Twenty years ago Andy Hill decided to put together a party honoring Bob Dylan's, then, 50th birthday (May 24), at the Hermosa Saloon, in Southern California's South Bay area. He had read in the liner notes of Dylan’s Biograph retrospective set of a party in New York where guests were invited to dress up as characters from Dylan’s songs. "We rehearsed 78 songs, but got through only 44 in the four hours we had to play. The rehearsal tapes still exist. It was well attended, and the costumes were hilarious," states Andy.
Since the fest’s inception it has been held at various venues in the South Bay, including Andy’s backyard. On Saturday, May 8, 2010, Andy Hill & Renee Safier's 20th Annual Bob Dylan Fest will be held at St. Anthony School in El Segundo, 12:30 – 8:30 p.m. An outdoor concert, it will be held on the school grounds adjacent to the gym, rain or shine and a portion of the proceeds will benefit St. Anthony Elementary.
Several soloists, bands and duos will perform over 60 songs from Dylan’s vast catalogue, with no repeat numbers. Musicians are selected before the event, several returning each year. This year's performers include: Andy & Renee and their band Hard Rain and Marty Rifkin on pedal steel. Rifkin has toured and recorded with Bruce Springsteen, among others. Also performing: keyboardist Bob Malone, singer-songwriter Karen Nash, Pillow of Wrongness, Paul Zollo, Caroline Vreeland, Dry September, Jay Constable & Nate LaPointe, Kyle Hurley, Tom Hicks, singer/actor Jack McGee, John Hoke, Fuzzy Thurston, Daniel Leanse, Patti Orbeck, Arlen Rimmer, James Lee Stanley, Bellylove, Terry Buck, The 8-Tracks, Evyn Charles, Clementine’s Jannel and Elijah Rap, Michelle Porter-Benjen, Brax Cutchin, Bill Colontuoni, Julie Long, Dave Leahy, Terry Buck, Don Agronsky, Sassy Minxx Dancers’ Trish Gomez, and Jodie Mendoza.
The audience is still encouraged to dress up in costumes as “characters, things, interpretations and misinterpretations of Dylan’s song titles or lyrics,” states Andy. “A misinterpretation would be when our guitarist dressed up as Angus Young (of AC DC) as a play on the song title ‘Forever Young.’” Some of the costumes over the years have also included various versions of “Tangled Up In Blue,” “Highway 61,” “farmer’s daughter,” “Isis” and “baby blue,” among others.
Andy and Renee have recorded nine independent CDs, several produced by Marty Rifkin, including their critically acclaimed It Takes A Lot To Laugh CD that featured all Dylan songs. Reviews of the CD led to a booking at a Dylan Fest in Italy, where the duo were also a hit in the after hours jam sessions, as they knew how to play most of Dylan’s material. With the help of their band Hard Rain and several friends, Andy and Renee have also recreated a live performance of The Band’s legendary Last Waltz concert, and with James Lee Stanley staged a tribute to Neil Young. Andy and Renee have also won numerous performance and songwriting awards and are currently working on their tenth CD. And just in time for this year's Dylan Fest, is their just released DVD of the 2009 Dylan Fest.
Find Dylan Fest performances on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=pffriel22&view=videos