Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Barb Jungr Returns Man in the Long Black Coat to New York

Barb Jungr, the fabulous British singer, is back in New York City to perform her widely-acclaimed Bob Dylan show, Man in the Long Black Coat, at the elegant Metropolitan Room for a three-week run starting on April 10th. Barb's unique interpretations of Bob's songs are absolutely Dylanesque. On her latest CD, Man In The Long Black Coat, Jungr seamlessly mixes Dylan's best known songs with offbeat offerings like "Trouble in Mind," "Sara," and "High Water."
Jungr reconstructs "Trouble in Mind," slowly building it from something that sounds like Peggy Lee's "Fever" to a resounding and inspiring gospel hymn—the type of performance that can only be pulled off by an artist that understands the subtleties and nuances of Dylan's rarest compositions. Her rendition of "Man in the Long Black Coat" is sublime. In one verse she snarls like Dylan, then her voice soars like Joan Baez. The arrangement captures the suspenseful tone of Dylan's original with dynamic, rich texture.
In addition to her ten-year affair with Dylan's oeuvre, Jungr is known for her daring interpretations of compositions by Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, David Byrne, Neil Diamond, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley. Jungr is a dazzling live performer who delivers an indefinable X-factor with each show. This style mirrors what Dylan does with his own songs in concert.
Time Out New York rated Man in the Long Black Coat the top cabaret show of 2011. Adam Feldman wrote, "The extraordinary English singer didn't just cover Bob Dylan's songs, she uncovered them and discovered them with exuberant musical insight."
If you love Bob Dylan's music, or if you love the thrill of a great live performance, Barb Jungr's show is a must see. Barb serves up the all the iconic songs with fresh twists: "Like A Rolling Stone," The Times They Are A-Changin'," It Ain't Me Babe," "Blind Willie McTell." Man in the Long Black Coat performs a total of 15 times: Tues-Fri April 10, 11, 12, 13, all at 7pm; Sat April 14 at 9:30; Tues-Fri April 17, 18, 19, 20, all at 7pm; Sat April 21 at 9:30pm; Tues-Fri April 24, 25, 26, 27, all at 7pm; Sat April 28 at 9:30pm. The music charge is $25, plus a two-drink minimum.
For reservations call 212/206-0440 or order online
For those attending the shows on Saturday, April 14th and April 21st, join Barb and prominent Bob Dylan experts for two intimate pre-show Fireside Chats at 8 PM. The shows start at 9:30.There's no additional charge for the Fireside Chats for the first 30 persons who purchase their tickets online. Just use the password Dylanchat .
In addition to meeting Barb, you'll be able to participate in revealing stories, gossip, and gospel with Q 104's KEN DASHOW (April 14) , Dylan author Howard Weiner (April 14 & 21), and another special guest who will be announced for April 21st.

People don't live or die/ People just float
She gone with the man in the long black coat

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Facebook Induced Flashback: Alpine to Ohio

A friend posted this photo on Facebook today. This is the earliest known photo of me on tour. Doug Schmell is on the left, Howard "Catfish" Weiner on the right. It's 6-25-85 and we're at the River Bend Music Theatre in Cincinati prior to a Grateful Dead concert. Here's an excerpt from Chapter Six of my road memoir: Tangled Up in Tunes: Ballad of a Dylanhead.


Grateful Interventions…A preview of the 1985 NBA Draft in the style of Moses Malone…The pros and cons of hitchhikers…Sweating bullets in Cincinnati…Ominous clouds in Buffalo…The party’s over at RFK…

The Alpine shows were tight, welcomed consistency after the Helter Skelter Spring tour. On the second night, the “Saint of Circumstance” jam raged, and The Boys opened the second set with the Derek and the Dominoes classic, “Keep on Growing,” featuring Phil Lesh on lead vocals. Lesh had recently emerged from a ten-year singing hiatus. A new Deadhead chant was born: “Let Phil sing.” I wanted to chant: “Bad idea.” The beloved bassist, who wore tie-dyes and looked like a chemist, had a distinct vocal style—awful as can be. This didn’t matter to Deadheads. Tight-knit crowds crave simplistic mantras to chant. In Yankee Stadium they yell, “Boston sucks,” and in the Boston Garden they holler, “Beat L.A.” When Phil Lesh sang, I cringed.

June 23, 1985, was a travel day. Our crew fiddled around Lake Geneva all day and then started the journey towards Cincinnati by sundown. We picked up a hitchhiking Deadhead who looked like a young Rodney Dangerfield in a Hawaiian shirt. His name was Steve Miller. His sticky bud made us fly like eagles, and his stinky feet made us roll down the windows. We had an intervention and ordered him to put his boots in the trunk. Doug’s Alpine Masters sounded sensational as I pressed on for five hours before pulling over to sleep in an Indiana service area.

