered. And When Dogs Run Free was a snoozer. The entire band (except
Bob) appeared tired to me; not a smile all night from Larry as far as I
could see; I felt that it was a very competent but workmanlike show from
the supporting cast, no suprise after the absolutely grueling schedule of
this past Spring and Summer. I think a break will we well-received! The
new guitarist did not impress me in any way; Unlike others, I was
impressed with Freddy Koella. In Chicago he did a fabulous job, and I hope
he returns soon. Also, Bob had a very uncharismatic looking roadie-type
playing guitar behind him during the encores, and sorry but from my
vantage point, he added absolutely nothing. Things have slipped a bit in
terms of the intense and emotional (and longer) shows I witnessed in
Lacrosse, Madison Kohl center and Green Bay a couple of years back. Losing
Sexton and having Bob abandon the guitar were a real double whammy. I'll
give this 85-minute Dylan show a B. I'm glad I went, Bob looks fantastic,
but I am starting to really miss the sound of the Sexton-era, Bob at
center stage playing guitar gave the songs such tonal intensity; it was
much "richer" and emotionally powerful. Now the sound seems more brash and
"in-your-face", which can be a good thing but subtle it is not! Oh well,
if there is one thing we can count on with Bob, it will not stay the same
for long! About five minutes after the band left the stage, it began
raining hard. I got right out of town and made it back up to Fond du Lac
by 11:30 with big bolts of lightning over Madison in my rear view mirror
all the way back home! 

Scott Reath
Fond du Lac, WI

PS: Bob; please consider playing in Appleton, WI; the childhood home of
Harry Houdini! They have a brand new 3000 seat performing arts center up
there, gorgeous acoustically excellent.


Review by James D. Hauser

Awesome show.  Here are the highlights and some of the misses
Madison seems to have oversold tickets for this, and the park was packed
to the point where everyone in the entire park could barley move.  In
addition, Wisconsin has its share of drinkers and idiots, which made for
some annoyances.  Sometimes, I wish drinking would not be allowed, then
maybe the potheads could take over.  They rarely bug anyone. On Bob's
songs with Elana, they forgot to turn up her volume.  This may not have
been a mistake, as she was out of tune.

I have seen Bob over a hundred times, but his version of Its Allright Ma
was the best I have ever heard. He was shouting out the words and had such
passion that I had chills.  I Think it was his memories of Madison back in
the day that brought this to life. I have never enjoyed High Water, even
after hearing it 20 or so times. This version was incredible, and I know
now why Bob kept trying to pull this song off. Sugar Baby's arrangement
was incredible.  Bobs voice sounded absolutely beautiful on this one
Summer Days smoked, and was the best I have heard since Bob started doing
this song. The sound was of course incredible.  I even saw the sound crew
going around and checking levels.  Thanks to Bob or whoever for making
sure the people heard this incredible music and its best. The sound and
the band blow away anything out there, and I left feeling that I wish more
people cared. Thanks Bob

Thanks Bob
James D. Hauser


Review by Trapper Schoepp

Some Family and friends of mine arrived at the show
a hour early and were surprised to see such a large
line. It took about fifteen minutes to get to the
gates in line. We managed to get about 20 feet from
the stage. The opening act was The Hot Club of
Cowtown. They were a really good opener. Now was

He came out in street wear and really casual
looking. Then a big guy came out and announced Willie
is running for president. Willie played his
hits,gospel and a Hank willianm's song. His voice and
guitar sounded really good. Along with his son. After
willie was done some willie fans moved back. Now for

Dylan walked out in a black type suit and of course
a cowboy hat. I wont talk about all his songs just
some of the fan favorites.

He opened with Drifters Escape.His voice was pretty
rough at first but got better through out the show.
Next was The times they are a changin.Pretty clear
singin. A great song. Elana Fremerman was on violin
for those two songs. Seeing the real you at last was
good. Then Willie came out and sang heartland with
Bob. Now was a great version of Its all right ma im
only bleeding. He sang this one in short sprints.Much
loved by the fans. After a few more songs came
Mr.Tambourbine Man. He didnt really sing it he just
talked it really fast which was almost better than it
in Bringin It All Back Home.
Then was a very loud and rockin Lovesick.Everyone was
having fun rockin to this song. Summer Days was the
last song before the encore and was great. Then Dylan
came back out with Like a Rolling Stone and All Along
the Watchtower his best songs that night i thought.

Some things that went on that day for me were:

1.Seeing a kid ridin a bike and fell face first into
the ground while I standing in line.
2.Sittin out by Bob's bus at his hotel and hoping he
would come out but never did. Oh Well.
3.Definatily not good thing but gettin hit on by a old
drunk lady.

A good time was had by everyone!


