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Patti Smith discusses “special” Bob Dylan tribute concerts

The great Bob Dylan will celebrate his 80th birthday next week and, in tribute, Patti Smith joining forces with some familiar names to celebrate his legacy.

The singer-songwriter is scheduled to perform alongside her longtime bandmate Tony Shanahan on May 22nd, according to Rolling Stone. The concert takes place just two days before Dylan turns 80 on May 24th, with the pair due to perform “original songs and poetry as well as works by Dylan”. Attendance for the performance will be limited, and those who attend will have to be socially distanced.

The show is part of Kaatsbaan Cultural Park’s outdoor Spring Festival, held at a 153-acre campus in Tivoli, New York, across the last two weekends in May (20-23 and 27-30). It’s reported that the venue will be admitting less than three per cent of its usual capacity. There will be spaced-out seating, mandatory masks and timed arrivals all in place for the event.

Speaking about the shows, Smith said: “I’ve been up in Tivoli and it’s a very historic piece of land. It’s big, it’s beautiful up there. It’s a beautiful time of the year.”

“I wanted to do something there, something small, but I wanted to do something special. And I realised that we’re playing just two days before Bob Dylan’s birthday. And Bob Dylan will be 80 on the 24th. And so I thought it would be really nice to do a special thing for Bob.

“So, we’re going to do, I don’t know, five or six Bob Dylan songs and songs of my own and some poems and things like that. I wrote a couple of poems to Bob when I was young. I’ll figure out something special.”

Elsewhere in the Rolling Stone interview, Smith details her first meeting with Dylan back in 1974 after a live performance “And then he came backstage. I mean, I loved Bob Dylan since I was 16 years old and suddenly there he was,” she said.

“He comes in and says, ‘Hey, any poets back here?’ And I went, ‘I don’t like poetry’.”

Smith added: “It’s just like a kid in high school being mean to a girl because he really likes her. That’s what I was acting like.”