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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Last Saturday, Oct 28: first visit to a Bob Dylan Convention in the UK since 1991. Back then, Sarah and I went to Leicester, and small daughter Magdalena got up and played harmonica at the end of Steve Gibbons' set. This time it was Northampton, and Magdalena, now 18, wasn't there. Had she been, she could have got up on stage with Scarlet Rivera, Winston Watson and Rob Stoner. The only person on the scene missing was the Jack of Hearts. Bizarre to hear these three fine musicians marooned in a Dylan Tribute Band but it's a temporary gig; they all know they need to return to proper bands, and I'm sure they will. The interplay between drummer Watson and bassist Stoner is especially good, and good-humoured. Sarah says they should get together with Steve Forbert and be his band, to the benefit of all.

Meanwhile it was a pleasure to meet them. Scarlet gave me some much-needed extra background info for a future update of her Bob Dylan Encyclopedia entry, and the others were generous in enthusing about their existing entries.

It was good too to meet up with the usual suspects, including Derek & Tracy Barker, Andy Muir, Joe McShane, Jim Heppell, David Bristow, Duncan Hume, Jeff Gitter and Patrice Hamilton. Our very old friend David Willis was around for most of the day too, having had the event recommended to him by his brother Bob (the cricketer who, back in 1987, contributed a piece about his own enthusiasm for Dylan to the book All Across The Telegraph: A Bob Dylan Handbook).

It was also a fine afternoon for selling not only the Encyclopedia but also copies of Song & Dance Man III, promo postcards and even our specially-commissioned limited-edition t-shirts, and equally for being able to meet, at the stall, a number of people who said they'd enjoyed my work over the years. It's always gratifying, after the solitary labour of sitting at the computer, to get out and meet the people who actually pick up your books and read them and take the trouble to say so. Feedback in the opposite sense from that thrown out by the sound system when Scarlet, Winston and Rob were on stage.


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