Music News 6/5/2019


Bob Dylan, THE ROLLING THUNDER REVIEW: THE 1975 LIVE RECORDINGS (Columbia, 14 CDs, $109.98) – In the fall of 1975, Bob Dylan (as “ringmaster-troubadour in mime-style white face paint and a gaucho hat”), led a spontaneous, carnivalesque tour of small venues with a large crew of musicians—featuring duet partner Joan Baez—known as the Rolling Thunder Review. The band played new songs from Desire, songs from the Dylan catalogue, and some traditional songs, all in energetic, committed performances; Dylan especially was in rousing, dramatic form. There was also a camera crew present recording concerts and behind the scene impovs for the film that became Renaldo and Clara. Especially notable is the violin playing of Scarlett Rivera, and a choir of guitars swirling around the impassioned singing (which included Mick Ronson, Steven Soles, Bobby Neurwerth, T Bone Burnett, and David Mansfield on pedal steel and mandolin).

The box set includes 3 CDs of rehearsals, 10 CDs of full concert performances, and a bonus disc of rare perfomances, including 100 previously unreleased tracks.

NOTE: Starting June 12, Netflix will show Martin Scorsese’s documentary, Rolling Thunder Review, including concert footage (taken from the 80 hours of footage from Renaldo and Clara), plus new interviews with participants.


The Seldom Scene, CHANGES (Rounder, $16.98) – The Seldom Scene have been a bluegrass institution for nearly 50 years, first organized as jam sessions by banjo player Ben Eldrige, and came to include John Duffey, John Starling, Mike Auldrige, and Tom Gray. The Scene was always based in the DC suburbs, and played regular gigs for many years at the Red Fox Inn, and then continuing at the Birchmere. There were eventual personnel changes—sadly, Duffey, Auldridge, and Starling have passed away—but the band carries on with great force, led by vocalists Dudley Connell and Lou Reid (both members for over twenty years).  Changes is the first Scene without any of the founding members. But they return to one of the Scene’s specialties: bluegrass takes on songs by songwriters like Bob Dylan, John Prine, and Townes Van Zandt.

The band currently consists of Dudley Connell (guitar/lead vocals), Ron Stewart (banjo/fiddle/guitar), Lou Reid (mandolin/tenor vocals), Fred Travers (dobro/lead vocals), and Ronnie Simpkins (bass/baritone vocals).

NOTE: The Seldom Scene are playing bluegrass festivals all summer, but will make return appearances at the Birchmere on September 27, November 29 and their annual New Year’s Eve show.

Dervish, THE GREAT IRISH SONGBOOK (Rounder, $16.98) – Dervish celebrates its 30th anniversary with a recording of classic Irish tunes with a guest for each song, including Rhiannon Giddens, Abigail Washburn, David Gray, Vince Gill, Kate Rusby, Cathy Jordan, Andrea Corr, and Jamey Johnson.


Ron Howard’s new documentary, Pavarotti, opens this Friday in DC.  PAVAROTTI: Music from the Motion Picture (Decca, $14.98) mixes great arias from recordings, and live material from the Three Tenors.