Dylanfest 26 is upon us this Sunday. For me though it will be thought of perpetually as Dylan Party 24. I missed the first two in the small bar and the small house as I was out of town. Andy, Craig and I moved into our new, old house in April of 1993. On May 30, 1993 we gave the first of the backyard Dylan parties. An experiment to see how many people could fit in our yard, how much booze could be consumed, how much music could be played and how long before the cops shut it down. It was a success. Andy counted 22 musicians the other night at that Dylan party O so long ago playing close to 10 hours. Contrast that with this year’s over 60 musicians in 8 hours. Do they play faster?
We had seven years of Dylan parties in our backyard and then, as Andy likes to say in his understated, polite to a fault, Canadian way, “You were in a bad mood and kicked us out.” Perhaps, but becoming a new mother will do that to you I guess. The year Marco was born- 1997- we moved the party next door to Kim and Tony’s and then back again for the final two years ending in 1999. Coincidently, our family room remodel began right after the Dylan party that year in 1993 and has not been touched since. Andy and Renee used the barren room devoid of drywall and flooring to select and rehearse the band they would take to Thailand with them all those years ago. Rumor has it that one of those band members will also be at Dylanfest this year. This week the family room is finally being totally redone for the first time since 1993. The circle of life or construction at least.
I never went to Dylanfest 2000 or any of the other ones for the next 15 years except the Chevron one in 2006. I wanted to see Lisa and Chase and took Max to that one for a few hours. That chance encounter led us to babysit Chase when Andy had gigs for the next several years, a fun connection for those two boys born a few months apart. Now perhaps there are still a few backyard Dylan party purists who don’t go to its current incarnation at the Torino Plaza for whatever reason. Perhaps it has become too commercial for some. I wondered about that too, I must admit. I decided to go again in 2014. And again in 2015. And again in 2016. It is a blast in its new incarnation, that’s for sure. The level of musicianship is off the charts. The atmosphere, the food, the drinks and the festiveness are amazing. Dylanfest has grown up with us and that is the best part. It suited our 30 year old selves in the backyard and it suits our 50 and 60 year old selves at the Civic Center. And that’s as it should be. It is the perfect metaphor for a life well lived. We can reflect back on those memories from the early parties and those who are no longer with us like Wild Bill and John V and the Chipster. We can dance and drink and sing at this Sunday’s event with new and old Dylanfest goers alike. We can look forward to future fests in years to come without mourning the past or dwelling on that future. We can simply celebrate Dylanfest 26/Party 24 right NOW- the best place to be.
Bob turns 75 this year. Shirley, our neighbor back then, brought him a present for his 52st birthday along with Craig as she thought Bob was a neighbor too when she got Andy’s invitation to the party that he gave to each and every one of them. A story we tell often and laugh about. It’s but one of the many stories and legends and downright fun that surrounds this event by Andy and Renee each year. In 72 hours we’ll see what’s in store for us this year…. I can’t wait, can you?
Tomorrow…. Favorite Song and then Some.. Dedicated to Sandi “Dylanfest Queen” Behar