Kansas City, Kansas
Community America Ballpark
September 4, 2004

[Brian Doyle], [Anne Marvin], [Stephen Darjeeling], [Toby Lutz]

Review by Brian Doyle

I have driven straight back from Denver after a little two hour stop at a
rest area somewhere in Cowtown ,Kansas and want to write a little preview
of the review concerning the tour in general. Many thanks to thoughts and
best wishes from friends along the highway for my dog and faithful friend
of 15 years, Candy, who died last Saturday. We had left Madison down
Highway 151 and pulled into a rest stop about 121 miles east of Des Moines
for a few hours of sleep and she never woke up. I drove straight back to
Denver to give her a proper burial and she is at rest now atop some
mountain property near Jefferson lake. Candy, I will always love you, and
thank you for being my true friend. There are times in life that a man
gets more blessings than he deserves and Candy was certainly one of those.
The tour has been an interesting one, and save for the intoxicated
crowds, quite an amazing "Ballpark tour". I love baseball more than Bob,
so it was very fitting to have the pleasure of seeing 10 shows in areas
that I felt at home in. I finally figured out that the owners of these
stadiums must have made a ton of profit. Most of these parks I am guessing
are at least partially paid for with tax revenues, leaving them to profit
from everything from parking to the vast and copious amounts of beer that
were sold and consumed. I can't say enough about how unruly and
disrespectful the crowds were. There were many occasions when you were
just getting in the groove of a wonderful delivery only to have people
yelling and talking total nonsense throughout. Willie certainly sort of
encourages a certain amount of this, quite a lot of his songs are geared
towards the drinking folks, which is  fine if they could only hold their
liquor, or better yet, pass out before the Bob sets to allow those of us
who want to savor every moment and digest the words without their
inflicted heartburn, and enjoy our "dinner" without disruption. Bob
offered some very tender moments as well as out right, in your face ,rock
and roll, and for those that have posted that he is sick sounding and weak
I will have to disagree. His vocals have reached new depths and it's his
decision to play piano, even though we may prefer the old guitar. But
people, don't hold your breath, Bob walks his own path and calls all of
his own shots, so save your whines, it won't alter his course in the
least. I met at least a dozen people at each venue who had never seen Bob,
so his set lists are designed for them, not the lucky ones like us who
have seen Dylan multiple times. So, on to the review of Kansas City!