Comments by David Smith

Arrived back home yesterday afternoon following a good road trip out to
Wisconsin to camp and to catch Dylan in Madison.  All in all, it was an
excellent trip and a great evening of music.  The folks that sat around us
on the outfield of Warner Park were all very gracious--a good sense of
community among the fans in Madison.  Dylan played a good set and sounded
quite good.  Though they didn't play Desolation Row, the circus certainly
was in town.  That is, the show had a very festive feel to it--many
families, lots of smiles, and plenty of things to do between sets.  Along
with Cooperstown, this was the highlight of the summer.  Well, it's time
to get ready for school tomorrow.  Definitely looking forward to the next
leg of the Never Ending Tour.

David Smith
Ferndale, Mich.


Review by Tom Dunn

I decided at about noon to take a half day off of work and head to Madtown for the first of three 
Willie & Bob shows.  My friend Jimmy was none too happy as I had to forgo a game of golf on this 
hard-to-come-by nice summer day in Minnesota.  I got the typical question, "Do you really need to 
see three Dylan shows in a row?"  "Yes, I replied…and did not try to explain."  I headed down the 
road from St. Paul at 2:00 p.m. without a ticket or directions to Warner Park, but with that 
feeling in my heart.  

The trek started with my blue VW wagon crossing over Highway 61 and the beautiful St. Croix river 
valley south of Stillwater and into America's Dairyland.    
Wisconsin is a beautiful state and is said to have more lakes than Minnesota.  The countryside is 
peppered with corn, cattle, rolling hills, rocks, Cheese houses, and summer family vacation spots 
like Jellystone Park and the Dells.  You can even catch the Circus World Museum in Baraboo if you 
have the time.  I did not as I was going to be cutting it close already.  Madison is about 4 hours 
from St. Paul without heavy traffic or road  construction.   In an effort to save some time, I 
left a message for my brother Steve in Omaha to have him look up the directions for me to the park 
on the net.  Our friend and his coworker , Jeff a/k/a Vivian, and he called me back with directions 
on a speaker phone.  They are hitting the show in Lincoln on Tuesday.  I tried talking them into 
meeting me in Des Moines tomorrow, but without avail. 

I rolled into Madtown around 6:00.  Madison is the Capital of Wisconsin and a large college town.  
It is also home of the Onion and Bill Pagel, who I have never met but hope to some  day.  It has a 
reputation for being a party town and I can attest to that.  My guess is there are more watering 
holes per capita on this campus than any other.   I think that goes for brat houses as well.   I 
always like hitting the Tornado when I am in town and have a few hours and bucks to blow..but not 
tonight.   I had to stop at a convenience store and get directions as the road my brother told me 
to exit on was non-existent.   The very friendly attendant gave me some complicated directions, 
but assured me I was only about 10 minutes away.   About 10 minutes later, I turned onto a road 
that was backed up with obvious concert traffic and not moving at all.  Damn.  I only had about 
20 minutes to get to the show, park, walk, scalp or buy a ticket and get inside to catch the Hot 
Club of Cowtown.  I did not panic and comforted myself thing it would be okay if I was a little
late as I would still catch the legendary headliners.  Shoot…panic set in…I don't have a ticket…
what if they are sold out?  After a few minutes on this road to nowhere, I pulled around the 
traffic and sped down the other lane.  Everyone was in the left turn lane to get into some sort 
of parking lot for the ball field…so, I went right and found a spot about two blocks away on a 
residential street.  I double checked the street parking signs as I just had my car towed in 
downtown Minneapolis two weeks ago and did not need another late night car finding fiasco.

I hustled to the ball field and noticed right away an ugly sight…a line, just like the cars, 
wrapped around a fence about a football field long with slow moving people.  I got in line and 
started looking for signs of a ticket.  Less than a minute later, I had a face value ticket to 
this sold out show and was walking with the fellow who satisfied my need towards the front gate.  
I asked him what was with the line.   He said to head towards the front as there are two lines 
there and no one is using the second line.  That was partially correct and I felt bad for a few 
seconds as I easily merged into the shorter line without any slack from the concertgoers who had 
patiently waited.  Security to get in was very slack…only checking ladies purses, bags and 
backpacks.  My digital camera was very safe attached to my midsection in a passport pack.   
Through the turnstiles and then a relaxed and excited feeling of freedom.  Time: 6:25.  Thanks 
to my shortcuts, I had time to check out the venue, use the pathroom, and get a Gatorade.

Then, I headed for the front…stage right as it appeared more open and accessible.  I stayed off 
to the right during Cowtown's frolicking and crowd-pleasing set of mostly what I thought were 
Bob Wills covers.  The female lead singer had a sweet sounding voice and the band was tight.  
She had a big Katie Couric-like smile on all through their entire set and later on with Bob.  
I moved slowly towards the middle and did not make any quick dashes towards the front.  There 
were a lot of nice people who showed up real early and set down blankets in front of the stage.  
This created a lot of open space when the sets were being changed for Willie and his family. I 
was able to get about 25 feet from the stage  during the Willie set.  

