Friday, June 22, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Americanarama Festival brings Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket

Americanarama!

Not only is it super fun to say, but as the title of Thursday's music fest at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, Americanarama is also a puckishly perfect handle for this summer's most inspired tour.

RELATED: The 20 best Bob Dylan cover songs

Bob Dylan, My Morning Jacket, Wilco and the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir make up a sterling lineup of eclectic, eccentric dudes who have taken the dusty roots of American music and interpreted them with their own trippy, seductive twists.

This is folk music made for midways, a history lesson in wicked wordplay and blistering solos. Each one of these award-gobbling acts is a music critic's dream, but don't let that kill your buzz: They also throw a party.

The Americanarama Festival of Music is the 72-year-old Dylan's baby. But he is so famously cryptic, his reasons for anything are shrouded in deep Dylan-ness.

And yet, you can openly see what he was trying to build here, and it has the potential for greatness. Louisville's exceptionally bearded My Morning Jacket hasn't played Tampa in about a decade, so that right there is a major boon. But more than that, MMJ, led by the sound-shifting jester Jim James, blends blues, country, rock and psychedelia; its lyrics are as swirling and pretty and oft-impenetrable as Dylan's.

Led by the equally mercurial and guarded Jeff Tweedy — talk about fantastic lyrics — Chicago's Wilco started as the hooky champs of the y'alt movement. But Tweedy only had so much interest in No Depression stuff, and his palate has gone on to range from sugary jangle-pop (see 1999 album Summerteeth) to obtuse dreamscapes (see 2004 album A Ghost Is Born).

And then, of course, there's Bob himself, the legend, pop's poet laureate, still bullfrogging away on his "Never Ending Tour," which has been going on (and on and on) since 1988. I've seen him play live 15 times now, so let me say this: If you leave the show complaining about his voice — well, you shouldn't have been there in the first place.

Dylan's band, which features Duke Robillard on guitar and long-running sideman Tony Garnier on bass, allows him to chug hard, a rollicking show that is often short on articulate nuance but fat with energy. His recording output lately has been old-timey and swingin', but his gigs have a solid rock backbone.

Still you need to pay attention. Just when you think it's all just a cool, croaky jam session, Dylan will drop some beautiful knowledge on you, tying together the last 60 years of music. For instance, of late he has been including 1966 ballad Visions of Johanna, from classic LP Blonde on Blonde. You want to make a Dylanologist sob? Play that one.

So yes, there are several reasons not to miss this tour, each one a thrill, and a rich musical education, on its own.

One more time with feeling: Americanarama!

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

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