Sunshine was beating upon my forehead as I awoke in the front seat of my Chevy. My clothes were heavy with perspiration, and I was steaming like a burrito that had been slowly baking all night. Doug was snoring and schvitzing in the back seat. Steve Miller restlessly rolled on the trunk. Phil and Paul had been napping in sleeping bags on the grass, but I found them having coffee in the cafeteria. Their sleeping quarters were invaded by a bivouac of ants at dawn.
The mid-morning heat was relentless, and there wasn’t a cloud over the Midwest. Our spirits were bolstered again as we headed down the highway with the AC cranking. We reached the River Bend Music Theatre at noon, way too soon—we had seven hours to kill on a 100-degree day.
“Iko Iko,” the righteous party song, kicked-off the second set. Behind the stage, a steamboat slowly sailed up the Ohio River. Look out, mama, there’s a white boat coming up the river. The enormous Grateful Dead twentieth celebration banner dropped down behind the band as they slammed into “Samson & Delilah.” River Bend buzzed below the setting sun.

For their Twentieth Anniversary concerts in Berkeley, the Dead broke out “Cryptical Envelopments,” an Anthem of the Sun beauty that had been sitting on the shelf since 1970. In Cincinnati we were treated to a Cryptical Loop:  Cryptical Envelopments  -> Drums -> Space -> Come A Time -> The Other One -> Cryptical Envelopments. A la 1985, Garcia’s voice crackled through this segment, but the loving intent was palpable.

Driving away from River Bend, I gushed about Garcia’s nifty fretwork on “Let It Grow.” Had I been looking at road signs, I might have been warned about the winding pavement that veered sharply to the right. Without time to stomp on the brakes, I snapped the wheel to my right in a desperate attempt to save myself and my crew from flying off the mountainside. The tires screeched louder than a bullhorn, and my Chevy Caprice was airborne—cups, cans, tapes, pipes, and sunglasses in orbit. I stuck the landing on the road like a gold medal skier in the downhill, still cruising at a 60 MPH clip. My crew was silenced with acute shock syndrome. 

Tangled Up in Tunes is available at This 1978 Chevy Caprice is a dead ringer for my tour mobile.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thank You John Hammond

Happy Anniversary Bob!
I'm out here a thousand miles from my home
Walkin' a road other men have gone down
 Few men have walked down as many roads as Bob Dylan. Those lines sung at the beginning of "Song to Woody" capture the essence of the twenty year-old artist, and as Dylan prepares to launch the twenty-fifth year of his Never Ending Tour in Brazil next month, those words still ring true. Dylan's got that restless fever burning in his brain 50 years after his debut album for Columbia Records was released on March 19, 1962.

Fortunately, John Hammond had the audacity to sign an unproven folk talent to a major label, because this self-titled album gives us yet another side of Dylan. With its breathless mixture of folk and blues, the album is a snapshot of an artist in a state of becoming at breakneck speed. In those days Dylan did everything quick. He thought quick, sang quick, learned quick, played quick and recorded quick. Bob Dylan was recorded in two sessions in November 1961.

 "Song to Woody" is the masterpiece that emerged from those sessions. Oddly, this fabulous tribute never made an appearance on any of Dylan's  greatest hits albums. It's one of the first songs that Bob wrote, but it's the heartfelt performance that makes "Song to Woody" come alive. The singing is honest and attentive. This is a twenty year-old kid paying tribute to his dying idol straight from the heart. It has a timeless feel. A heightened sense of excitement strikes me every time I hear it. In that regard it reminds me of "Mr. Tambourine Man."
"You're No Good," the opening track of Bob Dylan, is a freewheeling blues blast that sets up "Talkin' New York," Dylan's account on his first year in The City. In reality, New York was very kind to Dylan, but that doesn't work in the talkin' blues format. However, through his own experience, Dylan tuned into the universal struggle of the hungry artist arriving on the island of  Manhattan. Whether it was his intention or not, Dylan already had a knack for expressing thoughts for the "countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse."

The rest of the album is a hoot. Dylan's singing and harp playing on "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" is delightful. I hear shades of what's to come  on Nashville Skyline. On "Highway 51" we hear the classic blues riff that Dylan would use on "It's Alright Ma." Throughout this record Dylan's passion for the blues is on display, a passion that would dominate every album since Time Out of Mind."House of the Rising Sun" and "Man of Constant Sorrow" are  intense performances that confirm Dylan was a master student of American Roots music at the age of twenty.

