NZ's biggest Bob Dylan fan throws down a challenge
New Zealand's biggest Bob Dylan fan throws down a challenge
“I’ve eaten, breathed, melted, swallowed, washed and sucked in Dylan’s records”, says Chris Baigent (Rivers) who claims to be New Zealand’s biggest Bob Dylan fan. The lead singer and songwriter for the band River's Edge says he rightly earned this title after living in poverty for six months, in Cambridge UK, in order to dedicate himself entirely to studying Dylan’s discography - and he now offers a challenge to other Dylan fans.
During this pilgrimage, he wrote all the songs for his second album, aptly named ‘Cambridge Town’, which has recently been released by Powertool Records. “I guess you could call this album my thesis on early Dylan".
“I’d just stepped in from Cuba and had to endure a long and bitter British winter”. But Rivers was kept inspired by Dylan’s humour during his own hard times. In ‘Talkin’ New York’, on his first self-titled album Dylan wrote:
A lot of people
don’t have much food on their table
But they got a lot of forks ’n’ knives
And they gotta cut somethin’
“I had a spoon. I just lived on soup and humour”, says Rivers. “I didn’t take the easy route and go through Dylan’s garbage for inspiration like others have; calling themselves ‘Dylanologists’. I’ve got no business with his rubbish. I did it hard".
"One day, I turned up to the Cambridge folk festival. Some guy was upside down, swinging from a tree, playing ‘Blowing in the Wind’, and I thought, I’m gonna start writing what I see. I rambled around old Cambridge town; and it blew the poetry and songs wide open." It was writing about New Zealand while in England that was the most liberating for Rivers. “It freed me up.”
Back in New Zealand, Rivers had put on several shows with Chris Knox in the past, and cites him as one of his biggest New Zealand influences, along with David Kilgour, The Clean and Voom.
Rivers believes that all his work channelling Dylan led him to write an eclectic mix of songs. The album ‘Cambridge Town’ includes an obligatory protest song, ballads, and even a lament to his step father - 'Maraca Man’ was written as a farewell to the ‘Keith Richards’ of Maraca players. Rivers says he loved putting his heart and soul into this album, particularly the ballad ‘Love Speak’, which was inspired by the truthfulness of Dylan’s ballads. ‘Alt, pop, folk, rock’ is how Rivers describes his sound and ‘Cambridge Town’, written while “fired up on folk”, is a concept album penned about the modern world, in the style of a past generation.
While others have never resurfaced after giving themselves over to Dylan, Rivers came back up when his UK visa ran out. “Dylan can really suck you in and if you’re not strong enough, he won’t let you go. I’m a fan and a critic of Dylan’s but I’m a musician in my own right, and I’ve got my own journey to explore.”
The hardship Rivers endured in Cambridge (UK) has paid off and River's Edge is about to start their ‘Always Beginning’ Tour in August, just as Dylan arrives here on his ‘Never Ending' Tour. Rivers, who is a Hamiltonian, but ironically now living in Cambridge (NZ), says, “It’s been ten years since I was holed up writing this album. I don’t know why I didn’t release it sooner. I was waiting for the right time, and there’ll never be a better time than Dylan coming to my home town.”
Rivers wants other Dylanologists to "challenge" him on his claim to be New Zealand's biggest Bob Dylan fan. They can do so on his Facebook page: Number One Dylan Fan Facebook page, and on Twitter: Chris Rivers Baigent@No1DylanFanNZ1 Rivers wants to know about other fans' Dylan journey - why are they Dylanologists?; and what sort of Dylanesquing do they do?
They are also encouraged to check out his shows, to see if the lessons he learned from his hard-won "thesis" on Dylan really do qualify him as "Bob Dylan's biggest fan".
Cambridge Town here:
Dates for Shows (all shows at 830pm unless stated)
29 July The “Good Morning Show” 730 AM
Television One live performance “love Speak” River's Edge Band - Followed by band busking at the bottom of Queen St 930 AM.
2 August - The Dogs Bollix Bar – Newton Auckland. Mimi and Rivers – Superturtle - River's Edge Band.
8 August – The Wonderhorse Bar – Victoria st Hamilton. Rivers playing Early Dylan folk tribute followed by Mimi and Rivers.
16 August – The Gaslight Theatre Cambridge – early Rivers & Dylan folk, Mimi and Rivers, River's Edge Band.
20 September – The Thirsty Dog –
River's Edge Band – others to be announced!