Kansas City here we come, you could feel it in your bones the minute he
departed the stage in Oklahoma City, that the last show of the tour was
going to be an intense one. The America Community Ballpark is located
right near the speedway on the east edge of the Colorado side of Kansas
City, of course you know that Kansas is just a huge plain that extends to
the Rockies West, and it's an interesting part of town to be sure.
Security was very tight at the gates, and made the crowds form male and
female lines for the pat downs and bag searches. It was by far the most
intense of any of the shows, and quite a lot of things were confiscated,
many pints of whiskey which I am sure the staff enjoyed later and lot's
turned back to return cameras and what not to their vehicles. There were a
good many people tailgating in the parking lot and the lines grew rather
long in a short period of time. VIP and Season Ticket holders were
admitted first, and actually had names on the seats for the reserved
people I mention. The ballpark is very new looking, not sure when it was
built, but very nice. It a lacks the urban feel of the downtown parks that
seemed more the norm this tour , but not a bad venue at all for a minor
league club. The "Hotclub" presented their brief set as the crowds filled
the stadium. They are actually a nice bunch of people and this has
certainly been their career highlight to open each show for Willie and
Bob, and Willie has been very accommodating to close their set with a
guest appearance each evening.   I had the pleasure of meeting Elana after
the show at the Bricktown. She was walking her dog, sorry I forgot it's
name, inside the east gates. She was very pleased that her violin had not
been lost in the mix on her debut with Bob of "Highway 61" a few nights
ago. We could have talked for hours, she was very amiable to all of it,
and really seemed interested in how the band sounded and how she fared
during the Bob sets. Willie's set began as usual with the "presidential
announcement" followed by his family and band ripping through about 27
songs, the entire greatest hits catalog for the most part. Too bad that
Bob chose not to join them for at least a song or two, "Knockin' on
Heaven's Door" would have been a real treasure Congrats to Joanie who got
to be onstage for the Willie set, certainly deserving for you since you
were almost always first to the venue and a friend indeed!. Within a half
hour of the close of the sets each night we were sweetened with the music
that proceeds the Dylan onstage announcement ( that even got screwed up in
Rochester). Bob and the band quickly assemble to rev into "Maggie's Farm",
though "Finley's Farm" would have been a more appropriate one, given the
venues and all, not to mention what fun it would have been to hear it
again.  Maggies was rocking from the get go, and again, the Willie fans
seemed surprised by the intent of the delivery. "Tonight I'll be staying
here with you" is pure bliss, sort of tones the opener down a bit and Bob
is right on top of things, always checking the band out as he perfectly
syncs his piano theatrics and delivers the lines in time, despite
appearing a little tentative as he weaves and bobs to position himself at
the vocal microphone. We are treated to a pretty much acoustic version of
"Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again", the band's
instrumentation is perfectly at ease with the blistering, searing vocals
Dylan contorts and blends with perfection, his nuances and timing are
sweet medicine on the plains tonight. Willie enters and again Bob
introduces "Heartland" as a song they had written a few years back, and it
is so much more powerful now to hear them both share and trade stanzas
live and in person. The crowd is much better tonight, unlike at the
Bricktown park the evening before when a younger lady was screaming as if
in labor (or maybe even worse) and yelling "We love you Willie" I guess
"we" meaning, as in the mouse who had climbed into her drunken pockets or
the panties she had thrown overboard before the show even started, at any
rate, completely ruining the song for the people unfortunate enough to be
within earshot which likely extended to the bleacher sections. Of course
tonight, there was the guy who kept taking the Lord's name in vain with
the addition of dammit as he demanded that "Dylan pick up the guitar",
loudly. even to disturb the music, but very doubtful that Dylan heard or
could care less. But, really, all should be forgiven, I suppose a lot of
these farmer types rarely get into town on a Saturday night for a few cold
ones, well, more than a few, but eh, they didn't  count them, and I sure
did not.  "Heartland" has just been one of those songs you had to hear and
got better each night it was displayed. Willie departs to a warm goodbye
and the chords to "Tweedle Dee and Dum" are right in your face, and the
band seems to have fun with this number. It's catchy little adult fairy
tale sound is winning over again, and the show is about to switch gears
like a freight train bellowing through the darkness. A simply magnificent
"Positively 4th Street" is at hand, and the song has been reworked so many
times, but each time unique, and still a personal favorite of mine. Elana
sneaks onstage with her violin and the torch is lit with another scalding
"Highway 61 revisited". Bob has flubbed her intro with something like "We
have Elana from the Hottub of Cowtown up here with us, er, from the
Hottown of club, er, the Hotclub of matters not though, the
audience gets the point and most I am sure realize where she is from. The
violin is juiced, though the first "debut" of this with her was probably a
little clearer, this song takes on a new diversion, and it is smoking hot,
the ballpark is a little clubhouse now, and the roof is blown off laying
somewhere in OZ, but three clicks of the heels ain't taking anyone home
tonight because Dorothy just woke from her dream and what a place to wake
up in. Dylan seems infatuated with Elana, or maybe he reminds her of a
Kansas girl reformation of Scarlet Rivera.  Bob rubs his crystal ball and
the flying monkeys settle down with a masterful rendition of "Trying to
get to Heaven". The skies seem to open in the darkness and you can almost
hear G-O-D whispering, "Try harder Bob, try harder Bob". The clinical
sound of the album is gone, the doctor has replaced it with true warmth
and Elana's violin is in harmony with the vocals and for a moment, all is
right in this crazy mixed up, perfect world.  The summer evening is so
warm now, and the candle is glowing, I swear it's enough to make a grown
man cry. It's Kansas so you could almost bank on hearing "Highwater" and
though I miss Larry's banjo, the song is much more powerful. Dylan and the
boys seem like they are on Noah's ark while the rest of us are swept away
with the rising waters, flooded, but life finds a way to survive and the
sins and transgressions of man are cleansed, and the white dove is
fluttering overhead, and the words are bullets in the breeze taking aim at
the souls inside us. Mr. Dylan is in fine form tonight, and the best wine
has not even been served.
The usual "Honest with me" is tearing a new one, chewing up the ballpark
like Barry Bonds and his can of Copenhagen, until the juices have
dribbled down the sides of our cheeks because there is nowhere to spit,
and who would want to? Better to swallow tonight, the black tar is like
sweet honey and the locusts have gone to bed and the silence in our
hearts is now a pounding river, crashing over the rocks, and swept
completely off our feet, immersed, and refreshed. A very tender "Ballad
of Hollis Brown" is touching us, you can hear, or at least feel the
coyote out in the distance, and the sound is just so clear. Kudos to the
folks at the venue for at least a partial attempt to appreciate the
music. "Summer Days: is blasting, as it has all tour and for most all the
shows of late, and really evident is the energy the Band expels on this
one. Bob has worked himself into a frenzy by this point each night, and
the sweat has dripped long before this song even began. On cue at the
conclusion, Bob takes center stage with Stu and Larry and George and
Tony, and glares into the madness, content that he has offered the best
he can do on any given night and daring someone to differ. They exit and
reunite within minutes, on cue, though Stu stumbles on stage as he has
been doing with a still lit cigarette hanging from his lower lip. "Like a
Rolling stone" has been done with that sort of mellowed slowed down pace,
and again, a song that has been reworked so many beautiful times that it
will never really let you down. Bob introduces the Band and George, this
time, "has been a cow farmer with cows in California with the earthquakes
and now his cows are milkshakes", but you know, Bob really does like
these little jokes, and poor George, he has to pretend they are funny
every night. Bob might want to reconsider his application for "Last Comic

