Jakob Dylan: JD And the Old Man

Jakob Dylan and Three Legs featuring Neko Case and Kelly Hogan

The Felice Brothers

Grand Regency Ballroom

San Francisco, CA

May 12, 2010

It’s got to be hard to grow up as the off-spring of a cultural and musical icon. There’s no possible way for Jakob Dylan to measure up against all the accomplishments of his father, Bob. Bob Dylan is a legend. In Time magazine’s list of the century’s most influential artists and entertainers, Bobby D was included next to James Joyce, TS Eliot, the Beatles, Picasso and Marlon Brando but more importantly, Bob is one of my personal faves. Not only did Jakob grow up in the shadow of this incomparable legacy, he also resembles his father a great deal so that when you see him sing, you can’t help but think of his father.

When listening to JD do his thing, part of me feels that I must be underestimating his music- which is quite good - because of the immediate connection in my mind to his father. But another part of me also feels that JD can do better. There is no question that JD is a very good songwriter, singer and performer, but despite how pleasant the music is, I feel there is a little bit of an adventurous spirit missing. Maybe there is some father/son psychological compulsion driving JD to play it safe knowing that he will always be compared to Bob. I can’t help but feel there is a timidness underlying his otherwise self-assured persona.

JD’s new album Women + Country is only his second solo album after a long stint with The Wallflowers. It is the kind of folky ambient roots collection of thoughtful yet optimistic tunes that critics frequently adore but can often wash over you too easily. They are tunes to chill by, which make them less like tunes to party to- as one might want to do at a live performance. This might also be part of the disconnect that I felt at the Regency Ballroom, that and a full stomach of fried Catfish from Farmer Bob’s. Although I mistakenly believed that Neko Case and Kelly Hogan would be performing separately, I don’t think I would have enjoyed the show as much without them singing in the Three Legs band. They added some very nice harmonies and the highlights of the show almost all involved their stepping into the spotlight– on “Three Marlenas,” “Sixth Avenue Heartache,” “Smile When You Call Me That,” and “Evil is Alive and Well.”

Playing before JD and TL feature NC and KH, was The Felice Brothers who were plenty adventurous, almost a little too much. Their music was kind of a cross between Tom Waits and the Grateful Dead which ended up sounding (ironically) a lot like Bob Dylan during his days with The Band. It is a very loose sound with beatnik lyrics that is really a lot of fun. Definitely a band that I will continue to follow. For a taste, check out “Run Chicken Run” or “Frankie’s Gun.”

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