Hudson Valley Musicians Toast Bob Dylan’s Desire

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

(Photo: John Kramer)

What’s the best Bob Dylan album of all time? Sure, it’s easy to pick Highway 61 Revisited or The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Blood On The Tracks is not bad either), but for the Dylan freak who’s heard everything, it just might be Desire.

The 1976 tour de force marks the line between classic Dylan and the rest of his output, and features the incredible alchemy of backing vocalist Emmylou Harris, violinist Scarlet Rivera, bassist Rob Stoner, and drummer Howard Wyeth. It opens with the eight-and-a-half minute long long protest anthem “Hurricane,” and ends with the five-and-a-half minute long autobiographical weeper “Sara.” Along the way, there’s gems like the murder ballad/love song “Isis,” the haunted gypsy-like traveling tune “One More Cup of Coffee,” and the Spanish fiesta of “Romance In Durango.”

Last weekend, a cabal of musicians from New York’s Hudson Valley, calling themselves Backwoods Jupiter, banded together to celebrate the release of Backwoods Jupiter Presents Bob Dylan’s Desire, a tribute album to Dylan’s 17th solo effort.

The band is comprised of Fred Gillen, Jr., Matt Turk, Steve Kirkman, Tadd Kroneck, Debbie Tuzman, Elliott Glick, Curtis Schmidt, Phil Dollard, Eric Puente, Scott Urgola, Paul Silverman and tribute organizer Julie Corbalis. They all appeared at The Cove in Peekskill on January 29 to perform their contributions to the album in front of a filled-to-capacity, highly appreciative house.

“People reacted to the show with great enthusiasm and love,” says Matt Turk. “They were in a state of Dylan fandomonium!”

Adds Curtis Schmidt: “I think the audience was initially a bit shocked and surprised by the large number of musicians and the quality of the music. They quickly grew more and more enthusiastic as they were led deeper into our renderings of songs that we all have in our collective memory. Their mood at the finish was exuberant and triumphant; the house was packed until the last note was played.”

But was it hard to remember all those lyrics, and to sing in Dylan-ese? Says Phil Dollard: “I think we all sang in our own voices since to try to sing in Zimmie’s nasal twang always ends up as caricature. Memorization is easy; you just run the lines through your head a thousand times. It’s the story songs from Desire that require stepping into a character, like an actor.”

To get yourself a copy of Backwoods Jupiter Presents Bob Dylan’s Desire, and see pics from the show, head to the band’s site at http://backwoodsjupiter.com.

3 Comments

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  1. This sounds fantastic. Wish I could have been there.
    I think Desire is a fantastic album. There are so many people who put it and so many other Dylan albums down because they are NOT blonde on blonde or Highway 61 etc. I recently re-discovered Street Legal which had been languishing on the shelf for years- I was astounded at how great that album is. the lyrics are incredible and Dylan sings with such passion. I went back and read some old reviews and found them so off base as to be ludicrous- just reactionary twaddle. Yeah, Bob was doing something new with backup singers and big full sound and production- doesn’t he always forge ahead despite the risks.
    IMHO no matter what he does his worst is better than best.

    well- whatever- this sounds like a great album. going to go over and check it out.

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