the greatest music festival from the greatest music city in the world
In 1976 I was 17 years old. Two friends and I had read about BobDylan's Rolling Thunder Revue coming to Orlando, FL to the OrlandoSports Stadium. Orlando was a sleepy orange orchard back then. Disneyhad only arrived 4 years earlier in 1972. From what I understand theOSS was torn down years ago and a residential community sits on thesite.
We were a 3 kids from Savannah, GA and the thought of seeing Dylanlive was a near impossibility to us. He hardly ever played in the Southand he surely wasn't ever going to come to Savannah. So, we found outabout the RTR and Orlando and I immediately called and ordered ticketslong distance (remember that) directly to the OSS ticket office. Webought 3 and we couldn't believe. WE WERE GOING TO SEE DYLAN, LIVE! Sowe were on our way to south FL.
We get there and immediately go get our tickets. It was 35 years agoso I don't remember it that well but we finally found the venue. (Ifyou want to call it that.) It was a metal warehouse with notwindows! We thought this can't be the place. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez,Roger McGuinn, Mick Ronson, etc.. wouldn't play this dump. It was inthe middle of no-where. Well, lo and behold this warehouse actually hada ticket office. It was more like a window in the wall. I walked up andasked "am I at the wrong place or is Bob Dylan playing here tomorrownight?"
The lady in the window asked me for my claim check for $32 (yep 32,for 3 tickets). I forked it over and thought "man, I have been screwedon this one". Oh well, we were here. We'll play it out.
The next night we show up and the (of course) grass parking area wasfull. OK, so far so good. We hand over our tickets wondering what wewere walking into. This place was an indoor rodeo with dirt floors! Wehad driven 400 miles to see a friggin' rodeo!?
I have to describe the inside of this place. It looked likesomething out of a county fair where you would keep livestock. It was along, narrow building with sold sheet metal walls on 3 sides and thefar end (I believe) was open air. This was April (thank God). I can'timagine how hot this place would be in August. Dirt floors...you've gotto be kidding!
Typical food for a circus - hotdogs, popcorn, cokes. For all I knew they probably sold cotton candy.
We walked up to see if they sold beer. OMG, they sold 16oz draftbeer for 50 cents and 20oz for $1. My friends and I were all 17 but theOSS didn't seem to care. Well, this trip suddenly was on the upswing.
We walk into the arena trying to figure it all out and there it was-- a stage at the far end of the "barn". On it was a "Rolling ThunderRevue" banner. THIS WAS THE RIGHT PLACE! WE WERE GOING TO SEE DYLAN!!.Of course it had no seats on the dirt floor so we run up to get closeto the stage. We got to about 30 feet from it.
It was a long show.All of the stars played a set. Bob Neuwirthplayed 1st. We hadn't heard of him but, hey we had $1 beers. Then cameRoger McGuinn of the Byrds. He was great. recognized his obviousvoice. Then Joan Baez. ShE was great, too. But hey,i was here to seeDylan. & I was running out of Budweiser dollars.
Joan finishes her set and the place goes dark. the roadies arescampering arounf the stage checking leads, mikes, guitars, drums.keyboards...the whole works. This escapade went on for about 15minutes. Along the way a roadie walks up to one the guitars and checksto see if its in tune. OK OK lets get with it!
All of a sudden, the roadie starts strumming the beginning of Mr.Tamborine Man, JESUS! THIS WASN'T A ROADIE. IT WAS DYLAN! NOANNOUNCEMENT, NO LIGHTS, JUST DYLAN BY HIMSELF SINGING MTM N THE DARK.
Needless to say we were in nirvana being 30 feet from Bob Dylan. It was the best rock show experience of my life.
Now, afterm the show, we three hang out to finish our beers. therewas noone pushing us to leave so we hung out. We walked up to the stageand asked the 1st person we saw for anything of Dylan's. The guy turnedout to be Bob Neuwirth. He BS'd with us for 15 minutes. Finally I askedif he could get us Dylan's autograph. he said Dylan was gone but hegave us his. We talked a bit more and he suddenly says, I know what Ican give you guys.
He walks away for about 5 minutes. We figured he wasn't coming backbut we waited it out and he returned seeing us there. He reaches in hispocket and says here and hands us 3 guitar picks and says only Dylanused that kind of pick. We thought COOL. "I wonder if he used them." Naw, Neuwirth was probably trying to get rid of us.
We walked out to the car.I pulled the pick out of my pocket to just to look at it. It said.....
"MANNY'S Heavy" (It is identical to the picks that shower this website.)