Watch Joe Jack Talcum of The Dead Milkmen recorded live to vinyl for The 78 Project

Joe Jack Talcum at International House | Photo by John Vettese
Joe Jack Talcum at International House | Photo by John Vettese

There was an ominous silence at the International House earlier this month as Joe Jack Talcum of Dead Milkmen prepared to play “Railroad Bill.”

On Jan. 15, the International House in Philly screened the documentary The 78 Project, a film in which New York-based folk music and field recording enthusiasts Alex Steyermark and Lavinia Wright traveled the states capturing performances by various musicians in gardens, bedrooms, and other non-traditional locations.

After the screening, the 78 project team did a live recording and pressing of Philly-based Joe Jack Talcum playing the Bob Dylan cover on acoustic guitar and harmonica. Continue reading →


Watch Bob Dylan perform a concert for one lucky fan at the Academy of Music

Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan

When Bob Dylan was in town last month to play three concerts at the Academy of Music, we told you about a concert he performed for one fan, Fredrik Wikingsson. The concert was part of an ongoing Swedish film series entitled “Experiment Ensam” or (Experiment Alone), where people experience things completely alone that are usually reserved for large crowds. The director, Anders Helgeson, set-up the private show, and paid Dylan an undisclosed amount of money. Helgeson then asked his friend and TV personality, Fredrik Wikingsson to take part in the experiment. Continue reading →


Ambition Versus Expectation: What do performers owe their crowds?

Bob Dylan onstage in Maui | photo by George F. Lee via || Lauryn Hill onstage at the Bowery Ballroom | photo by Wei Shi via

Confession time. The one time I saw Bob Dylan, I walked out.

His performance was disappointing, more than a little bit sad, and first got me thinking about unspoken agreement between artist and audience. When a concert is so drastically different from the expectations behind it, did the crowd get shortchanged?

It was the XPoNential Music Festival two summers ago, the year of the colossal rain storm. I was soaked to the bone, sticking it out for my chance to see the American songwriting legend who was responsible for Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks and so so many more classics. I knew he wasn’t going to play the songs the way they sounded on the album; I knew his voice wasn’t what it once was. And I was okay with that, because I’m generally comfortable with artists taking artistic liberties – and let’s face it, Dylan was never a great singer.

But I wasn’t prepared for how bad it was going to be. A half hour or so into the set, the band – who seemed to all be skilled players, for sure – was in the middle of a wandering, free-form expanse while Dylan’s barely audible voice croaked indiscernibly along. At one point, he uttered something that sounded vaguely like “Pourin’ off of every page / Like it was written in my soul from me to you” and I realized, OH GOD, this is supposed to be “Tangled Up in Blue.” I gave up. I went home.

I’ve been thinking about that Dylan concert this week for a couple reasons; one, because he just played three nights at the Academy of Music and was reportedly quite good. And two, because I recently reviewed Lauryn Hill’s show at the Electric Factory and roughly criticized the crowd for doing exactly what I did during Dylan’s set. Continue reading →


Bob Dylan defies expectations at the Academy of Music

Bob Dylan | Academy Of Music | Photo by Jon Landman
Bob Dylan | Photo by Jon Landman

Bob Dylan opened up a three night stint at the Academy of Music on Friday night, and it was equal parts surreal and magical. As my concert going companion said, it was like watching “Dylan covering Tom Waits covering Dylan,” and as Dylan stood center stage, in a white suit and white hat, singing a selection of songs that barely touched on the familiar hits of his past, he looked like a ragtime era cowboy crooner. Continue reading →


MusicNotes from the XPN Morning Show: Listen to Bob Dylan’s unreleased cover of John Lee Hooker’s “Tupelo”, and Martin Scorsese’s documentary on the Grateful Dead to coincide with band’s 50th anniv. next year


Bob Dylan’s 1967 collaboration with The Band entitled “The Basement Tapes” debuts November 4th. And one of the previously unreleased songs from it, (Dylan’s cover of John Lee Hooker’s “Tupelo Blues”)  has already come out. Continue reading →