Two living legends took to the stage at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va. Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples played to a capacity crowd which proves that their music has an enduring appeal. Indeed it was a diverse crowd that came out to see these two giants of music who not only have a huge footprint in the music world but as members of a generation that fought for freedom.
The summer tour promotes Bob Dylan’s latest album, Fallen Angels, released in April of this year. Having been friends for years (he once proposed) he is touring with Mavis Staples, who seamlessly meshes R&B and gospel and is a long time civil rights activist.
At age 76, Mavis Staples still knows how to put on a impressive show that includes the perennial hit by the Staples’ Singers, “I’ll Take You There.” What makes Staples performance so commendable is that she really sings! Her tone and harmonies are and she lets out the occasional growl that further reinforces that time has been kind to her musical gift. Although it was a humid and hot day, Mavis Staples was full of energy. She also reminded the crowd of her civil rights pedigree and that she marched from Selma to Montgomery with Martin Luther King, Jr. and that the memory of that struggle is not over. “I was there,” she tells us, “And I’m still here!” Recently named as a Kennedy Center honoree, Mavis Staples has been bringing her brand of music to the masses for more than century.
Bob Dylan took to the stage and maintained his mystique, often shifting in low lights between songs so those who wanted a picture of their musical hero would merely catch a silhouette.
Dylan gave the audience a flurry of old classics, such as Irving Berlin’s What’ll I Do from and Sinatra’s “I’m A Fool to Want You,” “All or Nothing at All” and “Autumn Leaves.” Harkening back to the Dylan of the 1960s he delivered “She Belongs to Me” (1965), a pulsating rendition of “Tangled up in Blue,” and of course, the freedom anthem “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
The evening was a night to remember the signfigance of these larger than life legends and a night to remember that the world is that much better because of the music of Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples.