Triplex to hold exclusive screening of Bob Dylan film
Bob Dylan embarked on the Rolling Thunder Revue tour to give fans a more intimate experience, traveling with a star-studded eponymous backing band that included Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Joni Mitchell and Ramblin' Jack Elliott, among many others. So, it's fitting that one of the only screenings of Martin Scorsese's new documentary about the tour will take place at the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington on Tuesday, June 11.
The screening, which begins at 7 p.m., is presented by the Triplex and the Berkshire International Film Festival, with an audience Q&A moderated by Seth Rogovoy, the author of "Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet," who will help bring context to the tour and its events, themes and references. Though it'll be on Netflix the next day, the Triplex is one of only a few theaters to screen the documentary the night before it's available to stream.
The fall 1975 tour mostly stopped in smaller venues in New England, followed by a leg covering the American South and Southwest in spring 1976. Some of the locations were offbeat — civic centers, small theaters, prisons, etc.
"It really stands out as a unique rock tour in the entire history of the rock era," Rogovoy said. "It was, to some extent, a low-key, rambling, carnival-like road show. These were four- or five-hour concerts full of a whole panoply of guest artists ... In some ways, what Dylan did was to recreate on stage what was happening in the Greenwich Village folk scene in 1962 and '63."
Baez and Dylan dueted on the tour, which hadn't been seen since that era; Arlo Guthrie played that night in Springfield; Joni Mitchell apparently enjoyed one show so much she stayed on for the final days of the tour's northern leg. "Added to this was the creativity of the shows," Rogovoy said.
1975 was a fertile time for Dylan — he released "Blood on the Tracks" and was rehearsing songs that would end up on his 1976 record "Desire," including "Hurricane," about the wrongfully convicted boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. The shows were also theatrical — Dylan was known to appear in a Nixon mask, or in whiteface.
Rogovoy, whose book unpacks the connections to Judaism in Dylan's lyrics, said this was a theme: "He's played with the idea of masks and used them on stage and in song through his entire career." References to masks appear in his lyrics, and he directed and starred in the 2003 movie "Masked and Anonymous."
Dylan fans may recognize some of the footage that was shot during the tour's stop between Springfield and Burlington, Vt., during which they stayed at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge and visited the Dream Away Lodge in Becket. (A lot of that footage also showed up in Dylan's own documentary of the tour, "Renaldo and Clara," produced in 1978.)
Rogovoy said he's looking forward to seeing what Scorcese does with the footage, plus interviews and what's being touted by producers as chronicling "the troubled spirit of America in 1975 and the joyous music that Dylan performed during the fall of that year."
He said he does feel confident the Dream Away is going to make it in — he's been following trailers and interviews with the producers and a scene from Renaldo and Clara seems to match up.
"Whatever they are officially saying about it, I'm trying to put the pieces together," he said. "They're dropping clues and hints, and I know what's available."
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