Almost without finishing the intros, Bob is well into "All along the
Watchtower", and outside in the distance I think that coyote is standing
still in awe of the power and approach, complete with the little Jimmie
tribute, but absolutely wailing into the Kansas plains, almost waiting for
the gatekeeper's response, but not tonight, the show is over, and what a
show. Mr. Dylan and his band should be congratulated for their ability to
continually stroke the fires, night in and night out, and keep us wanting
for more. Only a true artist could pull this off, so again, thanks Bob,
and hope to see in you in a town near you real soon, cause I am not about
to miss it! Bob really needs to consider a little political poke or two at
George Bush, because really, there are matters more important and though
John Kerry is not the best possible candidate, George absolutely must move
on to tend to his oilfields and back to his mansion on the hill.  So,
public appeal here Bob!


Review by Anne Marvin

Maybe there's not much point in writing about the last concert of a tour,
but it seemed very special.  People loved the atmosphere of the ballpark,
and the combination of Hot Club of Cowtown,  Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan
was a very fine thing.  Everybody seemed in good spirits and put on a
great show, which was quite the deal as it went on for almost four hours. 
I've been to 8 or maybe 9 Dylan concerts over the past 30 years, and this
one was special for me.  To set the scene. . .there I was, a nice
midwestern woman at this nice midwestern ballpark, reveling in the 
glorious clear sky, rising moon and lovely late-summer breeze, while
sharing breath with a close-packed crowd of way too many other people.  I
was determined that for once, just once, I was going to see Dylan close
up, so I squiggled myself up to a point where there was just one layer of
humanity between me and the railing in front of the stage.  Oh bliss!  I
could see Willie and his folks just fine, and weren't they having a high
old time!  Maybe literally.  But then the crew changed the stage setup for
Dylan and he came out to the keyboard and I realized that my view was
almost entirely blocked by a big black evil speaker.  All I could see was
the top of a cowboy hat!  AAAAAAAAARGH!  I almost went awash in a sea of
despair, but then the irony hit and I just had to guffaw.  (Out loud. 
Crazy old coot).  So, I had the choice of; a) leaning far to the left and
watching his dancing rear end, or; b) pretzeling precariously to the
right, where I had a view of his head and shoulders and sometimes hands. 
But seeing that head and shoulders was just all right, as they were only
20 feet from mine!  Oh joy, oh slightly damaged rapture! 

