As the leader of the Greenwich Village folk community in the early 1960s, Bob Dylan helped put New York's music scene on the map. So it's fitting that more than a dozen New York musicians come together each year to celebrate his birthday at Dylan Fest.
With Dylan turning 70, this year's fest has been extended to two nights and features Norah Jones, Jesse Malin, Evan Dando and Jason Sudeikis of "SNL," among many others. amNY spoke with Malin, who is performing at his third Dylan Fest.
What do you like about playing Dylan Fest? The mix of people seems to unify a lot of different circles. People in New York get so involved in their careers and being cool, but the love of music and great songs brings all of us together. You look around and it's a wild mix of people just having fun.
Isn't it odd that the show is billed as a wild celebration of Bob's 70th when Dylan doesn't exactly make party music? There are songs that have a sadness, but if you put a lot of people onstage doing them, they can be fun. The songs can stand up to a lot of different arrangements - you can strip it down, punk it up, change the tempo. Dylan fans appreciate it, and younger kids who listen to the Strokes might come and hear one of them play a deep track and get opened up to a song.
What draws you to Dylan's music? The way he paints a picture and tells a story. His songs are like little movies. Also, the way his music evolved - he could reinvent himself and still be meaningful, whether he was singing about heartbreak, segregation or politics. His voice is so real. It showed a lot of people that you don't have to be Pavarotti or Freddie Mercury to sing.
If you go: Dylan Fest 2011 is at the Bowery Ballroom Thursday and Friday. 9 p.m., $20, boweryballroom.com