Music from BIG PINK (Arne Wendt, Bob Burger, Sal Boyd, Glen Burtnik) is on the bill, as Pat Guadagno (right) saddles up his Tired Horse for the 17th annual Dylan’s birthday celebration concert BOBFEST, Thursday night at the Count Basie.
They’ll be bringing the Bob – as they have each year since 1999, when Jersey Shore “saloon singer” supreme Pat Guadagno first offered an impromptu birthday toast to his musical hero Bob Dylan, during a set at the old Downtown Café.
When the benefit tribute concert known as Bobfest takes the stage of the Count Basie Theatre for its 17th annual edition Thursday, it’ll also be bringing the Band – the legendary combo that collaborated with Dylan on some of the master’s most epochal recordings and tours, and whose own spun-off career climaxed with the milestone Last Waltz concert and film in the late 1970s. More to the point, they’ll be bringing Big Pink, the Band tribute project that unites globetrotting Jersey rock ambassador Glen Burtnik with frequent collaborators Bob Burger, Arne Wendt and Sal Boyd for a set that conjures the best time-tested tunes from Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm and company.
This marks the fourth consecutive visit for the Bobfest event at Basie’s place, since the concert outgrew the 350-seat mainstage auditorium of Two River Theater. And when Guadagno reconvenes his “Tired Horse” band of Shore music stalwarts for the 8 pm performance, he’ll be picking up a newly minted tradition that made its debut at last year’s event.
As Pat and friends (a group that’s historically included Mary McCrink, Rich Oddo, Andy McDonough, Phil ”Red River” Rizzo, Yuri Turchin and Rene Woolley) did in 2014 with the classic albums The Times They Are a-Changin’ and Another Side of Bob Dylan, they’ll be celebrating the golden anniversary of two other Dylan game-changers originally released in 1965: Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. Packed with many of the most in-your-face undisputed masterpieces from the Dylan catalog (“Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “Maggie’s Farm,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” “It’s Alright, Ma,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue,” “Highway 61 Revisited”), the albums blazed with a hyperconfident energy, straddling the electrified fence between “folk” and “rock” to the extent that neither would ever truly be the same again.
While the American original – who turns 74 years “Forever Young” this Sunday – has never made a surprise appearance at Bobfest (although one could imagine an incognito Bard of Hibbing, Minnesota peeping in from outside, as he did during that now-infamous incident in Long Branch from several years back), his spirit will hover over the affair, even more than his signature sound. As we wrote in this space two years ago (a description considered so spot-on that we couldn’t possibly say it any better here in 2015):
with a genial old Jersey Shore casual style, and a physical presence that evokes David Crosby more than it does the dour Dylan, Guadagno neither looks nor sounds the part of a ‘Legends In Concert’ lounge-act impostor – a fact that’s allowed the seasoned interpreter of classic pop songwriters to put his own spin on the Bob songbook, snatching harmony and melody from the jaws of Dylan’s own sinusy sing-speak and raggedy arrangements.
A collection of “Bob Dylan artwork and memorabilia” will be on display in the Count Basie lobby for the duration of the evening, and for the 12th consecutive year, Guadagno will donate a portion of the Bobfest proceeds to the Anthony X. Guadagno Rock and Roll Music Fund, a scholarship named for his late brother and longtime bass player that allows young New Jersey musicians to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
Tickets for Bobfest 2015 are priced at $19.50 – $39.50 and can be reserved right here — and you can catch Pat flying solo every Monday night, continuing a longstanding Red Bank tradition at Jamian’s Food and Drink.