Good luck and good tunes with Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan visited the East Kootenay on August 14 to perform for a sold out, enthusiastic crowd – here's how it happened behind the scenes.

Bob Dylan and his crew have come and gone, and they’ve viewed the Kootenay  landscape glowin’, gleamin’ in the golden light of day.

Kootenay Concert Connections promoter FJ Hurtak who helped bring Dylan and company to Cranbrook, said the it was a lot of work, but well worth the effort.

“It was the concert of the century, if you were a Bob Dylan fan,” he said. “Even at 71, I gotta say this, he still knows how to rock.”

He acknowledged that some concert-goers had difficulty understanding the lyrics, but Hurtak said it’s always been Dylan’s style.

“I couldn’t understand what he was singing in the ‘70s,” he admits.

Hurtak said the highlight of the evening for him was walking into the arena at 7:33 p.m., minutes before Dylan walked onstage, and feeling the energy.

“You could feel the electricity in the building before the show started,” he said.

But then, Dylan walked onstage.

“At that point the crowd went absolutely crazy,” he said. “That for me was the highlight of the evening.”

The entourage of buses arrived overnight Sunday before the show, but the staff at Western Financial Place had already been hard at work. Local workers installed the centre’s portable stage that was purchased a few years ago. Hurtak said the local staff was fast and professional, considering the Rob and Scott Niedermayer Hockey Camp was in the building just hours before they had access to it.

“They can set that thing up and take that thing down in their sleep,” Hurtak said.

Then Dylan’s crew stepped in around 8 a.m. Sunday to set up their own sound equipment and instruments, while the man himself stayed back at the St. Eugene Mission Golf Resort and Casino. Hurtak said that was a closely guarded secret. The buses rolled in to the resort rather than the arena parking lot, where it was expected they would be.

When it was time to head out to the show, Hurtak said the Dylan crew was shocked by the breathtaking scenery.

“You look East and there’s the sun coming over the Steeples,” he said. “A lot of them were taken back by the beauty of the East Kootenay.”

Hurtak said he got a brief hello in to Dylan himself as he was preparing for the show, but noted that after dazzling the crowd in Cranbrook, he simply picked up his bag and left the building discreetly.

“He’s like Elvis – when the show’s over, he leaves the building right away,” Hurtak said.

Some fans reported getting a wave from Dylan as he left Western Financial Place for his bus.

The Dylan concert wouldn’t have gone ahead if it hadn’t been for a bit of good luck. Western Financial Place was booked solid – save for the night of August 12. There were hockey camps on either side of the event.

“Good luck played into this scenario,” Hurtak said.

Early on in negotiations, it looked like the show might not go ahead, but as Hurtak toured with Steve Earl in the West Kootenay, he got a call that things were back on.

“Twice we thought this thing was dead in the water,” he said.

Once the show was confirmed and the Dylan camp happy, Hurtak said it was time to sell tickets. There were 3,600 seats sold, and on August 12, it was a full-capacity crowd.

Looking back, Hurtak said there was one small thing they would change to help out security and ensure everyone had a chance to see and enjoy the concert.

“If we had to do it all over again, we wouldn’t put 1,000 seats on the floor,” he said.

Hurtak said the Dylan performance could help put Cranbrook on the map as a destination for concerts, a status that has already been proven before with Johnny Reid, ZZ Top and more great bands that have come through.

“I don’t know if you can get much bigger than Bob Dylan,” Hurtak said. “For Cranbrook, Bob Dylan is a feather in the cap.”