FEATURED SPOTLIGHT: The Wallflowers

The curly hair; the heavy-lidded eyes that scan everything they see with a writer’s scrutiny; the sneering frown that exudes “rock’n’roll” from one end to the other; most obvious of all, an absurdly innate talent for music.

Wallflowers vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist Jakob Dylan shares these and other similarities with his father Bob (yes, that Bob) - but he doesn’t rely on or even readily acknowledge them. The two certainly share a close relationship, but Jakob has made it a point to keep his personal connection to one of music’s seminal icons out of the media spotlight, and can never be accused of cashing in on his father’s reputation for a free ride to fame.

A central part of the mid-90’s revival of roots-rock, The Wallflowers instead punched that ticket all on their own merit. Lyrics-wise, listeners can easily detect the earlier Dylan’s influence, but sonically, the Wallflowers actually claim more kinship with acts like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers than original '60s folk-rock.

The Wallflowers’ hit single "One Headlight" was released in 1996, and by the spring of 1997, it had become a Top Ten hit, catapulting their album Bringing Down the Horse into the upper reaches of the charts. Bringing Down the Horse remained a big seller throughout 1997, thanks to "6th Avenue Heartache," "One Headlight," and "The Difference," the third single pulled from the record. Early in 1998, "One Headlight" won Grammys for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal. The Wallflowers continued a successful cycle of album releases and tours well into the 2000s, before lineup changes and creative differences led to a hiatus of several years. Now, after a 2011 reunion, the band continues to tour and bring the hits to their legions of diehard fans.

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In addition to touring, Dylan has garnered widespread attention and acclaim recently for his role as an interviewer/audience tour guide of sorts in the documentary Echo in the Canyon, profiling the late-’60s music scene outside Los Angeles that gave acts like The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Jackson Browne, Eric Clapton, David Crosby, & more a kind of creative paradise, and spawned the distinctive California pop style. Dylan’s interview with Tom Petty for the film unfortunately proved to be the last one ever given on-camera by the legendary Heartbreakers’ frontman before his untimely death in 2017; making lemonade of this sad turn of events, Dylan says he’s gladdened by the fact that, “for [Tom’s] last interview, he had a good time.”

Tickets to see The Wallflowers at Plymouth Memorial Hall on Thursday, July 18 at 7:30 pm are $39-$79, and are on sale now at www.memorialhall.com, or by calling 1 (800) 657- 8774.

Tickets to see The Wallflowers at Lowell’s Boarding House Park on Saturday, July 20 at 7:30 pm are $49 if purchased in advance or $55 on show day, and are on sale now at www.lowellsummermusic.org, or by calling (978) 970-5200

Andrew Cook