(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Bob Dylan author Seth Rogovoy will host an exclusive screening of Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese at the Triplex Cinema on Tuesday, June 11, at 7pm. The Triplex screening will be one of only a few dozen in the world before the film moves to the small screen on Netflix. Rogovoy, the author of BOB DYLAN: Prophet Mystic Poet (Scribner, 2009), will provide brief introductory remarks to contextualize the creative documentary film and will moderate a post-screening Q&A.
The film chronicles the fall of 1975, when Bob Dylan went back to his roots in the Greenwich Village folk scene. He picked up a band of new musicians, recorded the album Desire, and hit the road on a tour across New England called the Rolling Thunder Revue. A kind of rock-and-roll guerrilla circus, the shows were four-hour extravaganzas that played in mostly small theaters and civic centers, featuring not only Dylan but Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Allen Ginsberg, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Ronee Blakley, Sam Shepard, and occasional guests including Joni Mitchell, Arlo Guthrie, and Rick Danko of The Band.
The concert featured all-new arrangements of Dylan songs, including plenty of sixties hits and favorites, plus a generous helping of songs from Desire and his landmark Blood on the Tracks album, which had only just been released the previous January. Oddly, Dylan wore a Richard Nixon mask or whiteface makeup for most of the concerts.
Fortunately for history, Dylan also brought along with him a camera crew, whose hundreds of hours of raw footage Dylan edited down to four hours and released as Renaldo & Clara in January 1978. The avant-garde film, which puzzled many critics and pleased many fans, included both concert footage and improvised scenes among the musicians, cast, and crew. In his new film about that tour, Martin Scorsese makes use of that footage in addition to newly recorded interviews with many of the tour participants, including Bob Dylan. The documentary apparently will echo Renaldo & Clara’s creative approach; the producers are touting the film thusly: “Truth and myth are blurred in Martin Scorsese’s film experience about Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour in the fall of 1975.”
While the closest concert on that tour was in Springfield, Mass., there is a Berkshire connection to the Rolling Thunder Revue. After the Springfield concert, the tour buses drove the performers and crew to the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. At the suggestion of Arlo Guthrie, who performed at the Springfield concert, the next day everyone went to the Dream Away Lodge in Becket, where much filming took place.
Renaldo & Clara included many scenes filmed at the Dream Away, including a memorable meeting between Joan Baez and Dream Away’s then-owner Mama Frasca. Other scenes from Dream Away include Joan Baez asking Bob Dylan point-blank, “What do you think would have happened if we had gotten married?,” and former Dylan paramour Baez and Sara Dylan (Bob Dylan’s then-wife) each vying for the attention of Renaldo, played by Bob Dylan. (Rocker Ronnie Hawkins played Bob Dylan in the film.) Apparently some of the Dream Away footage will be included in the Scorsese film.
Seth Rogovoy is a longtime Berkshire music critic and the author of BOB DYLAN: Prophet Mystic Poet (Scribner, 2009). The Religion News Service called Rogovoy “American Jewry’s greatest Dylan scholar.” The editor-in-chief of the late, lamented Berkshire Living magazine and publisher of The Rogovoy Report, Seth also has performed at many Bob Dylan tribute concerts.
This special Triplex Cinema screening is the first of several ongoing events planned in collaboration with the Berkshire International Film Festival (which is honoring Martin Scorsese on June 1) to bring alternative programming to the community.
Tickets to the Dylan screening are on sale now at The Triplex.