With the latest COVID-19 variant surging worldwide, predicting which cultural events in 2022 will actually take place as planned becomes more challenging by the week.
Will the Rolling Stones embark on a 60th anniversary tour that will also serve as the band’s farewell? Will twice-postponed festivals finally take place, be they Wonderfront and KAABOO in San Diego or Coachella and Stagecoach in Indio? Will we be able to experience anything approaching pre-pandemic normalcy in 2022 or 2023?
The answers are elusive, at least for now. But here are two music-related events I would welcome in any year.
Bob Dylan archives to open
Bob Dylan’s impact as the most innovative and influential singer-songwriter of the past century has been a matter of record since his musical ascent began in the early 1960s. That impact will be furthered by the May 10 opening of the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, the second largest city in Oklahoma.
The three-story museum is located near the city’s Woody Guthrie Center, which honors the singer-songwriter who most inspired Dylan as a young troubadour. More than 100,000 items will be housed in the 37,000 square-foot Bob Dylan Center, for which memberships are now available.
These items include previously released and unreleased studio and concert recordings; handwritten lyrics, manuscripts, notebooks and correspondence (including letters to Dylan from George Harrison, Tony Bennett and Jeff Buckley); films, videos, photographs, and art work; memorabilia; musical instruments; and more. For those seeking the deepest of dives into all things Dylan, it’s Tulsa time.
Three new Joshua White albums
Versatile pianist Joshua White’s star has been rising steadily with his fellow musicians over the past decade. Credit for this goes to his increasingly impressive collaborations with such esteemed artists as bassist Mark Dresser, flutists Nicole Mitchell and Holly Hofmann, trumpeters Steph Richards and Gilbert Castellanos, and saxophonists Rudresh Mahanthappa, Christopher Hollyday and Jason Robinson.
An El Cajon resident, White has also led a number of his own bands and has headlined at Dizzy’s in San Diego more than any other local or national performer. But because he has only recorded one solo album, 2017’s superb “13 Short Stories,” his impact as a solo artist has been limited.
Happily, White is poised to remedy that in 2022.
Thanks to a mid-five-figure grant from the Shifting Foundation, a nonprofit based in Salt Lake City, he is set to showcase his skills as a pianist, composer and band leader by recording three back-to-back albums featuring, respectively, a trio, a quartet and a quintet.
The music each band records, all written by White, will reflect his passion for literature while also underscoring how different modes of cultural expression can be indelibly connected. He cites authors Toni Morrison, bell hooks, Jamaica Kincaid, James Baldwin and Audre Lorde as authors who “have greatly influenced my music, thinking and creative process.”
The Shifting Foundation strives, according to its mission statement, to recognize emerging “artists who seek new ground, conceptually, thematically, stylistically, formally, or find new ways of surveying old ground, of reinventing traditions or synthesizing disparate elements.”
There may be no better description of what the consistently assured and daring White does with his music. Hearing his work documented on three new albums will be well worth celebrating.