It’s almost impossible to imagine music without Bob Dylan. His influence is so far-reaching that the singer-songwriter’s birthday is celebrated nationwide, including at the fourth-annual Bob Dylan Birthday Bash coming up at The Garage, where several local bands and solo musicians will pay homage to his vast repertoire.
Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minn., on May 24, 1941, Dylan is the source of inspiration for many musicians because his songwriting deals with universal themes such as love, loss and disaster, says event organizer Andrew Murphy. “Where Bob is pulling a lot of his influence from is in these classic American styles, like early country and bluegrass and blues. The theme that recurs in a lot of those old genres is life issues that are timeless. They’re really kind of cathartic life lessons that a lot of blues and country songs are about. … That tends to resonate with people who are young songwriters.”
Murphy is a musician who plays upright bass with Michelle Moonshine and Small Change and has a degree in songwriting. He’s also the creator of A Tree With Roots, which is a podcast as well as a live show on community Internet radio station 801FM that’s dedicated to the “preservation of song.” Murphy started the event to showcase Dylan’s music as well as the bands he’s met in the scene. “I’ve played with a lot of local bands through the years and I have a lot of my favorites, and an evening of all Bob Dylan-related material is just my perfect world with my favorite local bands and my favorite songs,” he says.
Since the inaugural Bob Dylan Birthday Bash in 2011, held at The Woodshed, Murphy has seen the event grow into something that fans and bands alike expect every year. “It has its own momentum now,” he says.
This year’s lineup will include a mix of veterans and newcomers to the event: The Victories, Bird in the Trees, Buffalo vs. Train, Hectic Hobo, The Bully, Rick Gerber, Nathan Spencer Revue, Lazlo & the Dukes, Samuel Smith Band, Michelle Moonshine and more yet to be announced. Instead of consisting of only folksy singer-songwriters, the list spans several styles of music. “It’s really cool to show people the influence that Dylan has had along lots of different genres,” Murphy says.
Although the bands will mostly be covering Dylan songs, attendees will also hear songs “that are just Dylan-related,” Murphy says, as well as original material. And prizes—harmonicas, gift certificates to Randy’s Records, and screenprinted posters by Copper Palate Press—will also be given away.
Murphy says the Bob Dylan Birthday Bash is here to stay for as long as the man keeps making music—and beyond.
“I imagine this is something that we’ll do in Salt Lake forever and ever,” Murphy says. “Even after, God forbid, Bob Dylan passes away.”
BOB DYLAN BIRTHDAY BASH
1199 Beck St.
Saturday, May 31, 8 p.m.