VOYAGES OF RC! AmericanaramA Festival of Music feat. Bob Dylan & his Band, Wilco, Bob Weir and My Morning Jacket @ Cruzan Amphitheatre WPB, FL (6/26/13)
Last night, Wednesday, June 26th, AmericanaramA Festival of Music featuring Bob Dylan and his band kicked off their tour in beautiful West Palm Beach at the Cruzan Amphitheatre. As with many tours that pass through South Florida, it will either be the first or last appearance on the tour. In this case, South Florida was the first stop. Every first gig is met with a healthy dose of fear and a slight amount of anticipation. Despite the unknown, most people we encountered had few expectations and were overjoyed just to be part of this event. AmericanaramA in WPB would be headlined by Bob Dylan & his band supported by Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, My Morning Jacket and Wilco.
Excitement for this festival definitely came from seeing Rock and Roll titans sandwiching two of the most talented, regularly touring bands out there. Bob Dylan should be applauded for ushering the introduction of My Morning Jacket and Wilco to a whole new demographic. After both bands performed, one Weir and Dylan fan noted, “I could easily see how my head would explode if I was into MMJ back in the day.” In that regard, Dylan’s introduction of these bands could be deemed a success.
However, one could posit that there didn’t really seem to be a commonality to the band choices. The common thread for all these musicians is clearly that they are all truly folkies at heart. Both Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco have their roots in folk music. So, being a part of a festival like this comes easy for them both.
Bob Weir began the festival, but what seemed unusual was seeing him perform solo and acoustic. Weir is noted for being a rhythm guitarist and it was strange to see him performing in a style that many are unaccustomed to seeing. Considering he was recently injured and prevented from playing shows for nearly two months, he performed as if nothing had happened. Highlights included his rendition of Garcia’s ‘Loose Lucy’. Bob Weir’s setlist: ‘Easy to Slip’, ‘Loose Lucy’, ‘Peggy-O’, ‘KC Moan’, ‘Dear Prudence’ and ‘Not Fade Away’
My Morning Jacket definitely brought a different energy to the crowd. Their Southern/Classic rock hybrid sound easily pulsated through the thick, humid South Florida air. Jim James and the band whipped the already sweaty crowd into a controlled frenzy. Personal highlights include ‘Circuital’, ‘Smokin’ From Shootin’ and ‘Gideon’. My Morning Jacket’s setlist: ‘Circuital’, ‘Outta My System’, ‘I’m Amazed’, ‘Golden’, ‘Evelyn’, ‘Way He Sings’, ‘Slow into End of War Begun’, ‘ Smokin From Shootin’, ‘Wordless Chorus’, ‘Victory Dance’, ‘Gideon’ and ‘One Big Holiday’
Jeff Tweedy of Wilco walked out onto the stage in his very American style hat, grinning from ear to ear. As noted earlier, most of the audience is there for Dylan, but it felt like “any friend of Dylan is a friend of mine.” The crowd easily fell into a groove for Wilco and when Weir joined them for ‘Ripple’ (video courtesy of SFMO) and ‘California Stars,’ they seemed giddy with happiness. As expected, after speaking to a “die-hard” Dead Head, they stated how much they enjoyed Wilco’s set, but for the discordant sounds in ‘Poor Places.’ A reaction like that came as no surprise and in fact, was anticipated. Highlights included ‘Forget the Flowers’, ‘Poor Places’, ‘Impossible Germany’ and both songs with Weir. Wilco’s setlist: ‘At My Window Sad and Lonely’, ‘ Forget the Flowers’, ‘Company in My Back’, ‘Poor Places’, ‘Art of Almost’, ‘I Might’, ‘Spiders (Kids Smoke)’, ‘Impossible Germany’, ‘ Born Alone’, ‘Ripple’ (w/ Bob Weir), ‘California Stars (w/ Bob Weir)’, ‘Via Chicago’, ‘Whole Love’, ‘Dawned on Me’ and ‘I’m the Man Who Loves You’
Dylan finally appears from the darkness and performs a very bluesy set. Having only seen him with the Dead many years ago, this evening appeared more intimate. Dylan’s path has taken him to a bluesy place and for us, it was a path we were willing to follow along. Highlights include ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ with a new arrangement, ‘Duquesne Whistle’ and ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’. Bob Dylan’s setlist: ‘Things Have Changed’, ‘Love Sick’, ‘High Water’, ‘Soon After Midnight’, ‘Early Morning Kings’, ‘Tangled Up in Blue’, ‘Duquesne Whistle’, ‘She Belongs to Me’, ‘Cry Awhile’, ‘Simple Twist of Fate’, ‘Honest with Me’, ‘All Along the Watchtower’, Enc. ‘Thunder on the Mountain’, ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’
As I continue to relive the evening’s events in my mind, I am reminded how well this festival was put together and how lucky I was to see so many talented musicians perform in such a limited period of time. While the artists may change up from city to city, if you have the opportunity to catch AmericanramA during the tour, DO NOT MISS IT. Meet me there-Beat me there!
Added 7/5/13 – check out this fan video of My Morning Jacket and Wilco covering Neil Young’s ‘Cinnamon Girl’ at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre in Alabama July 3rd. Sound is decent, no need to watch.