Sound Check: Concert to pay tribute to Bob Dylan

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal pop music writer

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Akron/Canton Singer-songwriter Ryan Humbert and his band will perform the music of Bob Dylan at Tangled Up In Dylan at the Akron Civic Theatre on Saturday night.

On Saturday night, one of the hardest-working singer/songwriters on the local scene will pay tribute to Bob Dylan — one of his musical heroes.

Ryan Humbert and his band (Erin Vaughn, Emily Bates, Ben Evans, Matthew Middleton, Dan Nauss and Michael Houff) will perform a special cabaret-style show at the Akron Civic dubbed Tangled Up in Dylan. It will be an evening of Dylan classics and fan favorites spanning much of the rock icon’s 50-plus year career.

Opening the show will be Canton singer/songwriter Cody J. Martin.

Humbert’s been doing what he calls his “classic artist” series for several years now and he has done shows performing the music of other icons including Roy ­Orbison, Hank ­Williams, Woody Guthrie and the Everly Brothers. The idea must be a good one as Humbert said the Orbison and Williams shows were so popular that the band wound up doing five performances of each of those artists’ material.

Of course, one of the difficulties in trying to put together a 60- to 90-minute set of Dylan tunes is where do you start with an artist who has published more than 450 songs — many of them beloved by his obsessive fan base?

“It was really hard to pick the songs for this show,” Humbert wrote in an email. “His three Greatest Hits albums [are] as likely a place as any. That said, I started with over 900 songs on my computer including every studio album plus every bootleg series album. I worked it down to 78 songs, then down to 29.

“That’s really the best I could do to make a show that truly covers all aspects of his songwriting and career.”

Among Humbert’s favorite Dylan albums are iconic ’70s classics Blood on the Tracks and Street Legal, ’80s albums Oh Mercy and the less popular Shot of Love and the 1997 Grammy album of the year Time Out of Mind.

Don’t worry, casual Dylan fans; there will be plenty of well-known hits included in the 30-song set. Fans can expect to hear Mr. ­Tambourine Man, Tangled Up in Blue, Blowin’ in the Wind, All Along the Watchtower, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door and Like a Rolling Stone.

But Humbert also promises a few tunes for the Dylanophiles such as Abandoned Love, Blind Willie McTell, Mississippi, Going, Going, Gone and Mama, You Been on My Mind.

As with many Dylan fans, Humbert admires not just the talent but also the man and the mystique.

“He is such a strong figure; accessible in all his mysteriousness,” he said.

“Dylan is so much more than a singer-songwriter. Much like Johnny Cash, there’s a whole mystique and persona around him. I don’t think anyone will ever really figure out who Bob Dylan truly is. I think he likes it that way.”

Tangled Up in Dylan is just one of the ways Humbert, who seemingly plays somewhere within a 40-mile radius of Akron nearly every week, works hard to keep things fresh for the band and fans.

He has performed a rooftop concert in Canton, been at the center of an elaborate Christmas show that boasts a 65-piece band and played at Blossom and the House of Blues Cleveland in the same night tailed by a loaded bus of fans.

Next up for Humbert is a show at the Hoppin’ Frog Brewery in Akron next Thursday night followed by a Saturday evening show at the Cellar 59 Wine Bar & Boutique in Stow.

Also, Humbert and the band recently completed the recording of their next album in Nashville. It will be released later this year by his new label, the Nashville-based Century Music Group.

“There’s some super cool stuff on there we can’t wait for people to hear. We certainly have some big plans in store once it’s released,” Humbert said.

Bob 2’s family needs help

The surprise and sad passing of Devo keyboardist/guitarist/utility man Bob Casale, aka Bob 2, was a shock to his friends, family and fans around the world. Now, in the aftermath, friends of the Casale family are asking for help with the family’s finances.

Casale left no will and had no medical insurance to help his family defray the costs and the family is using to enlist help. Here’s the official announcement:

“Robert Casale - Born: July 14th, 1952. Deceased: February 17th, 2014.

“This page was created to help the Casale family with expenses related to the passing of Robert ‘Bob 2’ Casale of the band DEVO.

“These expenses are not limited to funeral expenses, but also include recent medical/hospital bills, and for the general family expenses in the absence of Bob. This has hit the Casales hard. We are doing everything we can as friends of the family to soften the impact of Bob’s untimely death.

“This official donation page is being managed by Michael Pilmer, DEVO’s assistant & web site manager, who has worked with the band for over a decade. Although Michael is managing this page, all gifts will go directly to The Casale Family.”

The page has been up for 10 days and so far 289 fans and friends from around the globe have donated more than $17,000 to help out the Casale family during this heartbreaking time in their lives.

If you want to help out, point your inter-Google machine to

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online, at, or follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.

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