BY BILLY SUTER
WESTVILLE and Hillcrest are to be treated to a show saluting six decades of the music and memories of folk protest poet and singer Bob Dylan when local singer-guitarist Oscar Swanlund presents The Times They Are a-Changing this month.
Dylan, recipient of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, has been performing on acoustic guitar and harmonica for 60 years, first picking up his guitar in 1959. Back then he was still known as Robert Zimmerman and performed his first major gig in New York, opening for blues artist John Lee Hooker in Greenwich Village.
It would be three years later before he recorded as Bob Dylan, his debut studio album having been released on March 19, 1962 by Columbia Records.
Durban-born singer-musician Swanlund first presented his Dylan tribute show in Pietermaritzburg in August, and is scheduled to perform it again at Musketeers at Westville’s German Club at 4pm on Sunday, September 16. Tickets (R60) are available at the door on the day, when full restaurant and bar facilities will be available.
Also catch the show at Le Domaine, Bon Chance restaurant, Hillcrest, at 6pm on Friday, November 23. Tickets (R60) are available at the door on the day, when full restaurant and bar facilities will be available.
“Dylan, James Taylor and Neil Young were main influences when I began taking guitar-playing seriously in the 1970s. My father, Ernie, was an exceptional harmonica player so I got schooled by the best to play the blues harp harmonica to combine my two favourite instruments,” says Swanlund.
His show features all the Dylan biggies, among them Mr Tambourine Man, Lay Lady Lay, Blowing in the Wind, The Times They are a-changin, Mr Bojangles, Don’t Think Twice and Jokerman.
Swanlund says he has had an “on-off” musical career, having started in a gospel band in Durban North, of which he was a member until 1986. He then moved to Harding to do missionary work and was involved in heading up the music scene there for a few years.
He settled in Port Shepstone towards the end of 1995, then picked up the guitar seriously again in 2008 when his son started playing drums.
“Then I met up with Dave Marks in 2010 and we started playing together. I also went on to play with Larry Amos fairly extensively in 2000/2001 – when he lived in Sheppie, we did a few gigs together.”
Swanlund has enjoyed two jam sessions with Julian Laxton (“I have the video clips”) and has also shared stages with Cindy Alter, Justin Sarrao, Nibs van der Spuy, Guy Buttery, Pierre de Charmoy and Greg Georgiades, among others
“Dylan’s challenging lyrics and outstanding acoustic-guitar playing, accompanied by that unique voice, have also had me hooked,” says Swanlund, who has been invited, in earlier years, to play gigs in Australia, the United States, the Middle East and Namibia.
He spent much of his adult life running an IT businesses on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, where he was a regular performer and host at the renowned Rock Music Bistro in Umzumbe, 15km outside of Port Shepstone.
Predominantly a solo performer who has mastered acoustic, electric and bass guitar and harmonica in the folk, folk rock and blues genres, he is a former member the band Jacob’s Saw.