Oran Mor Interview

008

Flicker Magazine was in attendance to review Bobby @ The Oran Mor gig. Read the review by Marc McAllister below

Bobby Does Dylan is a Bob Dylan tribute act created by actor Robert Harrison that some say is better than Dylan himself. Now I went into this totally unaware of exactly what the Bobby Does Dylan was and to be honest when I researched it, I was disappointed. I have never been a Bob Dylan fan, ever! So imagine my surprise when having taken in the show, I not only enjoyed it but I actually had an amazing time doing so.

I knew I recognised Bobby but I didn’t know where from until after the show and I checked IMdB. I’d seen him very briefly acting in the Ken Loach film ‘Sweet Sixteen’. Robert also had a part in the Flicker editor’s recent horror flick ‘The Bench’, he sure gets around. Turns out the guy can do way more than act, like reinvent Bob Dylan into someone I could listen to. Not an easy task.

Robert successfully was a better Bob Dylan than Bob Dylan for the first time at the Tall Ships gig in Greenock. It was at Tall Ships were he played alongside famous musicians such as Deacon Blue and Lulu. The whole Tall Ships event was filmed by a crew at the gig, who edited the footage into a documentary which can be found online, very interesting stuff.

Robert, in hat and shades looked enough like Bob Dylan without trying to overdo it. The Oran Mor was a perfect setting for the packed audience most of whom turned up to see Bobby Does Dylan, the others got a real treat. Harrison strummed his guitar and whaled his harmonica to all the classics like ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, ‘Maggie’s Farm’, ‘Blowin In The Wind’, ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, ‘Everybody Must Get Stoned’, ‘Knockin on Heavens Door’ and my personal favourite of the night ‘All Along the Watchtower’ which simply sounded amazing.

005 When the night ended Bobby got a standing ovation and screams for more from the fans, myself included. After the show Robert had changed back to his regular attire, back to being Robert instead of Bobby. He was surrounded by audience members wanting to tell him how much they loved the show. Harrison graciously made the time to speak to all of them and after he was finished we found a quiet place to sit hand have a chat:

Marc McAllister: So first of all that was great show, you were better at being Dylan than Bob Dylan, is this a usual thing for you?

Robert Harrison: Well this is the first time at Oran Mor, I’m really honored to play here. I really wanted to do one in Glasgow because I love the Glasgow people, I love doing this in Scotland and I think Bob Dylan would appreciate that because he loves the Scottish people as well. But before this I first played at the Tall Ships in Greenock which got a great response, after that I did a few other concerts, I did the Bute Rainbow Festival, a lot of English people came up for that, got a great response for that as well, but this is the first in Glasgow

MM: Where are you originally from?

RH: Im actually from a small town in Greenock. I did a few concerts there which went down really well. Some people were saying ‘Oh wear a wig.’ I’m not here for to be Bob Dylan, Im here to represent Bob Dylan, to sing like Dylan. Sure, I wear the hat and the glasses to represent him but it’s all about the voice, if you don’t have the voice then what is the point. Some people try it and can’t pull it off

MM: Absolutely agree with you there

RH: To tell you the truth Bob Dylan’s voice came to me, I never went to him

MM: Have you always been a Bob Dylan fan?

RH: Well in a way yes but when I started working on doing the Bob Dylan voice, I started off with an old song called ‘House of the Rising Sun’

MM: Was that a Bob Dylan song? I though that was the animals who covered that from Ledbelly?

RH: Yeah it was originally but Dylan covered it way back in the 60′s

MM: OK

RH: Well anyway I did the song for a few people and they instantly said ‘You have got Bob Dylan’s voice’ so I took it from there, took up the guitar, I used to be in a band that did stuff like Pink Floyd, which meant I switched from electric to acoustic but Dylan came from acoustic to electric.

MM: It’s a great sound man.

RH: Thank you. Yeah, so then what I did was I watched an old black & white movie called ‘Dont Look Back’ terrific movie, I love it. In the film he’s sitting in London at one point typing his songs on a typewriter, then about 5 months later after watching it I go into shop in my home town and see this same typewriter, identical. I got and it was about £4 or something. I took it home and double checked ‘Don’t Look Back’ again, identical but what was really shocking was when I looked in the rubber it said repeatedly ‘Robert, Robert, Robert’ all over it, all over the typewriter which was a bit weird you know.

MM: Definitely very weird.

RH: Yeah so looking over the movie again and again, I dreamed about doing what Bob did on a stage back in ’65 and after working at it the dream came true for me when I got to play the Tall Ships in Greenock

MM: Excellent

RH: So now from here I want to keep getting the same response that I got from the crowd tonight. So I’ll continue to work harder to achieve that, I believe that I live for Bob now. I mean I’ve been in and out of bands that haven’t worked out and been a bit of a let down but now Bob Dylan’s voice has given me the chance to go out and do it, to represent him.

MM: I love the sound you get from your harmonica as well.

RH: You know it’s funny cause I was never a harmonica player. (The) first time I played one was when I tried to play ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ it was about 3 months before the Tall Ships gig. I picked up a mouth organ and it just came to me.

MM: Really amazing that you picked everything up so quickly.

RH: It was everything, the rhythm, the fingerpicking, the voice, the mouth organ and now I just wanna focus on Bob Dylan until the day die and thats it. (I) just wanna be representing him.

MM: Does it hurt your throat, putting on the Bob Dylan voice?

RH: I don’t really have to put it on, ‘you can put it on’ (In a Dylan voice) but I use my own voice and I use Bob, so I combine the two and use my acting skill. That’s what I do I’m an actor. So, I use my entertainment and acting abilities to create Bob Dylan the best I can.

MM: Do you have plans to tour with Bobby does Dylan?

RH: I’ve got plans to go to Edinburgh and Manchester. I just wanna make sure I know more of the songs first. I was over at the Bute Rainbow festival in Rothesay and somebody in the crowd was shouting ‘Hurricane, Hurricane’, I’m thinking god I would need to be in jail to learn that one you know, it’s that long.

MM: (laughs) When I came in I didn’t hear you talk at first but then when you talked I was surprised you had a Scottish accent. Do you often find people say that?

RH: I am hoping that some day I can go to America to represent Bob and if that happens I’d like to wear a kilt and a crail to represent Scotland when I’m out there. I’ve got big plans in the future for that.

MM: Sounds great are you signed to a label or management yet?

RH: No not yet but a few people are showing interest, I think they like the fact I do Bob but with my own twist you know, I put my own wee spin on it. I always thought some of Bob’s verses were a bit too long, so I cut down some of the songs so I could fit more into the set.

MM: Well I actually prefer your version of All Along The Watchtower. I was never personally a fan of Bob Dylan but I think you may have changed my mind tonight.

RH: Well that really means a lot, thank you. I hope that people reading this will want to come along to the show and that I can give them a great night of entertainment. That’s really all you can do.
Robert then went on and spoke to almost everyone in the bar who surrounded him and praised him for his performance again. He seemed like a very genuine and passionate guy. He seems like he has set his mind on this project and I firmly believe he can achieve something with it. I would recommend this show for all Bob Dylan fans and even some who aren’t because I was shocked that I enjoyed it as much as I did. The most pleasant surprise I’ve had in a long time.