BOB DYLAN: NEVER ENDING TOUR DIARIES. Drummer Winston Watson’s Incredible Journey. Written and Directed by Joel Gilbert. Highway 61 Entertainment Productions. MVD Distribution.

By John Aiello

For a rock musician, there could be no greater offer than being invited to play in Bob Dylan’s touring band; quite simply, the job puts the proverbial ‘cherry on the cake’ while serving as the crowning achievement of any player’s career. And that fairy-tale scenario is just what happened to Winston Watson, a little known drummer who burst upon the national scene after being told to “show up” for a Dylan gig in Kansa City. Amid many a second thought, Watson showed up for that K.C. concert in September 1992 – a decision that resulted in a five-year job in which Watson would travel the world some ten times over, providing the backbeat for the mercurial poet for 400 shows.

In this documentary written and directed by Joel Gilbert, Watson narrates the story of just what it’s like to be a part of the Dylan machine, painting a picture of the daily life of a musician who’s working for the most influential performer of our generation. In Tour Diaries, Watson creates a captivating story-line that offers a real glimpse into Dylan’s human side (in addition to shedding more light on his blank business face). For example, one of the most engaging moments in the movie comes when Watson recounts Dylan’s soft words of encouragement – the old bard prodding the gun-shy Watson to just play what he feels. Additionally, the segment in the last chapter of the film wherein Watson tells us how he lost his magical job jabs with stark realism, as viewers experience just how cold and cruel big time stars with big-time egos can be.

Of all the music videos I’ve seen over the years, Watson’s story proves particularly riveting – full of energy and wit, drenched in dark harsh honesty. Ultimately, Tour Diaries sets out to teach us something about our heroes. And it does so sincerely and eloquently. Highly recommended to all Dylan fans for its honesty and for the wealth of new material it presents from the perspective of an ‘insider.’

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