Bob Dylan didn't make it to the Rolling Thunder Revue party after it opened in Toronto earlier this week.
But all the other performers did. I went too — not as a journalist but as a guest of one of the performers — and got a better insight into the singers' off-stage personalities.
The Rolling Thunder Revue is of course an assemblage — which appears in Montreal tonight — including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Bobby Neuwirth, Joni Mitchell, Roger McGuinn and Ronney Blakely. Also along is a host of back-up musicians including Scarlett Riviera, Mick Ronson, Rob Stoner, T-Bone Burnett and Allan Ginsburg as poet-in-residence.
Dylan, it seems, is keeping aloof from the rest of the touring tribe. Whereas some like Baez and Mitchell have wandered among the audiences, Dylan has sealed himself off from not only his public but most of his fellow performers.
Ramblin' Jack said he's hardly had a chance to talk with the tour's main star.
A bunch of Toronto's folk and rock personalities also turned up at the party; Gordon Lightfoot, Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins, David Clayton-Thomas, Christopher Kearney and David Rea.
It was an interesting and very friendly party. During the concert Joan Baez dedicated a song to Montreal songwriter Jesse Winchester and at the party Jesse and his music formed the basis for an enjoyable chat I had with the 'queen of folk music.'
Despite his reputation as one of rock's nasties, Roger McGuinn, founder and leader of the Byrds, seemed to be a very likable guy. Wearing a Sweetheart of the Rodeo cowboy shirt Roger wandered throughout the suite engaging in conversation with everyone.
Joni Mitchell was the elegant lady at the affair. In a very happy frame of mind, she wandered about chatting and distributing cigarettes to one and all.
Ramblin' Jack Elliott was forever ramblin' about big semis, cowboy hats and boots and driving cattle out on Ian Tyson's ranch.
Holding court in a corner was Allen Ginsburg. He had no shortage of people to listen to his tales of contemporaries such as Jack Kerouac and seemed genuinely interested in meeting those who cared to introduce themselves.
In all, no one seemed to even care that Dylan had shunned the party. They all had a real nice time without him.