Music legend Bob Dylan stirs up nostalgia at Firefly

DOVER — Thousands of Firefly Music Festival goers were on their feet cheering uproariously as Bob Dylan & His Band took the main stage at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The band and Mr. Dylan were decked out in dark tan suit jackets and slacks with black undershirts.

After walking perfunctorily on stage, they picked up their instruments and just started playing sans introduction.

When one’s been around as long as Mr. Dylan, no introduction is necessary.

By the time he started into “Highway 61 Revisited” — his third song of the night — his lower tempo rock brought many of the audience from their feet back to their blankets. Those that remained standing swayed lazily side to side as the 76-year-old Nobel laureate rocked them.

Bob Dylan (File photo)

Not everyone was susceptible to Dylan’s classic mix of folk, blues, country and rock. Grady Klein, who’d come to the music festival with his parents and three friends said he didn’t “see the attraction.”

“My parents were so excited for Bob Dylan. He’s supposed to be some big deal,” said the 16-year-old. “I can’t even understand what he’s saying up there. It’s fine, though. I’m going to catch some sleep before Chance the Rapper comes on at 12:30.”

Grady’s father, Ted, agreed and disagreed with his son’s interpretation of the performer who’s been a force in the music industry for five decades.

“It’s true, Dylan has always been a bit difficult to understand. I can’t really make out much of what he’s singing. But I remember all the rhythms to the songs — it’s nostalgic,” he said. “Besides, he’s a legend. When you’re at that height, it doesn’t even matter how you sound — just as long as you show up.”

As a musician, Dylan has sold more than 100 million records, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. In addition to his recent Nobel Prize for Literature, other accolades earned by the singer/songwriter have been 11 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, an Academy Award, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame.

He scored a special citation from the Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008 and in 2012 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.

The music legend became a leader in the fight for civil rights and the anti-war movement in the 1960s with his songs “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”

He’s crossed the musical spectrum ever since in a variety of genres. His latest album, “Triplicate,” comprises 30 recordings from the Great American Songbook including “As Time Goes By” and “Stormy Weather.”

For some, though, seeing Mr. Dylan at a venue that showcases so many young performers brought them back to the bygone times of their youth.

Vic Torrence of Akron, Ohio, said seeing Mr. Dylan on stage, although both performer and fan are much older, reminded him of his early musical fandom.

“I saw him in Lexington, Kentucky, back during the Never Ending Tour in 1990,” said Mr. Torrence. “I was 23 at the time but being here right now surrounded by all these young people enjoying him too, it feels like yesterday.

“He’s an incredible musician and an American treasure.”

Firefly goes cashless

Ahead of the Firefly Music Festival, Red Frog Events, the production company responsible for the event, announced they were working with payments and point of sale company, Square, and using its newest contactless and chip reader to bring “Firefly Cashless” to all festival-goers.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve the festival experience for our guests,” Alex Yount, senior manager of sponsorships for Firefly Music Festival said in May. “Firefly Cashless allows them to spend less time with the hassles of carrying cash, and more time focusing on the music and magic of The Woodlands.”

The change required all vendors to accept Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay from smart phones along with all major credit cards and debit cards. Attendees were also advised to download “Square Cash” before the festival and quickly send and request money owed between their festival group for free.

A few vendors still accept cash, and tipping in cash is still acceptable. Several patrons said that it looks like some of the food lines were moving faster than last year because of cashless payment.

“I actually don’t have a credit card,” said 17-year-old Tanya Granger from Philadelphia. “But I just used my iPhone. It’s quick and easy. I just have to make sure not to spend too much or my mom will kill me.”

StubHub hawks free friendship bracelets

Near the Coffee House in The Woodlands, StubHub, an online ticket exchange owned by eBay that provides services for buyers and sellers of tickets for sports, concerts, theater and other live entertainment events, set up a booth offering free friendship bracelet assembly to Firefly guests.

“We’re always trying to add to the festival experience at event we’re a part of and one of the really important elements of music festivals like Firefly is coming together with friends to have a great time,” said Jessica Erskine, head of entertainment communications for StubHub. “So friends can come into the tent here and built their own bracelets together for free — we provide the beads, charms and supplies.”

StubHub also offers their bracelet makers the opportunity to win a festival upgrade by taking a Snapchat photo of their new friendship bracelets and connecting with the company on social media.

“All through Firefly we’re selecting the snapchat posts at random and upgrading the tickets of people who made friendship bracelets to VIP status so they have access to the VIP areas in the festival,” said Ms. Erskine. “We also just going around The Woodlands and little ‘surprise and delight’ meet ups where we take a Snapchat photo with music fans and just upgrade them to VIP.”

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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