Bob Dylan tribute is an excuse to get Montreal musicians back on the stage

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Bob Dylan tribute is an excuse to get Montreal musicians back on the stage
Billy Bob Productions has feted Bob Dylan in the past, but this time around, their upcoming belated 80th birthday bash for the songwriter in absentia is less about the man himself and more about bringing Montreal musicians back to the stage.

Artists set to hit the Soda stage Nov 27 include Billy Bob favourites the Damn Truth, Dawn Tyler Watson, Shane Murphy, Rob Lutes, Li’l Andy, Patrick Krief, Durham County Poets, the Slowinks, the Nils and a house band of music vets (such as Rob MacDonald and Alec McElcheran) to hold it all together. Tickets have progressively been made available as government restrictions have eased.

Even if you’re not down with deep cuts from Dylan’s seven-decade repertoire, it’ll just be a sight to see and hear so many artists doing what they love over one night.

“It’s wonderful to get back to some sense of regular rhythm again,” said Watson. She won a Juno Award for best Blues Album in 2020 and much of that momentum was basically scuffled, although she’s been able to keep performing and even played Jazz Fest in September.

Watson remembers her first show back as a spectator.

“I actually had tears, it was amazing,” she said. “It was a beautiful, refreshing perspective for me. I get how powerful it is to have that taken away for so long.”

Another act on the bill, guitarist Patrick Krief, said he’s “equal parts nervous and excited” about playing a show again.

“My last show was in Germany in 2019,” he said. “It actually feels like it’s been 10 years. I honestly don’t know what to expect, and it makes for a unique experience. I’m humbled by the invitation to play, and to honour a legend like Bob Dylan. I’ve not done covers in front of an audience before, so this is a big deal for me.”

Both artists are looking forward to connecting with colleagues again. Billy Bob shows are known for controlled chaos, where the convivial vibes in the green room spill over into the music. It’s a night where watching how musicians get it done is as important as hearing the final result.

“The need to connect with other musicians and audiences alike is real. Hopefully this is the first of many! I’m definitely ready to get rolling,” said Krief.

“It’s always fun bumping into people backstage,” said Watson. “I wonder what it’s going to be like this time because (Billy Bob) shows backstage are always a bit of a zoo, and a lot of these people I haven’t seen in a few years.” ■

Billy Bob Productions presents Bob Dylan 80th Birthday Bash in Montreal on Saturday, Nov. 27, 7:30 p.m., $74.25–$92.25, with student specials at the door (ID required)

For more music coverage, please visit the Music section.
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