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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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Friday, February 11, 2011


So. Bob is going to perform not just on the same bill as, but actually with, Mumford & Sons at the Grammys. Here's what the Mumfords say on their own blog:

Said awards show is of course the Grammys where, we can now reveal, Mumford and Sons will be performing alongside the Avett Brothers and, *deep breath*, Bob Dylan. As for the song they shall be performing, however, that remains a secret behind our strict vow of silence, so you’ll have to tune in to find out...
America! You can catch the broadcast on CBS, February 13th at 8PM ET/PT. 
UK! You can watch 2 hours of highlights on ITV2, Ferbuary 16th from 10pm.
Lucky UK...

It will be fascinating to hear Dylan with another band, especially one so much fresher than his own. It's just unfortunate for me that it has to be Mumford & Sons: I seem to be the only person in the western world who hates the singer's voice. He sounds like a petulant sheep to me.


Anonymous Kieran said...

"I seem to be the only person in the western world who hates the singer's voice. He sounds like a petulant sheep to me."

Funny you should say that, because just the other day I actually heard a petulant sheep and they sounded better than you'd think - and much better than Mumford & Sons! But I agree with you, it's going to be interesting to hear Bob play with a younger band.

But...this is a great opportunity missed! Why wasn't Bob paired with Dr Dre, who's going to play with Eminem? Seriously! I think with Dre's tough beats and Bob's growl, they could make something truly wierd but also beautiful and unique...

2:55 pm  
Anonymous Carl said...

Hi Michael
Im still dubious that they will share the same stage. i think its wishful thinking to be honest. The statement from Mumford and Sons website doesn't necessarily say they are going to preform as a collaboration. I have a feeling that when they say "alongside", they mean alongside within the same show.
It would be really exciting to see Bob perform with a younger and fresher band, as you said.
I for one, am totally fed up with the live shows at the moment. The "Do re mi" and "White House" performances were a glimmer of hope as to what could be.
lets hope that with or without Mumford and his kids, Bob gives us something special.

3:35 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I seem to be the only person in the western world who hates the singer's voice."

Ah, I am not alone!


10:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Bob as much as anyone, but could not his voice be compared to any manner of ornery mammals? I think this could be great - if not for the song itself, at least for the awesome awkwardness Bob displays whenever he braves a performance such as this. I for one love the look of "why did I agree to this?" that invariably accompanies these performances. Then again, I'm drunk right now.

12:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "LA Times" said that it is going to be three separate performances by Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers and then Bob Dylan forming a thematically linked "suite". The theme apparently being "acoustic music". I hope Dylan is not going to perform "with" any of the two bands mentioned but with his own band. Furthermore the Grammy people probably want him to do something like "Hard Rain". I would love him to play a recent song like the great "Beyond Here Like Nothing", which is actually nominated for a Grammy this year as part of the "True Blood" soundtrack.

1:55 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Drunk or not, this is a nicely phrased comment you make: "I think this could be great - if not for the song itself, at least for the awesome awkwardness Bob displays whenever he braves a performance such as this. I for one love the look of "why did I agree to this?" that invariably accompanies these performances."

Indeed. I wrote something similar in The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia in the entry on Keith Richards, in describing Dylan's performance at the Seville Guitar Legends Festival in 1991: "he and Keith, backed by a posse of musicians, performed the early R&B/rock’n’roll classic ‘Shake, Rattle & Roll’, sharing vocals. It was a gift to Dylan: he went into one of his classic guesting-on-stage routines, a masterly piece of theatre that can be savoured on the film footage, on which he mimes faultlessly the high comedy of making out that he’s woken to find himself on stage with certifiable lunatics it might be best to humour (Keith & co.) and has never heard anything as mystifying as ‘Shake, Rattle & Roll’ in his life."

So I hope to see him looking mystified by Mumford & Sons, though as other comments suggest, such a collaboration may not actually happen.

3:03 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

One of the members of the Avett Brothers tweeted Friday that he had rehearsed with Dylan for an hour or so, describing the event as 'surreal'. Sounds like this is going to happen...

3:11 pm  
Blogger Justin Hamm said...

I actually think he will be performing "with" these two bands. The Avett Brothers facebook update yesterday said they were practicing "with" Bob Dylan and Mumford and Sons, which I took to mean everybody practicing together at the same time.

3:34 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Good news, AndoDoug and Justin - thanks for letting us know!

4:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, Bob plays with yet another over-rated band. Mumford and Sons are awful. What is he thinking?

4:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like Bob has let go most inhibitions as to where and what to perform, endorsing 'acoustic music' for chrissakes, it's more than 45 years since he played acoustic music!

5:57 pm  
Blogger Matt Groneman said...

I believe that Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons will perform separately -- the songs they play were announced somewhere -- and then they will back Dylan up on a song, but which song has not yet been revealed.

6:10 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

To the last Anonymous: that's not really true, you know. He made two acoustic albums in the 1990s, and often performed on acoustic guitar in the early years of the Never-Ending Tour. I don't see what's wrong with his "endorsing 'acoustic music'. Rather that than endorsing Cadillac, Victoria's Secret and the Bank of Montreal.

6:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is an opportunity missed. I'm not a fan of Mumford & Son. They spoiled the recent Old Crow show in London where they came on as "special guests" & couldn't hold a candle to the David Rawlings Machine who were the "support act." Mumford & Sons simply don't hae it in them to do anything which compares with their version of Queen Jane Approximately.

7:58 pm  
Anonymous Clifford Fry said...

Hi Michael -
I attended an Eoonomics conference shortly after getting my Ph.D. in 1972. When I entered the convenience store part of the hotel there was your book Song and Dance Man. Other than when I had to present my paper I attended no other sessions. I hung out each day in the coffee shop or bar and read your book during the conference. I loved it, and have loved the ones since then, That was also the best economics conference trip I have had. :-)
Best wishes from a fan from Texas.

10:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A) I'm more excited to see The Avett Brothers with Dylan than Mumford and Sons, but I still like Mumford.

B) I've heard they rehearsed Maggie's Farm together the past two days for the performance.

4:36 am  
Anonymous Carl said...

that youtube video i just sent you has already been taken down. try this link for the soundcheck video

also a rehearsal photo

5:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They rehearsed "Maggie's Farm". Bob with Stu Kimball, Donnie Herron and Tony Garnier and all of Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers. Cool version.

2:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The performance of Maggie's was a bit on the shambolic side.... Way too many musicians cluttering the sound, Bob's mic not working at the start and a really poor vocal. It does get better on repeated viewings but not much...The best that can be said is there is an undeniable energy to the proceedings.

A pity because his vocal (even in recent times) can be better than that. A bit worrying that even with the touring break, the voice still feels like its shot beyond repair.

Of interest was the fact that Charlie Sexton was not there and that another guitarist not from either of the folk bands was beside Stu, Tony and Donnie. Could that suggest a touring change for April?



1:50 pm  
Anonymous Kieran said...

Hey Michael,

Did you watch this? I ahven't seen it yet, but the reviews are mixed to favourable, I'd say...

11:16 am  

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