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In March of 1962 Columbia Records released Bob Dylanís first solo album, simply entitled, Bob Dylan. It contained but two original compositions, "Talkiní New York" and "Song To Woody." At times itís hard to believe that from this   humble two song beginning Bob Dylan would forever change the face of American music with such historic works as The Freewheeliní Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changiní, Another Side Of Bob Dylan, Bring It All Back Home and the magnificent, Highway 61 Revisited. But he did. And just as that first album started Dylan on his way to becoming my generationís most important poet, so did a simple request for a Dylan song in 1998 lead local singer/guitarist, Pat Guadagno,
down the road to this yearís 61 song, two venue (The Downtown Cafe, Red Bank and The Celtic Cottage, Long Branch), two night, extravaganza known as "Bobfest 2002."
     Aided by the efforts of The Downtown Cafeís Tom Moog, MC Big Joe Henry and the contributions of local artist, Kim White, "Bobfest" has grown into one of Red Bankís hippest events. In celebration of
Bobís 61st birthday it was decided that 61 songs would be performed over two nights. I was fortunate
enough to catch both nightsí opening sets.
       Accompanied by Rich Oddo (electric g./vocals), Dickie Thomas (mandolin/vocals) and Phil "Red River" Rizzo (bass/vocals) at The Downtown Cafe, Pat Guadagno (lead vocals/acoustic guitar), paid homage to Bob with soaring renditions of "All Along The Watchtower" (fierce solo opener/killer a.g.), "Bob Dylanís 115th Dream" (somewhere in the stratosphere), "Maggieís Farm" (just explodes with Richís e.g.), "Desolation Row" (postcards from a hanging indeed/Pat nails it/big crowd fave), "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (duh!), "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn, The Eskimo)" (rough & ready Quinn/Dickie shines on mandolin as band jams on), "Tombstone Blues" (P.G.ís best/band on fire/sweet), "I Want You" (wonderful take/haunting e.g./stunning lead v.), "Shelter From The Storm" (boys take it another level/huge#) and "I Shall Be Released/ Brownsville Girl" (masterful medley). As you can gather this was an inspired performance as well as a most unforgettable night!
      And while the Red Bank performance was more
of a tribute, the Long Branch effort took on more of a rough and tumbliní roadhouse tenor with Pat Guadagno (acoustic g.) and Rich Oddo (electric g.), offering up such gems as "From A Buick 6" (Rich cuts loose on slide g.), "Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid" (stellar guitars), "Positively 4th Street" (and it was), "Forever Young" (terrific vís./crowd fave), "Youíre A Big Girl Now" (pure magic/haunting e.g.), "Itís All Over Now, Baby Blue" (basic Bob/back to the roots), "You Ainít Goiní Nowhere" (a Dylan ditty), "Knockiní On Heavenís Door" (cool duet/monster finish), "Most Likely You Go Your Way And Iíll Go Mine" (rolliní & rockiní) and "She Belongs To Me"
(most appropriately dedicated to Kim).
Pat Guadagno and Rich Oddo at BobFest 02
Look. This was a Herculean effort and a most courageous performance. For Pat Guadagno to perform 61 Dylan songs is absolutely mind-boggling. It was a musical feat that wonít soon be forgotten and deserves much more recognition than I can provide. He is the only musician that I know of who could pull this off. It is a testament to his knowledge, dedication, craftsmanship and heart. I once wrote that, "Brilliance doesnít come this way very often. And neither does a Pat Guadagno." Well, that statement has never been truer than Now!

P.S. This column would not have been possible without the Keeper of the Lists! Good night, Gracie

Published May 31, 2002