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Next Stage presents a tribute to an iconic folk artist

Fans of Bob Dylan will discover an up close and personal celebration of the iconic folksinger's work when Next Stage Repertory Company presents "Like a Rolling Stone: An Original Music Tribute to Bob Dylan."

Next Stage artistic director Doug Warner was looking for ways to expand the theater company's vision, while staying within its original mission of "good stories, well told."

"The works we've produced are written by great playwrights, great storytellers," Warner says. "So I came to the idea of Bob Dylan, also a great storyteller with a huge range of work. Then I started thinking about how to tell the story well and the amazing musicians living here in the Rogue Valley."

Warner contacted singer Inger Jorgensen (LOVEBITE, Bohemian Soul) to see if she wanted to be involved. She suggested that Warner hire her partner, Jeff Pevar, as bandleader for the project.

Pevar had worked with interpretive ensembles in the past.

"I toured with a band called Jazz is Dead that put a jazzy spin — or whatever the band felt would showcase the talents of its members — on Grateful Dead music, all while honoring the group's spirit. Similarly, certain songs in this repertoire will be played close to the original approach and others will be played differently, hopefully capturing the essence of the original composition while presenting new twists that audiences will find enjoyable and inspiring."

"Like a Rolling Stone" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Jan. 8-9, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10, in the Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford. Tickets cost $18 and can be purchased at the box office, 16 S. Bartlett St., online at craterian.org or by calling 541-779-3000.

"As artistic director for Next Stage, the thing for me is imagining the state of the art sound equipment on the Craterian stage," Warner says. "This show opens up endless possibilities for Next Stage. Its productions can be plays, music, books, poems or whatever. It's all about stories done well."

Pevar has worked as a professional recording artist, touring musician, producer and composer since he was in his teens. He's worked a number of heavy hitters, including Crosby, Stills and Nash, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, James Taylor, Rickie Lee Jones and Marc Cohn. He settled in the Rogue Valley in 2003 after meeting his partner, Jorgensen. 

He's no stranger to taking on a musical task such as honoring the music of Dylan. He actually enjoys such challenges.

"One of the things I love about Dylan's music is its earthy, natural qualities that are not overproduced," he says. "It sounds like some great musicians got together and played these beautiful songs — which is exactly what we're doing."

Pevar hand-picked an ensemble that includes drummer Matthew Kriemelman, bassist Jeff Addicott, guitarist Bret Levick, keyboard player Don Harriss, and Warner, who sings and plays guitar and harmonica. Vocalists Jorgenson, Levick, Warner, Pevar and Jade Watt will share vocal parts, so that each song can be told from a different, powerful perspective. Pevar will be playing lap-steel slide guitar, acoustic and electric guitars, and some fretless bass.

"I'm thrilled to be working with such a group of talented musicians for this project," Pevar says. "Doug and Bret are assets in regard to having voices that can interpret Dylan music with similar vehemence, and Doug's harmonica is essential. While Inger's and Jade's vocals provide a sentimental approach.

"We're experimenting with possibilities for interpretations of Dylan's songs, just as others like Jimi Hendrix and Steve Wonder did in the past," he says. "But we're also experimenting with fresh directions."

This show will satisfy Dylan fans who want to hear a collection of his most famous work, along with renditions of some lesser known songs, "Tombstone Blues," featuring Bret Levick, "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," featuring vocalist Jorgensen, "Leopard Skin Pill- Hat," featuring Doug Warner on guitar, vocals and harmonica.

doug and Bret are quite an asset in regards to having male voices that can interpret Dylan music with a similar vehemence, and of course, Doug's harmonica playing is essential, while Inger and Jade provide a sentimental approach.

iconic musician of the '60s that captured the political of the decade.

There will be no narrator for the show, but there will be unrehearsed banter betwee the musicans, the performance will focus on the music.

Clockwise from front: Rogue Valley musicians Don Harriss, Inger Jorgensen, Jeff Pevar, Jeff Addicott, Doug Warner, Matt Kriemelman, Jade Watt and Bret Levick make up the band for Next Stage Repertory's 'Blowin' in the Wind.' Photo courtesy of Tim Tidball