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February 8, 2008


Stellar new exhibit, organized by Experience Music Project, showcases Bob Dylan material and media between 1956 and 1966, his formative years as an artist, poet, prophet and pop/folk/rock/blues chameleon

Photo by Barry Feinstein

To critics and fans the world over, the distinctly American body of work of Bob Dylan matches the legacies of Walt Whitman, Louis Armstrong and his own early hero, Woody Guthrie. Don't miss the Los Angeles presentation - and final stop - of this acclaimed exhibition, organized by Seattle's Experience Music Project.

The LA Report
attended the opening party for this new Skirball exhibit, and we can say hands down that you will love it - even more so if you are a Bob Dylan fan. At the opening party, a large crowd came to get the first glimpse at all the artifacts, as well as enjoy a wonderful assortment of food (amazing tomato soup, tuna casserole, pizza, broccoli and mushrooms for a fondue cheese dip, brownies and a chocolate dipping area, and more), libations, and even a great Dylan cover band called Highway 61 Revisited.

The exhibit itself is excellent -- thrilling, fun, inspiring and enlightening. Featuring more than 160 artifacts, including Dylan's handwritten drafts of classic songs, rare posters and a recording of his first concert, which has never been commercially released, Bob Dylan's American Journey, 1956-1966 focuses on the first (and some say best) decade of his long career. From his beginnings as Robert Zimmerman in the post-war industrial town of Hibbing, Minnesota, to his debut on the Greenwich Village folk scene, to his rise to unprecedented fame as the rockstar/poet who "electrified" contemporary songwriting, the exhibit chronicles Dylan's first ten years as a public figure, artistic innovator, and compelling voice of social conscience.

There are many booths and walls full of media to explore - photos, mementos, guitars, notes, videos, booths where you can hear every track of his first few albums at the push of a button, even an entire interactive-music section where you can remix Dylan ditties, play drums along with Dylan tunes, and even sing along with Bob. (I heard one attendee doing a not-bad Bob as he bobbed his head with high levels of enjoyment - a kind of personal grok concert, if you will.) And, when you first walk in the exhibit, there is the Wall of Covers - an eclectic international record collection of cover versions of one Dylan classic (Blowin' in the Wind) all mounted on the welcoming wall.

Bob Dylan's American Journey, 1956-1966. Skirball Cultural Center, on Sepulveda just off the 405 near Mulholland (just south of Mulholland, technically). Open til 9 on Thursdays. Exhibit runs Feb. 8 to June 8, 2008. The LA Report highly recommends it. Don't forget to see the Gift Shop, which has several cool Dylan items to buy; some are unique to the Skirball. ADMISSION: $10 General $7 Seniors and Full-Time Students $5 Children 2-12. Free to Members and kids under 2; Free to all on Thursdays. Includes admission to all other exhibits.