Marc Percansky and A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan (Part 2)
EN: What was your background before becoming a concert promoter?
MP: I was born and raised in Minnesota. My family owned a nightclub in town, a very famous one. I grew up there, the first 13 years of my life, from ’66 to ’79. It was there for forty years, the top night club in town. It was called the Flame Café. We had everybody there. We had Willie Nelson, he was young, and Fats Waller, Patsy Cline. We lost our liquor license and closed down, but the first 13 years of my life I watched that. It was one of those rare places that had a broadcasting station within it and a stage that rose out of the ground.
I had a relative on my mom’s side who was in vaudeville. I was performing magic from twelve years old on, so the concert promotion came as I got more associated with the musicians in town here I figured I might as well do my own concerts.
Before that I did a little stuff in real estate, I was licensed in New York. I did some stuff in Los Angeles with Sally Kirkland, the actress. I made some short films in los Angeles. I worked in what was at the time the largest record store in the country called HMV. I started that… but the concert promotion started actually in 2010. Rambling Jack Elliott was my first one. Many of the musicians that are involved I actually met there.
EN: What is the "Magic" of "Magic Marc" Percansky?
MP: I’ve been doing magic since I was seven, eight, nine years old. After my Bar Mitzvah, which is when you become a man, I said “Now I’m and man and now I’m going start doing professional magic shows.” I did it for 25 years. I performed everywhere. And I just thought it was a great thing because when you do magic they just come to see the tricks. They don’t care who you are.
I stopped doing magic for a while, but the name Magic Marc kinda stuck so I am using it still. Probably the rest of my life I’ll use Magic Marc. But there’s many different levels of magic. With Bob he’s a magician of words and music.
EN: I grew up doing magic, but was self-conscious when it came to performing.
MP: Bob once asked me to show him tricks. I never told anyone this… There’s a magic trick that involves a mental prediction board. It’s a little board with three slots. It’s a magic reading or reading the other person’s mind. I told him to write on this board whatever your thinking. The first is “Picture in your mind whatever color you like.” He wrote down “Royal Blue.” Next is to pick a card and he picked the seven of diamonds. The last thing was to name a favorite food. He thought about it and had to put something different than anyone would ever write. What do you think his favorite food was? Kasha.
I guessed it. It was a good trick, but I could never forget that he said, “Kasha.”
EN: How well did you know the guys from Blood On The Tracks?
MP: I was a little boy when it was recorded but I’d never met any of them until that night at the Pantages in ’04. And Kevin is the one I became closest with right off the bat. I hung around with him a lot after that show. I really miss him.
They’re gonna get their due. I believe they’re going to release a Bootleg Series with their stuff. It’s still one the greatest things ever. Kevin’s the one I’ve been the closest with. This wouldn’t have happened without him. It’s a lot of work.
EN: Tell us a little about the Duluth show coming up.
MP: We have over 25 names here. They’re all great people.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Duluth. I did do magic for Louis Kemp once. We’re not used to doing this inside. In fact, we’ve never done this inside. I like it to be fast paced. We have a great selection of music. Some of them know Bob. Scarlet [Rivera] is the one who I go back the furthest with.
EN: Why is the music of Bob Dylan important?
MP: This isn’t a tribute we’re doing. I don’t call this a tribute. It is a salute, because let’s face it, they have tributes all over the world, but this is a salute. We’re paying respect, we’re paying an homage. We’re all inspired by him. I don’t think there’s anybody else… He’s written the book. He’s still writing the book. Everybody can listen, watch and learn from him. I don’t see myself ever being in any other kind of salute or tribute. I’ve listened to him my whole life. My mom, when I was a little boy, had eight-tracks she listened to when I was growing up. I’ve never stopped listening. We’re lucky to have him around. Like George Harrison says, they’re going to be studying him 500 years from now. They’ll study his stuff. They’re studying it now.
The funny thing is, I never get tired of it. He’s so diverse. There’s nobody finer in music. That’s the reason I’m involved.
We’re coming to Duluth and want to make a good impression.
I’ve loved every stage. I’m Jewish and even love his Christian phase.
He’s been an artist. And like Scarlet they’ve sacrificed their lives to do their art and their music. I’ve learned a lot from him about life. He likes people to do their own thing.
* * * * *
EdNote: This blog entry and others like it have the aim of raising awareness for the upcoming Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan concert which will kick off the 2014 North Country Dylan Celebration in Duluth and Hibbing. Sacred Heart Music Center, May 17, 2014. For tickets to this event visit dulutharmory.org/events.