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Christa Lawler, Forum News Service, Published June 03 2013

Dylan to play Duluth with Wilco, My Morning Jacket

DULUTH, Minn. - After years of tour-watching, speculation and crossed fingers, it’s happening: Bob Dylan will perform in Duluth.

The Duluth-born, Hibbing-raised singer-songwriter will play a show that starts at 5:30 p.m. July 9 at Bayfront Festival Park as part of a tour with Wilco, My Morning Jacket and Richard Thompson, according to Mayor Don Ness, who announced the concert at a media conference at the park.

Tickets are $68 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at Ticketmaster outlets including ticketmaster.com and the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center box office. The tickets are general admission.

Ness called the lineup — dubbed the “Americanarama Festival of Music” — one of the biggest tours in the nation this summer and “a historic night for our community.”

Dan Russell, executive director of the DECC — which manages Bayfront Festival Park —estimated that the park has a capacity of 12,500. There are no chairs allowed at the event. Russell wasn’t sure whether to expect it to sell out.

Getting Dylan to Duluth has been a constant conversation, according to Russell.

“(This concert has been) in the works since 1998,” he said. “We’ve come close many times.”

Dylan watchers might have noticed a Duluth-sized gap in the “Americanarama” tour schedule. The bands will be in Ohio on July 6 and 7 and, until Monday’s announcement, the next concert in the tour was July 10 at Midway Stadium in St. Paul, where Dylan played in front of 12,000 fans in the mid-2000s.

The tour, which is heavy on outdoor venues, starts June 26 in West Palm Beach, Fla., and ends in early August in California.

Dylan last played Bayfront Festival Park in 1999 with Paul Simon, the concert where he said one of his most grasped-upon quotes about Duluth:

“I was born on the hill over there. Glad to see it’s still there.”

About 20,000 fans saw the show, former park manager Lou Campbell told the News Tribune in 2010. The concert was held before renovations at Bayfront Festival Park.

Dylan also performed at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Arena in 1998.

Bayfront Festival Park has become a regular stop for six-man Chicago band Wilco, which last played the venue in July. It has become an ongoing joke that Wilco is an honorary Duluth band, which front man Jeff Tweedy played on when he asked for the keys to the city during the show.

(Ness responded by riding on the shoulders of music fans to the stage, where he presented Tweedy with a drawing of a key).

Tweedy also produced Low’s most recent album and Wilco guitar player Nels Cline plays on Retribution Gospel Choir’s most recent album.

My Morning Jacket is an Americana band fronted by the smooth retro voice of Jim James. It’s most recent album, “Circuital,” was released in 2011.

Richard Thompson, a British songwriter and guitarist who was in folk-rock band Fairport Convention, was recently nominated for two awards from the Americana Music Association: Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for “Good Things Happen to Bad People,” from the album “Electric” released earlier this year.

“Folks who love Americana will really get a kick out it,” Ness said.

This summer promises to be among the biggest at the park.

Ness announced last week that Nicholas David, a finalist on “The Voice,” will play Fourth Fest in addition to already scheduled concerts including Trampled By Turtles and Atmosphere on June 29 and Cloud Cult, Mason Jennings and The Kingston Trio, scheduled for the Twin Ports Bridge Fest on July 6.