Posted on May 26, 2006

“I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now,” Bob Dylan sang in “My Back Pages” back in the summer of 1964.

Wednesday, Dylan celebrated his 65th birthday, and at 7 tonight a who's-who of the Capital Region music scene will gather at the Old Chapel on Schenectady's Union College campus to pay tribute to the Voice of a Generation.

Once a reclusive, confounding interviewee, Dylan seems to have opened up considerably in the past year or so. First, there was his surprisingly revealing book of memoirs, “Chronicles, Vol. 1.” Then there was “No Direction Home,” a four-hour documentary on his early life and music directed by Martin Scorcese. Dylan actually sat down and chatted extensively — on camera, no less — for the show, which aired last fall over the course of two nights on PBS as part of the “American Masters” series. Look for WMHT Ch. 17 to rerun the shows next month.
The latest development on the Dylan front is his new radio show, “The Theme Time Radio Hour,” which is beamed out weekly to subscribers of XM Satellite Radio at 10 a.m. Wednesdays and repeated frequently. Each week's show concerns a different theme: weather, mother, drinking and this week's topic — baseball.

Dylan spins a dizzyingly eclectic bunch of tunes — last week's show about drinking included tunes by Loretta Lynn, John Lee Hooker, Charles Aznavour, Electric Flag, the Clancy Brothers, Hank Williams Jr. and the Andrews Sisters, for example. And he chats about the music and the artists in between tunes. He tells jokes. He rambles a bit, charmingly so.

It's my new favorite listening hour of the week.

Tonight's show at Union College is “No Direction Home: The Eighth Annual Bob Dylan Birthday Celebration,” and among the many performers paying tribute to Dylan are No Outlet (who actually kick off the festivities with an outdoor performance at 4 p.m.), bluesman Mark Tolstrup, the reunited Wood, Frank Jaklitsch, Steven Clyde and Son, Circle of Willis, Ross Marvin, the Nude Uilleanns, Rob Skane, the Decadent Royals, Folding Sky, Zimmerbeat, Tom Raider, Breakin' My Art and many others.

Admission is free, and there's even free birthday cake.