Back when Bob Dylan wasn't yet old, the music industry was intent on burdening word slinging young songwriters with the 'New Dylan' tag. As Loudon Wainwright III put it in "Talkin' New Bob Dylan Blues": "Yeah, I got a deal and so did John Prine, Steve Forbert and Springsteen, all in a line / They were lookin' for you, signin' up others, we were new Bob Dylans, your dumb ass kid brothers."
On Friday night at the Merriam Theater, the 66 year old Prine - that's him, pictured - will be the first old, new or actual Dylan in town this weekend. The vividly visual, dryly witty songwriter is sort-of touring behind his 2011 release The Singing Mailman Delivers, a collection of live material recorded before his first album came out in 1971 which takes its title from a review written by Roger Ebert at the time about Prine, who delivered mail to pay the bills before going pro. Sarah Jarosz opens. Show details here.
On Sunday, a New Dylan of more recent vintage, 32 year old Conor Oberst, will play another august Avenue of the Arts venue: the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall. On a 2009 Prine tribute album, Oberst sang his elder's "Wedding Day In Funeralville." Hear a live version of that here. Read my interview with Oberst from Thursday's Inquirer here. Daniel Johnson opens for Oberst at the Kimmel. Ticket info here.
And finally, on Monday, the old original New Dylan - Dylan himself - makes his annual area appearance. This time its in support of a new album, Tempest, which contains a really long song about the Titanic and some great other stuff besides. The new Bob, quite different from the old Bob, will be strumming and singing at the Wells Fargo Center, with former Dires Straits frontman Mark Knopfler, who produced Dylan's 1983 quite excellent Infidels. Expect Knopfler to sit in with Dylan for a few songs, and also to play "Sailing To Philadelphia," his 2000 song inspired by Thomas Pynchon's novel Mason & Dixon. Dylan-Knopfler ticket info here.