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    Bob Dylan Expert to Discuss Folk Icon’s Connection to the Blues

    Jan 25, 2011

    During his nearly 50 years in the music business, Bob Dylan has been labeled the "voice of a generation and "America's Troubadour." He often is described as a genius, a music sensation who seemed to appear nearly out of thin air after being selected by a Greek muse to write lyrics that will be discussed and studied for generations. And he is always labeled as a "folk" artist.

    Bob Dylan records in a studioIn truth, one does not have to look half-way around the world to find the roots of Dylan's inspirations, says author Michael Gray. Dylan wasn't touched by a muse from Greek folklore, but rather by a muse from Mississippi - the blues.

    At 7 p.m. Feb. 23, Gray will discuss how the blues not only influenced Dylan's lyrics and music structure, but continues to have a heavy influence on modern American folk music. The lecture, titled "Bob Dylan and the Poetry of the Blues," will be held in the Janet Leigh Theatre on Pacific's Stockton campus. It is free and open to the public.

    Bob Dylan first rose to prominence as a folk artist because his early work was so reflective of that tradition in American music. Less obvious to many listeners is the deep indebtedness of his work to a number of pioneering American blues musicians like Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and The Rev. Gary Davis, ," said Conservatory of Music Professor David Chase. "Michael Gray will talk about how a lot of Dylan fans are really listening to the blues and not only music from the American folk revival."

    Gray is a critic, writer and broadcaster recognized as a world authority on the work of Bob Dylan, and is an expert on rock'n'roll history and the blues, with a special interest in pre-war blues. His pioneering study "Song & Dance Man," published in the 1972, was the first full-length critical study of Dylan's work. A second, updated edition was published in 1981. The massive third edition "Song & Dance Man III," included a 112-page study of Dylan's use of the blues. It was published in early 2000.

    Gray published the "Bob Dylan Encyclopedia" in 2006. That book won the International Association of Music Libraries' C.B. Oldman Prize for an outstanding work of reference and research. Most recently, Gray published "Hand Me My Travelin' Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell" in the United Kingdom in 2007 and in the United States in 2009. That book was nominated for the 2008 James Tait Black Prize for Biography and awarded an Association for Recorded Sound Collections Certificate of Merit in 2010 for a work of exceptional quality.

    The event is cosponsored by the Pacific chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the Associated Students of University of the Pacific, Pacific's Conservatory of Music, Marian Jacobs Literary Forum of the Stockton Art Commission, and numerous departments at Pacific including Writing in the Disciplines, Sociology, English, and Ethnic Studies.