Bob Dylan, getting ready for his first American tour since 1983, told reporters last week that every song he sings is a protest song. Dylan's 23-city tour, with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, includes a July 6 stop at RFK Stadium. That's one of four dates Dylan and Petty will share with the Grateful Dead.
Asked what types of things singers should be protesting in the '80s, Dylan replied, "Other people's behavior and maybe their own behavior."
Dylan, whose comments during his Live Aid performance last summer sparked the Farm Aid concert, also said he leaves it to his listeners to uncover the meaning of his songs. "You know, everybody sees a different message, I guess, so you have to figure out what it is," he said. "It's like looking at a painting and everybody sees something different."
Dylan and Petty, who first got together during Farm Aid, recently finished a tour of Japan, New Zealand and Australia. During that tour they recorded a new Dylan song, "Band of the Hand," the title song of the new action film from "Miami Vice" producer Michael Mann.
The summer tour, with separate and combined sets, will run from June 9 to July 19, though promoters said more dates might be added and the tour might continue in other countries.
Earlier this month Dylan received a Founders Award from ASCAP, the performing rights organization, which tallied about 2,500 covers of Dylan songs. At the ceremony he was overheard talking about putting together a new supergroup featuring Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood, the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde and four backup singers. Dylan also mentioned that he would like to meet with President Reagan during the East Coast leg of the tour.
Rapping With the Dinka Dunker
The rap on Manute Bol is great defense, nonexistent offense, so it's little wonder that the rap song about Manute Bol is called "Block the Ball." The recently released 12-inch single kicks off with the voice of Cap Centre announcer Marv Brooks introducing Bol into the lineup and then gets into a standard -- and, thankfully, fairly clever -- rap tune loosely based on the "Beverly Hillbillies" theme ("If you thought I was lyin'/ I thought he was flyin'/ When he jumped up in the air/ it was Kareem he was defyin' "). And "Block the Ball" has just the right kind of macho onomatopoeia for rap success; the only thing that dates it is that the coach mentioned is Gene Shue.
The record, now available in local stores, won't remind anyone of Nils Lofgren's championship season ditty, "Bullets Fever," but it's kind of fun. Featuring rapper Frank Rodriguez, saxophonist Larry Seals and guitarist Tony Contee, it was written by Bullets sales rep Mark Tabron, who studied music at Howard University and has performed with several local bands. "I've watched Manute from beginning to end," says Tabron. "He was such an underdog -- 'too skinny, too weak' -- and then he proved them wrong. He's a real nice guy and his playing did improve tremendously."
According to Tabron, Bol likes the rap, and none of the other Bullets has shown signs of envy. Of course, there's a video (part rap, part highlights) in the works; it was previewed at the regular-season finale against the 76ers.
Dark Days on the Club Scene
The club scene, which was looking up a few weeks ago, is looking shakier again. The Copa in Springfield pulled the plug the day before its first scheduled concert, and owner Frank Polar apparently came close to doing the same thing at the new East Side club at 1824 Half St. SW. However, booking agent Mike Jaworek says the East Side is going ahead with the three concerts scheduled, starting with Sunday's Flock of Seagulls show, a Lords of the New Church/American Girls double bill next Wednesday and a Bobs date Thursday.
Polar's partner at the East Side, Tom Keely, concedes that the three dates will be "testing the waters to see whether the public is willing to come down. If it proves good, we'll keep doing it." The concerts will be in the downstairs room while work continues on the upstairs, where Keely hopes to provide exposure for local bands while occasionally bringing in national acts.
Keely was, he admits, "a little surprised" by Polar's last-minute change of mind. "We set down a format for the way the club would go, and Frank and I were totally in alliance. But then Frank seemed to want to go another way." For now, they remain partners, with Keely alone running the club and helping Jaworek with the band bookings.
And though Ted Liu's has closed, booker Michael Mann has moved his mostly local band operation to Babe's on upper Wisconsin Avenue. A decade ago, Babe's was one of a dozen clubs in a healthy local circuit that included Columbia Station, Desperado's, Mr. Henry's and the Far Inn.
Marathons & 'Lovedolls'
Recently, the hard-core band Gone, featuring Black Flag founder Greg Ginn, set what band members hope will be accepted as a Guinness Book world record, playing 13 sites in Los Angeles in a single day. Now the band, which will play with Black Flag and Painted Willie at the 9:30 club on Monday, will go for an East Coast record, performing 30-minute shows at four Penguin Feather locations (Vienna, Springfield, Laurel and Georgetown) before heading down to the club.
Meanwhile, Painted Willie's David Markey has released the follow-up to his cult film, "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls." Titled "Lovedoll, Superstar," it features Bangles guitarist Vicki Peterson, who said recently her role grew out of a 15-second cameo in the first film.
"My character is a takeoff on Jeannie, the freedom school teacher in 'Billy Jack.' I inject thoughts of love and peace and nonviolence to the main character in the film, Rainbow Tramaine, a granola-eating hippie who's going to the big bad city to find his twin brother, who's been murdered by the Lovedolls, who will be the first female band in space."