This concert performance of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue was considered lost until a recording engineer dug it up from his private collection.
On May 12, 1976, Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue performed a concert at the Municipal Auditorium in Austin, Texas, which left little historical record. Press reports at the time revealed that furious fans protested with signs outside the venue when they learned that plans for separate early and late evening concerts had been scuttled at the last minute, creating a free-for-all where seat assignments suddenly no longer made sense. But this is one of the few shows from the 57 dates of the Rolling Thunder Revue that has never surfaced in the collecting community, either as an audience recording or a recording of the mix table.
That changed a few weeks ago when Ray Padgett, author of the book Pledging My Time: Conversations with Bob Dylan Band Members (2023) and operator of the indispensable Dylan fan site Flagging Down the Double E’s, has posted online a soundtrack of the concert as well as a recording of the Rolling Thunder Revue from April 29, 1976 at Expo Hall in Mobile , Alabama, which is a huge sonic improvement over the mono recording that already exists. You can listen to both concerts here.
The recordings come from the collection of David Hendel, who was the mixer for the second part of the Rolling Thunder Revue. Padgett first heard of Hendel when he came across an anonymous comment on the site setlist.fm for the Austin concert. “ I was the sound engineer for this part of the Rolling Thunder Revue tourwe could read there. Although I do not have a complete setlist for the Mobile, AL and Austin, TX concerts, I do have recordings of both concerts. However, the songs were combined into one tape, and so I don’t know which song was played where. »
Padgett tracked down the commentator, learned it was Hendel, and interviewed him on his website. “ I didn’t have many tapesexplains Hendel. I only recorded certain concerts. Often I would be mixing the sound and not really paying attention to the tape, so sometimes the tape would run out in the middle of the song, and I wouldn’t realize it until the song was over . Most of the time it was for my pleasure. Very few bands I worked with wanted to listen to tapes of their concerts. »
Along with Dylan experts Les Kokay, Ian Woodward and Mitch Blank, Padgett was able to determine which tracks on Hendel’s tape came from Mobile and which tracks came from Austin. As Hendel explained, he did not record the entire concerts. But there is well over an hour for each of the two concerts.
Highlights of the Austin concert included a “ I Want You » tinged with country, a « You’re a Big Girl Now » moving, a « Idiot Wind » furious and a grand finale of « Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door “, where he is joined on vocals by Rogan McGuinn of the Byrds. Joan Baez accompanies Dylan on “ Blown’ In The Wind “, ” Railroad Boy “, ” Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos) ” And ” I Pity The Poor Immigrant “.
The special show Hard Rain was filmed 11 days after Austin’s concert in Fort Collins, Colorado. The live album Hard Rain mixes Fort Collins songs with tracks from a concert given on May 16, 1976 in Fort Worth, Texas. But Dylan’s team has yet to release any other songs from the 1976 tour. That will likely change in 2026, when a provision in European copyright law will force them to release what they have or cause the recordings to fall into the public domain.
Unfortunately, this is unlikely to concern the legendary finale of the Rolling Thunder Revue in Salt Lake City. For years, fans have been frantically trying to find a recording of this concert, which included the only known live versions of “ Black Diamond Bay ” And ” Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts “, but it has never been found anywhere, and is not in Dylan’s safe. The discovery of Hendel’s Austin tape should give fans hope that it exists somewhere in the world.