This Monday, May 24, 2021 will be Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday. Bob Dylan is the epitome of Rock n Roll and some say he is the most prolific songwriter ever. The impact he’s had on arts and entertainment throughout the world is significant. Bob Dylan has written more than 600 songs and sold more than 100 million records, winning 10 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, the Academy Award in 2000 for Best Original Song “Things Have Changed” from the movie Wonder Boys, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, his songs are in the Grammy Hall of Fame, in 2008 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Special Citations and he remains the only rock 'n' roll musician to win The Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.

At 80 years of age the only thing that has paused Dylan’s relentless worldwide tours has been the Covid 19 virus. In December of 2020 Bob Dylan sold his catalog of music, all 600 songs, to Universal Music for over 300 Million dollars making it the largest purchase of any single artist’s catalog in the history of music. His success and marketing has even led to Dylan associating his name and brand to Heavens Door Whiskey. You can drink it while enjoying his music.

He grew up surrounded by humble beginnings in the Iron Range section of Northern Minnesota. His music became an icon of pop culture in the '60s. His powerful lyrics hit home on political, social, philosophical and literary fronts. The Beatles have stated publicly that Bob Dylan had a major influence on their career. It was John Lennon that introduced the Beatles to Bob Dylan, and Dylan’s music would be played when the Beatles traveled or when they had some down time. Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash, Joni Mitchell, Donovan, Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young are just some of the major artists that were greatly influenced by Bob Dylan’s music and words.

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New Jersey has celebrated Bob Dylan often. Every year for the past 23 years, my good friend, the very talented musician and New Jersey’s favorite Troubadour Pat Guadagno, has paid tribute to Bob Dylan around his birthday with his great concert Bobfest. Bobfest started in 1998 at The Downtown Café in Red Bank. At the time, the Downtown was a small narrow bar with a small stage and Pat would play there every Monday night.Well, on that fateful night, May 25, 1998 head bartender Tommy Moog shouted out that it was Bob Dylan’s birthday the day before and “how about playing a Dylan song.” Pat went into about six Dylan songs much to the delight of the packed bar. I was lucky enough to be there that night and enjoyed every song.

The energy from Pat’s performance sparked the audience to engulf themselves in Dylan’s mesmerizing lyrics. Bobfest was born that night and would eventually grow to a two-night showcase then because of the popularity was moved to The Two River Theatre in Red Bank, and eventually moved again to the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, which was necessary to hold the many fans to enjoy the performance. Pat has put a world-class band together that does justice to Dylan’s amazing lyrics and talent. It’s one of my favorite shows and I’m fortunate that Pat has asked me to host Bobfest every year.

Unfortunately in 2020, because of the Pandemic Bobfest was cancelled but this year due to social distancing and indoor concert regulations, Bobfest will go on at the scaled down Vogel Theatre which is part of the count Basie Theatre for the Arts complex in Red Bank this Sunday. There are a handful of tickets available, it’s a great way to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday and enjoy the incredible talent of New Jersey’s finest. Happy birthday Bob!

Want to know more about Bob Dylan? Find out why Bob Dylan was wandering around Long Branch. Also was Big Joe hanging out at Bob Dylan's house? Read more here.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.


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