Arriving three days prior to the Bob Dylan Show, I hastily split Phoenix in a shuttle van heading north with six strangers. Our ninety-five minute jaunt featured cactus and tumbleweed and tumbleweed and cactus. We blew by Carefree Highway, and then passed a town called Bumble Bee on our way over Mingus Mountain, elevation 4000 feet. Freefalling down the backside of Mingus, somewhere near Cottonwood, the Red Rocks of Sedona beckoned on the horizon. For two days, I basked in the breathtaking beauty of Sedona as the sun illuminated the Red Rocks and shadows danced on the mesas. With my soul and spirit soaring I returned to the Valley of the Relentless Sun where Phoenix was experiencing record breaking autumn heat – 100 degrees.
Dylan performed at the Phoenix Memorial Coliseum, situated in the gut of the Arizona State Fair. I didn’t observe any advertisements for the Dylan show on the fairgrounds, it was swallowed up by the carnival hoopla: Ferris Wheel, freaks, barkers, neon lights, wild rides, candy apples, cotton candy, snow cones, Indian fry bread, Polish sausages, Cajun corn dogs. The new culinary delights were deep fried scorpions and smoked lizard on a stick.
I waltzed in around 7:06 as Dylan and His Band were concluding a Cat’s in the Well opener. The sound was thundering and the thick howl of Dylan’s voice exploded into every crevice of the coliseum, but by the time I found my seat, two more tunes expired, Lay Lady Lay and Baby Tonight. Dylan appeared like a panther in black cowboy hat and his band looked sleek in shiny black leather jackets. It was fabulous to hear and see Charlie Sexton on lead guitar, again.
Donnie let his trumpet blow as I caught my first Beyond Here Lies Nothing. Love Sick was a thrill in the sixth hole, and Charlie’s crackling leads made If You Ever Go to Houston delectable. Dylan was prancing around and jiggling behind the organ (first three songs he was on the electric gee-tar). Dylan swaggered to the center of the stage, harp in hand, and delivered an animated lead-singer production of Workingman’s Blues. He waggled his finger at the crowd as he preached the chorus, demanding his boots and shoes. Thunder on the Mountain was wild and wooly, Sexton tore it up. Staring at Thunder Mountain in Sedona for two days, I looked forward to seeing Thunder, but also realized the show was about over. Dylan wrapped up his brief fairground outing with Ballad of a Thin Man and the same old encore trifecta. Concert over at 8:30, it was obvious to this observer that Dylan had to adhere to a time slot restriction. It was a shame because he had his mojo working.
With my old NYC friend Jim and his lovely wife Susan, and a drummer named Hutch, we sucked back multiple rounds of Hoegaarden at the Loose Leaf. We headed back to Jim’s Phoenix pad where his magnificent twenty-seven pound pussycat, Rick, gave me the creeps and an evil eye all night. Apparently, Rick has attacked two guests before leaving behind a bloody trail and one black eye. I was eyeing my 100th Dylan show in Vegas the following night, so I fed Rick treats until 2:00 PM and petted him with tender care. I’m pleased to report that I’m at The Mirage enjoying a Champagne Buffet Brunch at this very moment.