Short Cuts: Duluth Dylan Fest announces 2023 schedule

The boy born in Duluth as Bobby Zimmerman will be celebrated with nine days of concerts and conferences in May. An organizer says next year's event will likely be more concise.

People gather for the celebration for Bob Dylan's 76th birthday at his childhood home in Duluth
People gather to celebrate Bob Dylan's 76th birthday at his childhood home in Duluth in 2017.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Bob Dylan left Duluth over 75 years ago, but the city has never forgotten its most famous progeny. The Duluth Dylan Fest, the current umbrella for birthday celebrations that have been a local tradition for decades, will take place again this year across a sprawling nine-day period May 20-28.

Exterior view of Sacred Heart Music Center, an 1896 brick cathedral. In a nighttime view, lamps near the front door provide illumination while three spires stretch up into the darkness.
Duluth's Sacred Heart Music Center, as seen in November.
Jay Gabler / 2022 file / Duluth News Tribune

Even for Duluth, it's a lot. "Next year we will likely scale back to 4 days," wrote Laura Whitney, one of the festival's organizers, in an email to the News Tribune. This year, though, Dylan fans can enjoy events, including several concerts, spanning two full weekends.

Events will include a kickoff show at Earth Rider Festival Grounds in Superior (May 20); performances at Dylan's childhood homes in both Duluth (May 24) and Hibbing (May 21); and the annual Singer-Songwriter Contest at Sacred Heart Music Center (May 26).

Dylan experts presenting remarks at the festival include Seth Rogovoy, author of "Dylan: Mystic, Prophet and Poet" (via Zoom, May 21); Jeff Slate, who interviewed the artist himself for the Wall Street Journal (May 25); and podcast host Matt Steichen (May 27).

May 21 is designated "Hibbing Day," with a tour of the Iron Range city where Dylan lived for half of his childhood and all of his adolescence. Other events include tours of the Duluth Armory, where Dylan famously saw Buddy Holly perform, and a farewell brunch at Wussow's Concert Cafe.


“For anyone who is into local food and music and art and culture, it’s a fun way to dig a little deeper,” said Jason Wussow, of Wussow's Concert Cafe.

This spring bears other exciting news for local Dylan fans. Another book will be added to the vast pile of Dylanology this spring, and it puts a special focus on the Northland. "Bob Dylan in Minnesota: Troubadour Tales from Duluth, Hibbing and Dinkytown" promises firsthand accounts of the artist's Gopher State years. It will be published in the U.K. on April 26.

"The book will still be available in the US via Amazon Prime and can be ordered through booksellers," co-author K G Miles wrote in an email to the News Tribune. Steichen, another co-author, will be reading from the book during his Duluth Dylan Fest appearance.

Dylan was born at St. Mary's Hospital (now part of Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center) in Duluth on May 24, 1941. Last year, organizer Zane Bail told the News Tribune that "the Duluth Dylan Festival is like the State Fair of Dylan celebrations."

For details, including a complete schedule of events, see

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; he's also a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the Minnesota Film Critics Alliance. You can reach him at or 218-279-5536.
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