The Block Island Times

Bob Dylan, Redux

Aug 03, 2013

A couple of months back there was a piece of mail for me in the Point Judith freight office. It had been sent to me in care of The Block Island Times. The return address was West Tisbury, Martha’s Vineyard. After my shift ended, I opened up the package and was taken aback; actually, pretty dumbstruck by the contents. Inside were two signed photographs with a common copyright. Immediate questions arose as to how I was now in possession of these powerful images.

A few weeks before I received the package from the Vineyard, The Block Island Times ran a column of mine, “Going electric with Bob Dylan in Newport.” In this piece I talked about how I’d snuck in to see Bob Dylan in 1965 when he went “electric,” and got booed by a few folks. Also, the piece dealt with how I’d snuck in to see him at Fort Adams in 2002. It was a fun memory to write, and it is nice to still be able to pull these things out of the vaults and scribble them out for the paper. In addition to those Dylan shows, I spoke of the show Mr. Bobby Dylan played at the old Rhode Island auditorium in October of 1965. That was a performance for the ages. Dylan charted his course for a long musical career from the gig in Newport, and it was now, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” The show at the Rhode Island auditorium had many dynamics going on that I wasn’t aware of — at all.

Dylan did two sets that night. He performed, along with several other acoustic songs, a version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” with an acoustic guitar and rack harmonica. He also did an amazing version of “She Belongs to Me.” He wore a rig like the Beatles and Rolling Stones were wearing at the time: suit jacket, pegged pants, Cuban heel boots, and a tie. The crowd embraced Dylan’s set with total abandon. The guy just nailed his songs. After his set, lights down, he left the stage. Twenty minutes later the lights came back up, and there was a band with him. They were all dressed in suits also. This was a group of musicians referred to as “The Hawks,” but they would soon come to be called “The Band.”

Being a clueless freshman in high school, I had no idea what I was watching from my seat. The Rhode Island auditorium was a hockey arena, so the seating allowed people to be directly behind the band. This was my vantage point when these guys tore into “Tom Thumb’s Blues.” The Hammond B3 organ intro of that song is just brilliant stuff. This group of guys backing Dylan consisted of Robbie Robertson on electric guitar and vocals, Garth Hudson on keyboards, Rick Danko also on guitar and vocals, and Richard Manual played piano, drums, sax and he sang also. The only band member not playing that gig was Levon Helm. Let me tell you, it was a night to remember! Now, what about those photographs you may ask.

That same night there was a guy who was a Rhode Island School of Design student from Providence’s East Side. His name is Ed Grazda. Ed took these shots. I got in touch with Ed on the Vineyard, and thanked him for the photographs which are now framed in glass in my office. I asked Ed, how he came to read my article from The Block Island Times. Somehow the article ended up on Dylan’s official website; how it got there, I’ll never know. Finally, I crunched out a couple of blogs about Dylan’s spring gig at University of Rhode Island, and they also ended up on Mr. Bobby Dylan’s website.

The wonders of cyberspace, huh?

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