Dylan Tribute Show Spotlight Artist: Ryan Fitzsimmons

The second intro in the series is one of my all time favorite performers, songwriters, and just a hell of a good guy, Ryan Fitzsimmons. The dude plays with a passion unmatched anyone I have ever seen locally (I mean, he breaks like 37 strings a gig). Seeing his take on Dylan songs is going to be a real  treat as I am sure he will own them and really give you something you wouldn’t expect.

The details of that show are as follows: April 30th, JOHNNY Ds in Somerville (note venue change!), 7:30 PM


1)      So…Bob Dylan. How has listening to Dylan shaped you as a songwriter over the years?  Anything in particular stand out as steering  you down this road?

RF: I don’t think there is any single person who writes songs, stands up there with a guitar and sings them who was not shapedRyanFitzsimmonsPress2012_3 by Dylan in one way or another.  He is as essential and important to the american musical landscape as any single person can be, up there with Louis Armstrong, Elvis, Hank Williams, and very few others.  It’s impossible not to be influenced by him, directly or indirectly.

For me, it was seeing the solo performance of Tangled Up in Blue from the Rolling Thunder era on PBS in 1993 – it tagged the 30th anniversary concert.  I was 16.  That concert was amazing, everyone I’d ever heard of at the time just played the hell out of a Dylan tune.  But that older footage from the credits of Dylan always sticks with me, there was something so electric happening in that performance, that undefinable “it” that draws everyone and anyone in.  Who wouldn’t want to try to capture that for themselves?  I’ve been trying for 20 years.  That performance still blows me away, check it out:

2)      Favorite 3 Dylan songs…go!

RF: Oh come on now!  That’s not enough to cover half of what makes Dylan great.  I’ll start with:

“Tangled Up in Blue”, to me it’s the perfect story song, wrought with emotion and details but with enough missing pieces for you to draw your own conclusions.

“It’s All Over Now Baby Blue”,  Dylan is a brilliant melodicist.  He’ll warp you brain with twisted lyrics.  You may ponder the meaning forever and never realize the reason the lyrics effect you so profoundly is because the melody surrounding them has burrowed into your soul.  I’ve always found this song incredibly beautiful, with the perfect ratio of menace to melancholy, which is where Dylan is often at his best for me.

“Cold Irons Bound” – I love Time out of Mind, and I love Daniel Lanois’ production.  I wish Dylan would work with him again.  The album version of this song kills me.  The way it builds in with bass line and that deep drum groove is magical. It’s Dylan in his late-period blues-mode at it’s best.

485692_10150727133659440_1218749722_n3)      Without giving too much away, what are the reasonings behind your song choices for covering Dylan?

RF: Because no one else had already picked them for their own set.  Seriously, I’m not sure what tunes I’m doing as of yet.  I might not know until a few minutes before I get on stage.  That’s OK, the well is seriously deep.

4)      One thing that both Red Line Roots and For the Sake of the Song are keen on is community development and fostering. How have you seen that grow here in town over the years (or in your own music community?)? Do you think it has become stronger? Anything you’d like to see change?

RF: I think Red Line Roots and For the Sake of the Song have done a fantastic job bringing the local music community together.  These shows and this blog are great exposure for the local folks around here.  For the Sake of the Song is an excellent format, and draws in an audience that usually wouldn’t venture out to experiment with hearing some songwriter they do not know.  People like to know some of the tunes they are going to hear, and For the Sake of the Song manages to do that without having it become a typical cover gig.  It’s an awesome thing!


5)      Anything else, please plug away at anything you have going on personally as an artist that you would like to clue folks in on!
RF: I’ve always got 5 or 6 big ideas on the burner.  I hope to share them soon.  Check out the “Locals cover Locals” disc that Red Line Roots is about to release!  It’s very cool, and I cover Greg Klyma’s “Helen Rose” on it.  Greg knows more Dylan tunes than anyone I know.