Amazingly, from this vantage I could actually understand the
quickly-mumbled words emanating from the master's lips.  With the Stetson
crammed down on his greying curls, skinny face a mass of dainty wrinkles,
sweat dripping from his forehead onto the mike, he leaned down over that
keyboard and played and sang with a wrenching intensity that had us all
sighing and swooning.  Then in the middle of "Positively 4th Street,"  I
plainly heard him sing "if just one time you could stand inside my
shoe----not just one of them, but both of them. . .".  Did I really hear
that?  Well, yes, I must have, because he grinned a barely visible little
grin to himself and he and the band seamlessly patched in a few measures
and played back around to where he could try that line again.  In that
very moment lay the essence of his charm--that those fine songs, even the
reverently-worshipped classics, are alive and evolving and can take an
unexpected turn at any time, and that this clever, cranky-looking man can
laugh at and play with his own mis-speakings.  He's a sphinx all right,
but a darned funny one.  And, oh, can that band play!  

So a good time was had by all, and I got as close as I'll ever get, and
went away smiling.               

Anne Marvin
Lawrence, Kansas


Review by Stephen Darjeeling

It wasn't too hot when the Hot Club of Cowtown cranked up fiddle and bow,
vintage Gibson guitar, and upright base at the Boneyard, home of the
Kansas City T-Bones.  The crowd was beginning to pack and those poor souls
with their blankets spread out did their best to protect their staked out
turf only to find out later that there were no boundaries here.  Elena
Fremerman, a local girl, came out wearing a sparkly, flashy night club
dress that really didn't fit the scene.  That is until she sang the
sultry, sexy "Honey, do I want you, do I? Deed I do."  Then the dress fit.
It did not fit with Ida Red and most certainly did not fit with the
closing number, Orange Blossom Special.  So this was a hint at things to
come where musicians crossed over boundaries, came back, and crossed over
again, sometimes beckoning to the audience and sometimes leaving them in
the Cowtown dust.  Willie would do it on Still Is Still Movin' and Dylan
on Honest With Me.

The crowd strengthened and packed tighter for Willie Nelson's set.  A
cheer went up when it was announced that he was an official candidate for
President.  Willie was in great shape and his guitar playing was
excellent, vintage stuff even when the pain from playing was so obvious. 
A poignant Pancho and Lefty with its sorrowful tale of lost freedom and
separation was one of his best numbers. He introduced his band and two
sons: Michael ("We're not sure what he's playing back there.") and Lucas
who played a kind of klunky, space filled blues guitar.  Willie's sister,
Bobbi, on piano for the first time this tour, cranked out her usual honky
tonk tunes and bluesy solos.  Willie sang a funny song about "Me and
Paul", Paul being the drummer and how they drank so much whiskey one night
in Buffalo that they weren't really sure if they played that night or not.
Willie and the band played this night and played well.  At the end of the
set some woman threw about a 40B brassiere onto the stage and Willie hung
it on his guitar and walked off.

