Spring Tour 2015 - by Caroline

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Some fortuitous timing seemed to be involved in Bob’s spring US tour announcement this year. It came on the heels of a decision to go to New Orleans for the second weekend of Jazz Fest; and while I’d miss the New Orleans Bob show by a couple of days, the following week lined up perfectly, with shows right next door in Texas and then a Tulsa show… that’s all on the way home to Denver from Louisiana, right?


It was much fun, as always, to travel new roads to see Bob. This was another tour comprised of shows in smallish, fancy, seated theaters. Not my number one choice for type of venue, but we managed really good seats for almost all of them and there is inarguably a nice pace to the trip when you have all day to explore, look for snakes and birds, find cool microbreweries and barbeque joints, and saunter in half an hour before show time.


First stop, Houston, at the same venue where Kait and I slept out for Bob… 12 years ago?!? Jeez. Time flies. That time it was GA (obviously – we weren’t just sleeping on the street in downtown Houston for kicks).  This time Mr. Jinx and I manage to score 2nd row center seats, so it’s a great way to kick things off. Though the song roster at these shows is identical to what Bob was playing last fall, with the new inclusion of Autumn Leaves off Shadows In The Night, there are, as always, differences to note. Duquesne Whistle now has the complete old-timey intro like on the album which features some fancy piano playing from Bob. Stu plays maracas on Early Roman Kings. There are new lyrics to Love Sick, along the lines of “You toyed with my heart then you ripped it apart; you went through my pockets while I was sleeping!”


At the start of set two, I notice High Water has a slightly slowed down bluesy arrangement, subtly different from last tour. Another small change is the addition of the word “brute” to a line in Tangled Up In Blue: “He used a little too much BRUTE force.”


The most changed song by a mile, however, is Long And Wasted Years, both lyrically and musically. It changes even during our time on the tour! The arrangement is slower, less defiant and more regretful; Bob doesn’t shout the words as much anymore. As if to offer a counterpoint to the more subdued musical tone, the new words are scathing. Most notably a directive about how “I’ll send you back to your ma and pa, let the vultures eat your body raw!” This verse is toned down a bit in San Antonio, changed to:

“Turn back, I’ll break your legs and strike you through the heart

Plant my heel in your chest

Maybe you’re no better than the rest”

OK, not very toned down, really.  


I definitely tune into the small things seeing ‘the same’ show multiple times; different moments, sometimes fleeting and sometimes lasting a whole song, stand out clearly night to night.  A line dropped during Soon After Midnight (“And the moon is in my eye”) and, in its place, an extra little gorgeous piano run. Working Man’s Blues #2 in San Antonio, where Bob seems to sing it with an extra dose of lament and commiseration with the common man, “I can’t saaaaaaave a dime!” The nod and laugh I get from Bob and Donny at that same show when I just can’t help myself and need to burst out of my seat and shake it hard for the last half of Beyond Here Lies Nothin’. Of all the songs that challenge me to keep my butt in my chair during these theater shows, it’s this one, with its slinky, groovy rhythm. San Antonio over all is a favorite. The Majestic Theater is over-the-top gorgeous, with cherubs and peacocks and all kinds of weird shit adorning the walls and rafters, and a ceiling of stars and clouds that rotate around when the music is playing, adding extra relevance when Bob sings, "The stars are spinning around." Bob seems to appreciate it too and I catch him glancing up and around more than usual. He puts his heart over his hand at the end of Long And Wasted Years tonight, looking out at us, and at the close of the prayer that ends each show now, Stay With Me, a side arm outstretched bids us goodnight.


Onward to Tulsa, where we’re staying at the Hard Rock Hotel  & Casino, where Bob is playing. Always fun to have accommodations literally at the venue!  The drive there rather sucks, with a trifecta of hassles: traffic jams around Dallas, construction, and weather that wants to kill us. We do see Bob on a billboard outside Dallas, pretty much the highlight. The 11 hour drive leads to a glorious late morning sleep the following day in a huge bed with 12, count ‘em 12 pillows. Shopping sales at western wear stores, ribs and Bourbon make for a great day waiting for our penultimate show for the tour.  There’s a really cool Bob thing on the wall in the Hard Rock, a signed and doodled on copy of an album “Woody Guthrie Sings Folk Songs.” On it Bob writes, “Here’s to Cisco, Sonny, Leadbelly, Bess and Jack Elliot too. They came first.” You've sure carried the torch admirably, Bob!


Along with San Antonio, my favorite of my five shows for this tour is Columbus. In no small part because that one’s with Kait, and it is always a special experience to share a show with my fan club co-director and partner in crime. The night started off with a Fan Club meet up at a place next door to the venue with numerous Ohio Bob peeps and a margarita as big as my head. Saw Joanna, Jay and numerous others inside the theater. Our second row seats are perfect, and thanks to our gracious guys for agreeing to take the ones further down the row so Kait and I could be together, and right on the aisle. Bob thanks you too! Much fun was had fun together, of course.   There were more jazz-handy gestures than usual (of course), and smiles, and even a double fisted point at us as we stood up and boogied for a bunch of High Water at the second half opening (we’d gotten encouragement to do so from the people sitting behind us, so thanks to them). The rest of the time we were engaged in some seriously enthusiastic chair dancing, two crazily bobbing heads and arms occasionally flying around. Awesome view of Bob at the piano, too, so those piano tunes that have come to be my sweet favorites – Waiting for You, Spirit on the Water, Soon After Midnight – were completely and utterly enchanting. During Waiting For You I feel suddenly as if I should scoop Kait up and start waltzing with her up and down the aisle. I resist, but that sure would have been funny.


Bob seems so happy and relaxed at this show. One of the new lines in Love Sick is changed from, “You toyed with my heart” to “You thrill me to my heart.” There is no more reference to “brute” force in Tangled. And, he completely drops the evolving verse mentioned above from Long And Wasted Years – it’s just gone.  Must be just feeling too mellow and contented tonight to bother with singing about breaking anyone’s legs.     




Bloody Mary and Bob
Desire Restaurant in New Orleans
Mr. Jinx gettin' serious about his BBQ
Ready for row 2!
Hard Rock Tulsa
Hard Rock Tulsa
Hard Rock Tulsa
Starting the day right in Athens, OH
Mr. Jinx with the girlie drink
Heading for another joint
Columbus after-show glow