This year's Duluth Dylan Festival featured a concert from Joan Osborne, whose most recent album, Songs of Bob Dylan, paid tribute to Duluth's native son.
A close-to-capacity crowd gathered at Sacred Heart Music Center on May 23rd to see Osborne, backed by seasoned musicians (and the album's co-producers) Keith Cotton on keyboards and Jack Petruzelli on guitar.
Local trio Coyote opened the evening with a set of originals. Before their last song Jerree Small joked, "We're going to play a Dylan tune. Dylan Thomas," before launching into Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep it with Mine."
Osborne strode confidently onstage to open her set with "The Mighty Quinn." She ran through the songs from the album but also included some "bonus" Dylan covers that hadn't made it onto the disc, including "Don't Think Twice, it's All Right."
In the midst of her set Osborne paused to talk for a moment about the power of music to get us through difficult times. Later, introducing the first non-Dylan song of the evening, an original from a new album she hopes to release in the fall, she referred back to those remarks, saying it's what she had in mind when writing the tune.
At the end of the set the audience cheered, clapped, and stomped for an encore. Osborne and Petruzelli returned to the stage for a stirring, stripped-down rendition of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." Midway through, Osborne gestured to the balcony, and Cotton unexpectedly joined in on the venue's majestic Felgemaker organ. It was a spine-tingling and unforgettable moment that left many audience members in tears.
Osborne ended the evening with her biggest hit, "One of Us," gesturing to the formerly sacred space surrounding her as she broke into the song imagining God in human form.