BobFest: A birthday tribute to Dylan

Musicians love to pay tribute. Whether it's a jazz artist interpreting a standard or a bar band busting out a KISS cover, it is every musician's inclination to acknowledge the contributions of those who have come before by playing their songs.


Sometimes it's more successful than others. It's all a question of interpretation, on the part of both the artist and the audience.

People have fickle relationships with beloved music, and when another artist chooses to interpret, in tribute, someone else's song, there's a lot that can go wrong. Stick too close to the blueprint, and copycat accusations get leveled. Stray too far and purists begin to preach about the sanctity of the song. It can be a no-win situation.

Except in the case of Bob Dylan.

For some reason, there's something about Dylan songs that make them adaptable. It could be the relatively simple arrangements he employs. It could be his words-first approach to writing. Whatever the reason, a Dylan song, played earnestly, is notoriously hard to screw up. Hip-hop or hard rock -- Dylan is the man.

Augusta musician Bill Scoggins can prove my point. On Saturday, he will present the inaugural BobFest, a family-style concert featuring a variety of acts and celebrating the legacy of Bob Dylan (his 69th birthday was Monday). Bands booked include Scoggins' own Willie and the Hand Factory, Distaster and Taliaferro County Slim & Eddie Bo-Rat.

The concert takes place from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the gazebo at Lake Olmstead Park. It's an alcohol-free show so, although lawn chairs, blankets and the youngest of folk rock fans are urged, booze is not.

TV realities

Recently, television networks unveiled their fall season lineups. It was done with pomp and circumstance, with each new series being hailed as groundbreaking and a sure-fire hit.

There were police procedurals, such as the revamped Hawaii Five-0, and sitcoms, such as Matthew Perry's Mr. Sunshine .

The are legal dramas (Outlaw) and spy shows (Undercovers) and even the return of the prime-time soap (Lonestar). Everything is represented -- almost.

Conspicuously missing is the regular helping of often-crass and occasionally creative reality fare.

Nobody seems to be looking for love or a chance at stardom. Nobody will be getting a makeover or remodel or new family. Reality, it seems, is on the outs.

It should be noted that the big guns -- American Idol , So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars -- aren't going anywhere.

These shows still rank among the highest rated shows for any given week. But new reality programming, it seems, is scarce.

I can't say I'm surprised. I've noticed people becoming more cynical and savvy when it comes to reality shows. The concepts, which often deal with exploiting a weakness or personality flaw, seem to have started leaving viewers cold.

More significantly, the seed of doubt has been planted as to how real reality shows are.

Here's an example:

A camera catches a reality host entering a house, much to the surprise of the people living there.

Five years ago, most viewers would have accepted that as documentary, a true event. Today, most question how a family could remain unaware of the impending arrival when there is already a film crew in the living room.

I think we all know reality programming isn't going anywhere. It's cheap to produce and, when the concept strikes the public fancy, can be enormously popular.

But the gimmick has grown stale. It's time to give it a well-scripted rest.