On April 23, 1963, a 21-year-old Bob Dylan graduated from West Village pubs and coffeehouses to perform in front of one thousand people at Town Hall. Read that setlist today, and it’s clearly a pivoting point for the young folk singer, tossing up the trainyard blues and Scottish folk songs he’d cut his teeth on with then-unknown originals like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”
Last night (May 24), on Dylan’s 77th birthday and roughly the 55th anniversary of the concert, an all-star lineup of actors, comedians and musicians got together with the Town Hall Ensemble and musical director/trumpeter Steven Bernstein to reimagine that night as Tomorrow is a Long Time: Songs From Bob Dylan's 1963 Town Hall Concert.
But if you were looking for a fawning, breathless homage to the music icon, who is definitely still with us and puttering around the globe on tour, you’d best have applied elsewhere. At one point, the folk duo The Milk Carton Kids stepped up, acoustic guitars in hand, and asked if anyone in the audience had been at the original concert 55 years ago (they hadn’t) before poking at the very nature of the show. “When I heard there were a bunch of people getting together covering Dylan, I thought, well, that hasn’t been done,” quipped their Joey Ryan, dry as a bone. “I jumped at the opportunity. We’re going to play one of his deeper cuts.” (They played “Blowin’ in the Wind.”)