A New Twist on Dylan; VETERAN Rocker Steve Gibbons Will Be Honouring Bob Dylan at the Sage Gateshead This Week. RON CLARKE Finds out More

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FIRST things first. The Dylan Project is a labour of love and not a tribute band. "No, we don't try on Dylan masks or anything like that. It is just our interpretation of his songs," explains Steve Gibbons.

"It is no exaggeration to say that the first time I heard Bob Dylan, it changed my life. I was working with my band The Uglys and we were booked for a month at a little club called The Kon-Tiki in Munster, Germany. "It was a hard slog. We lived at the back of the club in a one-room billet and played six nights a week for four hours between 9pm and 2am, at which time a young American named Peter took over and played records.

"His excellent taste was all the persuasion we needed to linger longer and drink away most of our wages until the wee small hours.

"Anyway, at one such session he called me over and said, 'You ever heard of this guy? I got this in the post from the States'. The guy was Bob Dylan, the album was The Freewheelin Bob Dylan. Track one, side one, the voice made me tingle. The song made me shiver. The moment is frozen."

So it was a simple and happy twist of fate when Steve caught up with old mate and band member Dave Pegg a few years ago. Their collective enthusiasm for the legendary singer took over and Bob's your uncle. They decided to record an album of Dylan songs.

They lined-up with Pegg's fellow Fairport Convention musicians Simon Nicol and Gerry Conway, alongside John Bundrick and PJ Wright, to spread the word and The Dylan Project was formed.

"We like to get together at this time of the year and go out on tour as the Dylan Project. Whatever transpires from this endeavour it will be a labour of love for all concerned."

So as far as Steve is concerned the times may have changed since those early days but his admiration for the American legend has not dimmed. If anything it has got even bigger.

"The man is just amazing. And the word troubadour really does apply to him. He is on stage somewhere in the world almost every night. It is an incredible schedule. Maybe he just doesn't like being at home.

"But he is one of the great survivors. He has stayed the course. Others have been and gone or had world tours with large gaps in between. He just keeps going. …