Willie sang the last song of Cowtown's set with them helping to wet the appetites of the crowd 
for his upcoming appearance.  When he finally came out about twenty minutes later, he elevated 
the audience to a new level and continuously pointed at and waved to the crowd.  I found out 
later these are some of his signature gestures as well as pointing up to the sky.  He might have 
done this a thousand times in his career, but to me, it was very special and gave me an 
incredible feeling of happiness to see him alive and in person.   The same feeling I get about 
Bob.   Willie played 20 - 25 songs, mostly his own and some tributes mixed in to Townes Van Zandt, 
Merle Haggerd, and Hank Willliams.  The ones that hit me the most tonight were Pancho and Lefty, 
Me and Paul, Whiskey for my Men Beer for my Horses, and On the Road Again.   I don't own any 
Willie Nelson albums…but will after tonight.  Willie made me proud to be an American again in 
this land where, to paraphrase Bob, justice, politics and war ar games.  I wa glad Willie had his
two sons along for the ride and on stage jamming.  It was a nice touch and I felt a passing of 
the torch as their circle remained unbroken.

There were a lot of Willie fans up front who either nicely moved out of the way for the Bob fans 
or really had to hit the biffs bad from all the beer.  I was able to get within 10 feet of the 
stage just off center left during set changes.   I started conversing with a tall man about 6'7 
and his 14 year old son.  It was the kids first Dylan show and he seemed truly excited.   
Apparently his brother had previously gotten to see the Stones in Europe alone with their dad.  
I told him this was the better concert to witness and  knew he would probably be scratching his 
head about half way through in wonder of what everyone was freaking out over. I gave the kid a 
drink of my Gatorade as he was parched and working the old man to go and get him a Coke or 
something.  His father told stories of seeing Dylan and the Band in about '74 as well as 
attending one of the Rolling Thunder shows in Texas or something.  I was jealous and happy for 
him and could only imagine what it would have been like to be at either one of those events. 

The lights went down and the bumper music went up sounding a little bit like the Olympic theme 
song.  The intro was hard to hear under the sea of clapping when out  walked my musical hero and 
his current band to the sound of thunder.  Madtown was revved up to see Bob outside under the 
cool, crisp, almost-full harvest moon sky.

The show started out relatively slow for me  with Drifter's Escape and never  really left that 
place.  After the Times and the Real You, Willie and his son Lucas walked out with their guitars 
and livened up the crowd again.  I was not familiar with the song these two living legends did 
together while staring into each others ageless histories spanning time and space, but I loved 
it.  It felt like an old pair of jeans and a worn out favorite sweatshirt.  I caught the words 
American Dream and thought it had to be about a sarcastic look in the mirror about the reality 
of America and all the lost dreams…similar to the feelings aroused in Masked and Anonymous.  It's 
Alright Ma came next and the concert engines again slowed down with a heart felt version, but very 
mellow.  If Dogs Run Free followed and was the highlight for me on this romantic night under the 
clouding sky and half hidden moon.  A very jazzy version reminding me of the small lounge venues 
earlier this year.  Highwater rocked a bit…but I saw Larry's face and did not feel he was really
into it tonight.  His face looked flushed and he may have been hot from the heaters placed on the 
front of the stage.  Bob did not look at the audience much, if at all, and I was unable to catch 
any head bobs or knee bends to this point.  After Mr. Tambourine Man was appreciably received, 
Love Sick came with a surprise for me.  During this song, it hit home this was one of those shows 
that just wasn't going to go where I wanted it to.  I reminded myself I can't always get what I 
want and do not have to be having a fun time all the time.  I rationalized the band was not just 
going through the motions, but the melancholy performance was based on how they were feeling 
tonight.  Maybe it was just another day for the boss and his band on the never ending tour…just 
like a lot of days I have at work.    I remembered the former Minnesota Twin All-Star Centerfielder 
Kirby Puckett saying that tomorrow is another day after a reporter questioned him on his dismal 
batting performance after a game.   Bob and his band cannot possibly always be up, and neither can 
I.  I rode this understanding for the rest of the show and was able to appreciate it much more once 
I accepted this…and started rolling with it vs. against it.  I got mad at myself for setting my 
expectations so high.   

The main set rounded out with Honest with Me, Sugar Baby, and Summer Days.  I was glad I have spent 
a lot of time listening to Love and Theft lately.  I met a girl named Sam during Honest with Me and 
we danced off one another during these songs.  The dancing was a little discombobulated, just like 
the show, and never really reached a full blown jam.  She scooted up closer to the stage for the 
encore and I remained as I wanted to get some photographs during the last few songs.  The security 
was no longer as aggressive as earlier with those  who risked  sneaking cameras into the venue.  I 
have been busted twice with a camera at a Dylan show losing a roll of film once in Mankato and a 
digital memory card most recently in Milwaukee at the Rave.  So, I am super sensitive and only took 
about 5 shots during LARS and the Watchtower.   It has been one of my dreams to get one good, but 
still illusive Bob shot worth hanging on a wall. 

The show ended and the rain came shortly thereafter as people were rushing to their cars.  The 
drizzle was a good bookend to the feeling of tonights event.  I was able to keep my poster dry and 
drove out of the Capital City with ease as I stayed away from the main drag traffic on the back 

The road trip home to St. Paul went quick as I was pumped up on Red Bull and more great memories of 
another incredible life experience in the open air atmosphere filled up by Bob and his Band, Willie 
Nelson and family and Cowtown, as Willie called them.  The Gear Daddies, the Jayhawks and I following 
the alka-seltzer moon through the rolling hills of Wisconsin, over the St. Croix and across Highway 61.  
I crashed around 3:15 with visions of a field of dreams in my head for tomorrow night's show in Iowa.  


Comments by Mark

Since the Dylan concert at Madison's Warner Park has already been multiply
reviewed, I thought I'd just add a few observations.

Reviewer impressions of the crowd and venue seem heavily dependent on
where they were situated.  Up toward the front, spectators spread blankets
on the grass and enjoyed an indecent amount of space.  My daughter and I
occupied about 15 square feet and successfully protected it from claim
jumpers.  Everyone in our area was well-behaved, and attentive to the
music.  During Dylan's set, we easily snaked our way through the crowd to
within 30 feet of the stage.  My only complaint about the audience is that
people in front insisted on standing, which forced everyone on the grass
to stand throughout Willie's and Bob's sets.

The Hot Club of Cowtown played an opening set of Western Swing that was
competent but forgettable.  The repertoire of this three-piece ensemble is
better suited to a club than a large, open-air venue; only their energetic
version of "Orange Blossom Special" really captured the crowd's attention.
 Their presence as the opening at made me wonder if Bob is dating the
fetching fiddler-lead vocalist.

Willie Nelson's voice remains a national treasure, although it did seem to
tire toward the end of the set.  At times, he seemed to "scan" the melody,
kind of singing the chord rather than the individual notes.  His "Greatest
Hits" performance was a reminder of just how many classics he has
contributed to the canon; "Crazy," "Funny How Time Slips Away," and others
are a joy to here.  Willie was jovial to an almost slaphappy degree,
repeatedly waving back to audience members who waved at him during his
vocals.  He promped the crowd to sing along.  "Poncho and Lefty" was a

The presence of the garrulous Willie, who considers us all extended
Family, accentuated Dylan's inscrutable, almost schizoid manner.  Bob
played keyboards instead of guitar on this tour, and chose to sit face
sideways rather than toward his audience.  He would sometimes leave the
keyboard during instrumental breaks to wander about the stage like someone
looking for the restroom.  He had little to say to the audience.  

I particularly enjoyed Dylan's reworkings of familiar songs like "Mr.
Tamborine Man" and "The Times They are a Changin'."  The re-arranging
Dylan does freshens the material for the audience as well as for Dylan
himself.  I certainly have no need to hear Dylan duplicate studio
recordings he made decades ago.  Dylan's duet with Willie on "Heartland"
was a delight; I had expected a sloppy informality along the lines of
Dylan duets with Johnny Cash, but the song was well-rehearsed and
delivered with feeling.  "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Watchtower," the two
encores Dylan has been performing throughout the tour, were very polished
and intense.    

To a diehard Dylan fan, there is no such thing as an obscure or unfamiliar
song, but Dylan did a little too much recent and B-side material for the
rest of us.  If you don't already know the lyrics, you're not going to
learn them by listening to Dylan over an outdoor sound system, excellent
though this one was.  I also had a problem with a problem with two of
Dylan's latest vocal innovations.  Sometimes he would recite the lyrics in
a harsh staccato, giving each syllable precisely equal time, eg,
"Once-a-pon-a-time-you-dressed-so fine," sounding a bit like a scolding
Jewish patriarch.  He featured a growl in his delivery too prominently. 
At the same time, I realize that part of Dylan's continuing appeal is that
you're never sure what he's going to do or how he's going to do it. 

The concert was well worth the $45 admission, giving us a chance to see
two pop legends who perform with the energy and skill of younger men. 
However, I would say that the concert is a Twofer, a double feature,
rather than an inspired pairing.  There is no particular synergy between
Dylan and Willie, whose material and performance styles are radically
different.  What the teaming does do is to draw listeners from each man's
fan base, helping to fill these ballparks.  I applaud that, since outdoor
concerts, for all of their drawbacks, are more scenic and festive than
concerts held in halls, and I appreciate the chance to hear two of the
greatest in that setting.     


page by Bill Pagel

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