By Max Sullivan
Patrick Coman’s For the Sake of the Song online series, taped monthly at Johnny D’s in Davis Square, will be featuring an old deity in the songwriting community this Sunday night. Coman and his team will be celebrating Bob Dylan’s birthday – technically on May 24 – but this time around it’s going to be a little different, as he’s teaming up with local folk station WUMB to present a group of solo acoustic performers.
The series did an episode on Bob Dylan about a year and a half ago, but because of the of the recent outreach by WUMB, which plays a heavy amount of Dylan influenced folk music, as well as the fact that it’s Dylan’s birthday month, it seemed like a good idea to hold off on what was originally planned to be a Rolling Stones themed evening and put on a subtler celebration of folk’s undeniably greatest hero.
Coman commented on how important Dylan is, not only to the folkies, but to all songwriters. “Whether it’s his songwriting style, topical songwriting,” Coman said, “He has the chain of the folk genre, but also expanding the folk genre by going electric. Whatever direction he’s gone, there’s some trail that Bob Dylan’s paved for you.”
In particular, Coman appreciates Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man from 1965’s Highway 61 Revisited, and Blood on the Tracks’ closer, Buckets of Rain, from 1975. Of course, there’s Like a Rolling Stone, too, undeniably one of the best songs of the 60’s. Anyone who is familiar with For the Sake of the Song, though, will be ready to be surprised with some of the lesser known Dylan tracks that Coman and the musicians joining him will pull out.
On the bill for the evening will be Boston favorite Tim Gearan, who Coman described as an “institution.” Gearan, who has been playing in the Boston area for many years, including residencies as long as 15 years at places like Toad in Cambridge. Gearan has worked with many highly praised musicians, including Grace Potter.
Coman is excited to have someone as established as Gearan on the bill. “He’s been at it for a really long time around town, well regarded by other musicians,” Coman said. “If you walk around Somerville you see a lot of Tim Gerron stickers on people’s cars, so he’s definitely a local institution.”
Sunday’s show will be rounded out by three other local performers, this time around not including Coman and his Low-Fi Angels. Usually, they take the stage at the end of the night, but Coman said he’ll just be the MC on this occasion.
Having run on a monthly basis since January of 2012, Coman said he’s learned a lot from the show. For one, he’s experienced first hand how, when you put the right amount of effort into something, it has potential gain a lot of support, even when you might be prepared for a real struggle. It turned out for Coman that he found a lot of people who believed in what he was doing with the show, and Coman’s baby has grown to be a well-recognized local experience.
“From a personal perspective, one thing I’ve learned is if you can dream an idea and put it together, people will support you and help make it happen,” Coman said. “To have this idea and to watch it turn into a reality, that’s so thrilling.”
Coman’s also been surprised to find the support and appreciation that many artists have for the show. “To see how excited and warm so many performers are in town,” Coman said. “I would be hesitant to reach out sometimes. It shows to me how much people care about the music and the influences that have come before them.”