News Column

Tribute to a legend

May 24, 2013


KATHMANDU, May 24 -- Although the 60s were considered Bob Dylan's heyday, even today, many decades since, the artist remains one of the most influential American musicians rock & roll has ever produced. And to celebrate the singer's 72nd birthday today, and to honour his unmatched legacy, the Summit Hotel will be holding a tribute concert-'Reminiscing Bob Dylan'-tonight on its premises, a musical exploration of the major events of Dylan's life. Taking you on this journey will be singer Sanyog Shahi, a long-time Dylan tribute artist, who will cover the best of the musician's songs throughout the evening, reminding us of just what made the man such a legend. Shahi talked to the Post's Sharthak Neupane about his long- standing love for Dylan, the act of paying tribute to such a larger- than-life figure, and requisite pre-show jitters. Have you been involved in music for very long?

I started playing when I was a kid. Me and my friends from St Xavier's School had actually formed an outfit called Flower Generation in 2001, and we'd even released an album, Flower Power. It was probably the first full-length English album out in Nepal. But all the members have now scattered.

You've been doing Bob Dylan tribute shows for a while now, what is that like?

It's been four years since I've been playing Dylan tribute concerts in Kathmandu. The first time was in 2010 when I was invited by Alok Maskey to perform at Jatra in Thamel. And since, I became a regular on their shows. I also had a solo performance last year at the Capital Grill in Bhatbhateni. It's a lot of pressure certainly, because you want to do justice to this amazing artist, but it's also a lot of fun, especially if you're a Dylan fan like me, to get to sort of step into his shoes for a night at a time.

So you're a big Dylan fan then?

Of course. I grew up listening to his songs; they were especially popular at our school in St Xavier's where the teachers would make us sing Blowin' in the Wind in class. His music is the sort that transcends generations, which is why you still find kids today discovering him and listening to him. I've personally never grown out of it.

What is your all-time favourite Dylan song, if you were forced to choose?

Blowin' in the Wind for sure. Not only was this the first Dylan song I ever heard, it was also the one that moved me the most. There is such poetry in that piece; it takes you to a different zone, makes you wonder about your place in the world. But then again, my list of favourite Dylan songs is fairly long as you can imagine, and I could probably rave on and on about each one in there.

Why do you think he was so influential?

Although he was writing about his time, and what he saw within his own social and cultural boundaries, he created music that was timeless. Even young kids, everywhere around the world, can still relate to what he wrote. He was a complete artist in many ways- amazing voice, beautiful music, lyrics that grabbed you and a magnetic personality overall.

So you're saying his popularity will persist over time? What about in the Nepali context?

There are a lot of big Dylan fans here in Nepal, and although a big chunk of the younger generation seems to prefer other genres like hip-hop and techno, I do think there are enough with an appreciation for his distinct brand of folksy rock. I don't think he's ever going to go out of style, because he was never in style- he just was.

The concert will start at 7:30 pm and will be accompanied by a barbeque dinner with an open bar. Tickets are Rs 1,599 apiece.

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