 Happy anniversary Bob! Thank you John Hammond.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Feel Like A Stranger

3-9-81 My first show 31 years ago today

Three months after John Lennon was gunned down by a madman, I hopped on a bus headed from the Nanuet Mall to the Port Authority. Howdy New York, howdy Grateful Dead. My first show was a blockbuster, although I didn't realize it then. I walked into MSG as Jerry ripped his way through a most exotic Feel Like a Stranger jam. Althea was next followed by a long blues jam after which, Weir screamed, C.C.C...C.C. Rider, Hi! I was vaguely familiar with these songs, but I hit pay dirt with "Ramble On Rose," a rousing version of my favorite tune. Garcia's guitar screeched and  squealed, tuned into an unusual frequency, for just this night. I couldn't appreciate the nuance at the time for it was my debut as a critic.

From the third tier, sitting next to me were my non-Deadhead high school friends who were sleeping. I was confused by quick-picking numbers like Deep Elem, El Paso, and Birdsong. The set ended most abruptly with a hot Minglewood. Very strange. We also had tainted weed, the kind that gives you a headache, makes you cough, but doesn't get you right.

During the second set, I identified  China Cat >Rider > Samson, Estimated, UJB, Good Lovin' and U.S. Blues, but I couldn't  connect with the never ending spiral jams. That was a shame because the Grateful Dead would never play a hotter Cat > Rider. The Cat is long and wonderfully understated, and the Rider seethes,  but I'd yet to crack the Dead language barrier. After worshipping the tapes a few months later, I also realized that Stranger, Althea and Rose were all time great versions.

Well at least I was there. It twas a legendry night in the Garden.
Tangled Up in Tunes available at

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Best of Dylan in the Style of Garcia

Jerry's Top Ten Dylan Covers

1. Tough Mama Legion of Mary 7-4-75
2. Tangled Up in Blue JGB 5-28-83
3. All Along the Watchtower GD 3-26-88
4. Quinn the Eskimo GD 12-31-85
5. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry Jerry and Merl 2-6-72
6. Positively 4th Street JGB 12-21-79
7. It's All Over Now Baby Blue GD 4-12-83
8. When I Paint My Masterpiece JGB 2-29-80
9. Desolation Row GD 9-23-87
10. Simple Twist of Fate JGB 8-11-84 

Tangled  Up in Tunes Facebook Page

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hampton Here We Come!

Excerpt from Chapter Four of Tangled Up in Tunes

 The Music Never Stopped

Seagulls with massive wingspans glided around us; other seagulls were perched on the rail preparing for takeoff.  Brilliant sunshine bounced off the Chesapeake Bay as the Dead thundered in my Chevy. Doug rocked back and forth—a devotee in a contented trance. As the velocity, pitch, and poignancy of Jerry’s guitar intensified, Doug’s mug glowed–stunned admiration. Pointing at the tape deck as if Garcia was in our presence, Doug said, “This is deranged. How does Jerry think of this stuff?”

I wondered when we might see land again. We’d been on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for fifteen minutes, and there was just water, road and birds ahead and water, road and birds behind. I was driving straight into an Alfred Hitchcock sequel. It then occurred to me that I was, in fact, driving. I was so stoned I forgot I was captain of the ship.

There were three hipsters in my backseat—Doug’s Deadhead companions from SUNY Albany—Stempel, Genowa and Beehaw. They were quiet cats. Their very names seemed to do all the talking for them. Our destination was Hampton, Virginia: Waffle House, Holiday Inn, hippie chicks, Grateful Dead. Paradise Waits.
Hampton was usually the first stop on the Grateful Dead’s spring tour. For some people, spring begins when the first pitch is tossed from the mound at Yankee Stadium. For Doug and me, and thousands of other Deadheads, crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge signified the commencement of spring.

There are few pleasures commensurate to roaring down the road while the tunes are-a-thundering. Audio transcendence is possible as long as your car can rev up to seventy without rattling, and the windows are rolled up. Yes, the windows must be sealed to bounce the sound around so you eardrums are filled with nothing but rhythm and melody. You breathe in guitar and exhale staccato bursts of air, in an attempt to echo the singers. The bass rattles your bones as the organ sweeps through the pores of your skin. A tiny portion of our brains can handle driving while all this goes down. Accessing that nugget of my mind, I delivered us to the Hampton Coliseum safely on April 9, 1983.

As the boys tuned up for the second set, I identified the sacred twangs from Jerry's guitar. Doug and I grabbed each other and yelled, “Help on the Way!” hugging and jumping in time to Phil’s thumping bass. The rest of the band continued to doodle aimlessly. If this turned out not to be “Help on the Way,” our premature celebration would have looked pretty silly. Luckily, it was the tune we craved. It had been six long years since the Grateful Dead played "Help on the Way" on the East Coast. These were glorious times.
Tangled Up in Tunes: Ballad of a Dylanhead


  In honor of the anniversary of Music Mountain, here’s chapter two from my latest work, The Grateful Pilgrimage: Time Travel with the Dea...