As the Willie set and equipment were being torn down the crowd packed
tighter and tighter.  We inched our way to within 20 feet of the stage,
right in front of Dylan's keyboard.  This would have been great if not for
the six-plus footer standing in front of me with a T-Bones hat on.  If
Willie is elected, maybe he can make a new law that makes it illegal to
wear a baseball cap backwards.  A poor older fellow tried to maintain his
six by six foot square of space marked by an old army blanket, holding out
his arms to indicate ownership of his plot.  A big old rounder stomped
right on the blanket and spilled the better part of a beer on it.  "Hey,"
the old guy said.  "Sorry," the rounder replied.  And so it was to be. 
Packed into a well of souls in the Bob Dylan mosh pit, we awaited the
master.  He was not to appear.  What appeared was an elfish man in a black
suit, hunkered down over his keyboard, looking sometimes like a gargoyle
and sometimes like a gnome.  Dylan's set was as predictable as Willie's
was, and where Willie had lost some dexterity in his hands, Dylan had lost
it in his voice.  Time after time he barked out phrases then regrouped,
relying on the band to fill in until his vocal chords recovered and then
he would bark again, often unintelligible strings of vocal sounds
interspersed with phrases of clarity. Willie came on stage with sons Lucas
and Michael who would obviously not have been there if not for dad. 
Another rounder barged in front of me with a camera violating my one
square foot of personal space (I'm used to fifteen).  He turned out to be
a pleasant fellow and I told him to take that picture of Bob and Willie
because he would probably never get another chance.  He thought Larry
Campbell looked like George Harrison.  I told him I thought Larry looked
like Groucho Marx with long hair.  He headed back into the bodies as
Willie left and was replaced by Elena who Dylan introduced by saying,
"Here she is on stage without a monitor."  She did her best, but in the
Bob Dylan mosh pit we could not hear most of her effort. We could not hear
Dylan's keyboard but we could hear some of his excellent harp playing.  We
couldn't hear Larry's pedal steel but we could hear George Receli's
excellent drumming and Stu Kimball's less than spectacular strumming. 
Honest With Me was a high point but Summer Days, which is usually a killer
was lackluster and bland in comparison to, say, Lake Tahoe in October of
2002.  Dylan introduced his band and tonight's joke was: George Receli is
a farmer in California.  He has some cows and one day there was an
earthquake that turned his cows into milkshakes.  Standard versions of
Like A Rolling Stone (I refuse to write LARS) and All Along The Watchtower
(AATW) left the crowd somewhat satisfied and with a glimmer of hope for a
last-stop-of-the-tour additional encore, but this, too, was not to be. 
Then we just let him slip away.  Out of kindness, I suppose.

Stephen Darjeeling
Louisburg KS


Comments by Toby Lutz

First up was Hot Club.  They are a self described “hot jazz and western
swing” act from Austin TX.  I took some notes and did a little internet
research and came up with a partial set list.  Some tunes played were: 
Lil’ Liza Jane, Ida Red, Chinatown, Do I Do(?)  Sally Goodin’, Forgetting
Us(?)  and with Willie:  Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone

Willie and the Family took the stage next.  Willie’s band is the same as
usual except for the addition of his two sons, Lucas and Micah (or
Knowing a little more about Willie’s songs helped me compile the following 
set list:
Living in the Promiseland
Whisky River
Still is Still Movin’ to Me
Beer for my Horses (?)
Pancho and Lefty  (song by Townes Van Zandt)  (duet w/ Jody Payne)
Time slips away (?)
Crazy> The night life ain’t no good life for me
Down Yonder (little sister Bobbie on piano)
Workin’ Man Blues (song by Merle ?) (Jody on vocals)
Help Me Make It Through the Night
Me and Bobbie McGee
Me and Paul (I guess Branson was the roughest, but I know I said the same
about ‘em all.) Texas Flood (song by Stevie Ray Vauhgn) Mama, Don’t Let
Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys Angel Flyin’ Too Close To the Ground On
the Road Again Always on My Mind Will the Circle be Unbroken I’ll Fly
Away Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain Georgia on My Mind Move it on Over Jam

Finally,  Bob Dylan and His Band
1.	Maggie’s Farm
2.	 Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You (Larry Campbell-pedal steel,
Bob-harp) 3.	Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
(Larry-acoustic, Bob-harp) 4.	Heartland (with Willie and his sons)
5.	Tweedledee and Tweedledum 6.	Positively 4th Street (Bob-harp, 
Larry-acoustic, Tony Garnier-stand-up bass) 7.	Highway 61 Revisited
(Bob-harp,  Elana Fremerman( from Hot Club)-fiddle) 8.	Tryin’ to Get to
Heaven (Larry-pedal steel, Bob-harp, Elana-fiddle) 9.	High Water (for
Charley Patton) 10.	Honest with Me (Larry-slide guitar) 11.	Ballad of
Hollis Brown (knew it was coming, still didn’t recognize it) 12.	Summer
Days (Larry & Stu-widebodied guits, Tony-stand-up bass, Tommy Koella (?)
also on elec. guit.) Encores: 13.	Like a Rolling Stone (Larry-pedal
steel)>Band intros, Bob tells a joke about cows. 14.	All Along the
Watchtower  (this version seemed stripped down, but very powerful) Notes: 
Bob on keyboard for all songs.  This set was very electric and very tight.


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