Words and music of Bob Dylan come to New Haven
Josh Falcone – General Assignment Reporter –
Bob Dylan’s words and music have been moving and inspiring people for more than 50 years, and his songs have been covered, covered and covered in that long stretch of time. For a short time right now in the Westville section of New Haven, Dylan’s music and words are being used to portray the unbelievable mark the man has left on the musical landscape in Long Time Gone: Words & Music by Bob Dylan.
Long Time Gone is a musical biography of Bob Dylan being performed at Lyric Hall by show creator Peter Landecker, New York bluesman Guy Davis and Texas singer-songwriter Betty Soo.
Davis is the son of legendary actors/writers/activists Ruby Dee and the late Ossie Davis. He has had a long, storied career having taught himself guitar when he was younger.
Betty Soo is an accomplished singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas with half a dozen albums to her name. On how she got involved with the Long Time Gone, Betty Soo said Landecker invited her to be in the show and it grabbed her interest.
“It sounded like something artistically that was interesting,” she said. “And to explore one of my heroes in very different way was appealing.”
Betty Soo said the show also intrigued her because it is something different than she normally does.
“The script seemed really interesting,” Betty Soo said. “I also wanted to see it done.”
The first act of Long Time Gone starts from the beginning, with Landecker as Dylan describing his formative years in the Midwest and his eventual venture east to New York City and the meeting with his idol Woody Guthrie. Davis and Betty Soo perform many of Dylan’s early classics, including “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” “Blowing in the Wind,” “With God on Our Side,” and “Masters of War.”
Landecker as Dylan also performs a stirring rendition of “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” and an interview where Dylan’s abhorrence at the media’s fixation on his place in the protest song scene, and his general disdain for them in general was in full force.
The first act closes with Landecker, Davis and Betty Soo performing a crowd rousing version of “Like a Rolling Stone.”
In the second act, the trio delves into Dylan’s instances of love, heartbreak and spirituality. This includes a moving version of “Ring Them Bells” by Betty Soo on piano and Davis with a gripping “Gotta Serve Somebody.”
Landecker said the show is a life story told primarily through a man’s music, and Dylan’s constant transformation throughout his career creates a wonderful experience.
“There are all sorts of different kinds of songs in it,” Landecker said. “You’ve got love songs, you’ve got your divorce songs, you’ve got the protest songs, and songs with a strong spirituality in them.”
Betty Soo agreed with Landecker.
The beauty of Dylan is that his catalogue is so broad, she said.
“From album to album he changes so much,” Betty Soo said. “And not one of them defines the whole picture. I love that he feels the freedom and that he has the confidence to explore different kinds of music and different kinds of messages. He’s not afraid to do what’s moving him.”
Lyric Hall, where Long Time Gone is being performed, was a silent movie house over 100 years ago that owner and manager John Cavaliere beautifully restored in 2006, remodeling the playhouse. Lyric Hall is the perfect place to do Long Time Gone, according to Landecker. He said that people get uplifted from the music and spoken words featured in the show and that in particular this community needs uplift, and he hopes Long Time Gone helps.
“We’re all in this together,” he said.
Long Time Gone is being performed Thursdays through Sundays now until Feb. 10 at 8:00 p.m. at Lyric Hall, 827 Whalley Ave. Tickets are $35 and $25 for students and seniors with ID.