Bob Dylan to return to Tanglewood for July 2 concert


LENOX — Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan returns to Tanglewood this summer for his first performance there in 19 years.

Dylan, 74, on a program with rhythm and blues/gospel singer Mavis Staples, 76, join the robust roster of Popular Artists bookings for a just-announced concert set for Saturday, July 2.

As one of the most honored and influential musicians and lyricists of the past 55 years, Dylan continues his "Never Ending Tour" that began in 1988. Until recently, he and his band were on the road for more than 100 performances a year.

Dylan made his Tanglewood debut in 1991 and returned in 1997. But his Berkshire roots go back to the beginning of his career, when he joined Joan Baez in a storied performance at Pittsfield's Boys Club on Aug. 14, 1963. He performed again with Baez in 1975 at the Dream Away Lodge in Becket.

Reviewing the Boys Club concert, The Eagle's entertainment editor Milton Bass wrote: "His voice is not a pretty one, his guitar playing is just plain old banging away, but there is an intensity about him, a dedication, that forces one's attention where it belongs."

On that occasion, Dylan sang three of his best-known early songs: "Only a Pawn in Their Game," "Blowin' in the Wind," and "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall."

In the summers of 2005 and 2006, he appeared at Wahconah Park, attracting about 10,000 and 6,000 fans respectively.

Dylan, performing with guitar, harmonica and keyboards, gained fame during the 1960s civil rights and antiwar protest years as folk music gained renewed popularity, but he segued into pop and rock with "Like a Rolling Stone," a six-minute single in 1965 that became a top-selling hit for 10 weeks, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard chart behind The Beatles' "Help!"

Among his early influences were Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams and Little Richard. But over the past 50 years, he has spanned a wide range of musical genres beyond folk and rock, including blues, country, English, Scottish and Irish folk music, and occasional forays into jazz and pop standards.

Credited with total record sales of more than 100 million albums, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2012. Other honors include 11 Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.

Dylan's most recent album, "Shadows in the Night" came out a year ago. It featured 10 pop standards that had been recorded by Frank Sinatra. It was Dylan's 36th studio release.

He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was cited in 2007 by the Pulitzer Prize jury for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."

Over the past 20 years, he has published six books of drawings and paintings, and he has exhibited works at major art galleries.

Last week, Dylan sold his 6,000-item personal archive of master recordings, videos, notes, draft lyrics, poems, artwork and photographs to the University of Tulsa, where they will be made available to scholars and curated for public exhibitions. According to The New York Times, the collection fetched between $15 million and $20 million.

In 1950, Mavis Staples first performed publicly with her family's group, The Staple Singers. In 2011, she won her first Grammy award for "You Are Not Alone." In her acceptance speech, the shocked performer wept as she told the cheering audience: "This has been a long time coming."

The same year, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Her latest album, "Livin' on a High Note," was released last month.

Other Popular Artists events this summer include season opener Earth, Wind & Fire (June 18), Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson performing the entire "Pet Sounds" album (June 19), Jackson Browne (June 21), A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor in his final live appearance as host (June 27), the Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration with guitarist Warren Haynes (July 1), James Taylor (July 3 and 4), Train with Andy Grammer (Aug. 23) and The B-52s with the Boston Pops (Sept. 2).

NPR's "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" returns to record a broadcast on Sept. 1.

Tickets for Earth, Wind & Fire, Browne, Train and The B-52s go on sale at 10 a.m. March 14. All previously announced concerts are currently on sale.

If you go ...

What: Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan with guest artist Mavis Staples

When: 7 p.m. July 2

Where: Tanglewood

Tickets: 10 a.m. March 18 at or 1-888-266-1200; $37.50 to $149.50


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