DYLANesque: The Bob Dylan story

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DYLANesque: The Bob Dylan story

Bob Dylan: poetic songwriter, singer and musical influence has inspired the lives of many, but maybe not as much as Jeff Jenkins, who has taken it upon himself to create a Bob Dylan tribute show dedicated to the life, music and influence of the great man.

“Whether he wanted to or not, he ended up being the spearhead of such a radical change in history and he also basically wrote the blueprint on how to write a song, so the whole experience about Bob Dylan is just fascinating to me anyway…I reckon anybody out there who writes a song owes a debt to Bob Dylan because he basically invented the formula.”

Jenkins has always had a passion for music, beginning his musical career in the Australian Boy’s choir at the tender age of seven, travelling across Australia and the globe performing.

“I learnt a lot about singing harmony and an appreciation of singing; singing isn’t as easy as we all might make it look. There’s quite a bit of technique involved if you want to make it work, and harmonies are a real kind of thing that I’ve made a big deal of in my performing life, so the choir was great.”

Once he was 13 and his voice had broken, Jenkins moved away from the choir and transitioned into bands, spending his time toying with lyrics and music in the garages of mates place’s. From there he made his way into the word of theatrical arts.

“I met with one of my mates much after we had both left the choir and we sort of started hanging around and he goes ‘I’m going to start doing these dance classes’ and I said ‘well I’ll come along and I started doing it’ and all of a sudden I’m auditioning for things like West Side Story and other auditions, and I’m getting them and it was like ‘hang on, how did I get here’?”

One of his biggest roles and proudest achievements to date is being a part of the original Australian cast of Cats, where he met his late wife, Michelle Fawdon who went on to become the mother of his child and ultimately put the breaks on his theatrical career. Sadly Michelle passed away and it was then that he started writing music again, forming another band which led him to DYLANesque.

“Michelle died of cancer about six years ago now which was devastating for both Lulu and I, but out of that I started writing songs and formed my own little band called the Dukes of Despair and we were performing my original tunes, and pretty much after all of the gigs some monkey from the audience would come up to me after the show and say ‘you sound like Bob Dylan,’ and I had a little lightbulb moment and thought maybe I should do something with that, maybe I should see if I can put a show together.”

Any Bob Dylan book, movie, interview; you name it, Jenkins has read, seen or heard it. He says he almost drove himself crazy researching Dylan and preparing for the show.

“I’ve read, watched and listened to a lot of stuff and I wasn’t actually a huge fan. I was across his work and appreciative of the breadth of his work, but the more I delved into it, the more and more I became a bigger fan, I became so in awe of him as a song writer and as a person.”

Jenkin’s hope for the tribute show is to continue doing what he loves and being able to showcase that legend that is Bob Dylan in his own unique and talented way.

“I hope we can continue to travel around the country and play. I imagine that it would be nice to see it in the bigger Melbourne theatres one day, the State Theatre or somewhere cool like that, but right now it’s just an absolute joy and and honour to keep performing it.”

When & Where: Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts, Ballarat – June 10; Kyneton Town Hall, Kyneton – June 16; GPAC, Geelong – June 17; Riverlinks Eastbank, Shepparton – July 2.

Written by Molly Slater