A local tribute band will perform ahead of Bob Dylan’s sold-out concert at the Tivoli Theatre on Sunday.
The Introverts are a collective of McCallie staff and self-proclaimed Dylanites-a term used to describe rabid, completist fans of Dylan’s music. For weeks, the band has been practicing a two-hour set of Dylan’s music, which will be played in Neural Alley, adjacent to the Tivoli Theatre.
The performance will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission to The Introverts show is free.
Although the group is technically not opening in an official capacity for Dylan’s show, they hope to foster an electric atmosphere in celebration of his appearance in Chattanooga.
The Introverts are Frank “Paco” Watkins (guitar), Bob Bires (guitar), Abigail Roberts (bass), Jerry Ferrari (drums) and Jeff Kurtzman (keyboards). The name of the band is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek nod to their tendency to be introverted, shy performers.
They discovered a mutual love for Dylan’s music and gathered for a “Dylan night” to simply play some songs and have a good time. Once they found out Dylan was performing in Chattanooga, the group decided to do something special.
“We are excited he’s coming to town,” Kurtzman said. “He hasn’t been here in 11 years, and we thought it would be fun to welcome him … [and] thank him for coming.”
Kurtzman said it started out as a joke-opening for Dylan-but as they continued to meet and play, the songs came together and a location was secured.
Dylan does not typically have other artists open for his shows, but the Nobel Prize winner is known for wandering around near venues before his concerts. Kurtzman hopes to entertain fans with their set, but a part of him hopes Dylan might pop by himself and hear some tunes.
“We thought there was a chance that Bob would walk by and give us a wry smile, or he might order us to be shut down immediately,” he said. “We really don’t know.”
The Introverts are preparing a set of Dylan tunes spanning his entire career. Songs like “My Back Pages,” “Lovesick,” “Everything Is Broken” and “Things Are Changed” will be highlighted.
The group will take turns singing songs, imitating Dylan’s signature raw and complex vocal style.
“Dylan songs tend to be pretty easy to play and also, for me, they’re the easiest to sing,” he said. “Abby is a good singer, and the rest of us do what we can. If you do your best Dylan impersonation, you don’t have to be in key or anything.”
For Kurtzman, both Bruce Springsteen and Dylan are pillars in his musical world. Like many others, he was introduced to Dylan’s music early, although it took hearing a specific version of “My Back Pages” to truly appreciate it. The version-from Dylan’s 30th anniversary concert-was a star-studded affair. Kurtzman said it changed his life.
“To me, that’s the song that made me start listening to real music,” he said. “It made me think about music as more than just a pop song, but as art that helps you understand life.”