Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Like A Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan's American Journey Exhibit at the Skirball

Ugly Shoe Boy and I journeyed through Bob Dylan's American Journey at the Skirball Cultural Center the other night. The exhibit had been on our to-go list since its opening in early February, but with the recent discovery of the Skirball's Thursday Special (open late until 9pm and free admission & parking all day!), there really was no excuse not to check it out.

The Skirball Center (off the 405 just South of the 101) is the 4th pit stop for the exhibit hosted by the Experience Music Project, after making its way through the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, New York City and Minneapolis. Speaking just as a casual fan (I like the songs Bob Dylan's famous for but he lost me a little during his Soy Bomb/incohorent mumbling/singing phase) I found the exhibit comprehensive and interesting. While maybe not unveiling any new revelations about the man, the exhibit threw in enough surprises (young Robert Zimmerman's hand-written poetry from a high-school english assignment, a cheeky letter to Joan Baez's mother signed by Joan but penned by Dylan) and gems (never-released recording of Dylan's first concert performed at Carnegie Chapter Hall, journalists' scribblings documenting Bob's infamous electric guitar debut at Newport Festival; "on at 9:25", "wearing a black leather coat", "electric") to impress hard-core fans looking to find more traces of the person behind the persona.

The exhibit is organized chronologically, focusing on the Poet Man's formative years between 1956-1966 and showcases influencing events in Dylan's life and his country/folk/rock/ blues/gospel phases alongside corresponding memorabilia; highlights from the collection of 150+ artifacts include a Martin guitar inscribed by childhood hero Woody Guthrie, side-by-side headshots of Guthrie and early Dylan replicating the same stance into the camera, rare posters from his Greenwich Village concerts with Joan Baez, signed album covers with quirky comments and song lyrics, candid moments caught on camera and drafts of lyrics to 'Blowin' In the Wind' and 'Mr Tamborine Man'.

For those all about the music, there are private listening and & viewing stations cued with tracks from his first 7 albums and looping in hours of documentary, interview and performance footage. And, while I found this a bit too much audience participation, if your American Journey of Bob Dylan isn't complete until you've sung a mile in his shoes, there is an interactive section where you can live out your rock star fantasies remixing Dylan ditties, playing drums along with Dylan tunes or even singing along with Bob.
Thankfully, headphones are provided so the rest of the museum-going audience is spared hearing your duet of 'Like A Rolling Stone'.

Bob Dylan's American Journey, 1956-1966 exhibit runs through June 8, 2008
For more info, check out: Skirball Cultural Center
$10 General Admission
Tues-Fri: 12pm-5pm
Sat-Sun: 10am-5pm
Thursdays: Extended hours 12pm-9pm, free!

No comments: