Program Notes

Hurricanes. Favorite football team. Least favorite weather occurrence. And more. There was that hurricane benefit writing contest thing in New Times, wherein people lucubrated their personal experiences, and $15K went to organizations helping victims of Andrew. Like the rest of the editorial staff here, I helped judge the entries, but my personal favorite didn't win. It was penned by Nicole Yanks, a twelve-year-old South Dade resident who will someday, if she wants, be a famous writer of novels. With a Job-referenced stroke she asks metaphorically in her piece how something like Andrew could exist, suggesting that "maybe God and Mother Nature were not involved." Then she shifts her prose into first-person experiential documentation with existential ramifications, like Tom Wolfe but more literate -- "the racket nearly tore apart my nerves..." and "every beat crushed my heart more" -- even as she melds the rain and her tears into a singular concept. By juxtaposition she develops the character of her brother in just four words, when she writes that he "tried to act fearless." She concludes that she laughs at the trauma, because "it hurts too much to cry." The segment of her essay that absolutely chilled me to the soul was this: "I also remember asking my mother, who was trying to hold back the tears, if I was going to die. A few times I could not believe her when she told me `no, honey' and held me tight. I guess no one could promise me more than a memory." I guess no one could promise me more than a memory. Not another single word needs to be written about Andrew, or about life.

If ever there were a good afternoon to spend at Bayside (and we're not sure there is), it's this Sunday from noon to 5:00, when PACE conducts the finals of its 1993 jazz showcase compo. Providing the free music while battling for their very careers are singer Tanya Marie, the group E.J. & Company, guitarist Martin Hand, saxophonist Gerald Dimitri, and harpist Scott Marischen. Good luck to the winner, better luck to the nonwinners.

The concert could've been better. Jorge Barcala and Bob Dylan could've come out for a head-cutting guitar challenge. Before you laugh about how Dylan wouldn't have a prayer even if he reconverted to Christianity, note that the old man's been taking lessons. Hurricane Productions, an all-student-staffed and registration-fee-funded division of U.M.'s Student Activities, staged Dylan on November 8 on the campus patio. H.P. chairman Matthew Kronsberg and his troops delivered a hell of a concert against all kinds of oddities. (In previous years the kids at U.M. got for their homecoming concert the likes of Joe Piscopo and Joan Jett, so whatever challenges H.P. faced this year were worth it.) Even before the concert, controversy almost erupted when rumors swirled that someone was protesting the selection of Mary Karlzen (backed by Barcala and the amazing rhythm section from Forget the Name) as opening act, threatening to take the story to the Miami Hurricane. The Hurricane's coverage (before and after) ignored the rumors.

Karlzen and her band came out in late afternoon and played one of the tightest, smartest sets of rock I've been treated to in a while. Barcala made his guitar talk about ten languages (and of course, Derek Murphy and Jose Tillan were right with him) and Karlzen was on it big time. Put it this way: The band was asked to open Dylan's Sunrise concert five days later. They were asked after the U.M. set.

Then it was time for dark clouds and Dylan. "We almost had to cancel," says Kronsberg. "I was back there with Dylan's people and they were really good about it. They wanted him to play, and play a full show. They were more generous than I would've been." After a short delay the plastic came off the instruments and Dylan came on. There was no food or water available at the show, no readmittance, and I'm no fan of Dylan. Hated it? Actually, no. Dylan -- rain gusts and globs of water from the overhead light rack slapping him in the face -- displayed a toughness I never knew he had in him, especially not at this point in his career, exactly 30 years after recording his first album. Ignoring his new album, Dylan was at first unbearably nasal as he reworked "Lay Lady Lay" and "All Along the Watchtower" and others in nearly unrecognizable versions. He also ignored his own setlist, deleting "Positively 4th Street" and others in favor of extended jams and, during an acoustic segment, solos. By the time he got to "Silvio" about a third of the way into his show, the voice had loosened up. And while one could quibble about any Dylan setlist -- "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" was perfect, but why no "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" or "Watching the River Flow"? Or a twisted take on "Hurricane"? -- it's more important to note that Big D actually smiled several times, and believe it or not, cracked a joke near the end of the set by saying he was already twenty mintues into his encore. On the way out I heard some U.M. kids quibbling about that setlist. "And what's that one. `Blowin' in the Wind'?" Yeah.

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