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Ticket Line : For Dylan Fans, Wait Is Worth It

Times Staff Writer

It’s been seven years since Bob Dylan last headlined a concert in Southern California. The singer will be back in June, on tour with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but will make just two Southland stops--one at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa.

On Monday morning, more than 800 fans gathered at the amphitheater box office, braving random line assignments and hours of waiting on the sunbaked asphalt of a corral-like holding area to make sure they get to see Dylan, one of pop music’s major folk-rock figures.

The fans, most in their late 20s, were well behaved, with many striking up friendships. Most arrived before 8 a.m., when they drew numbers to determine the order in which they would be allowed to buy tickets.

Few seemed to mind the white-shirted crowd managers who barked ticket-buying instructions like drill sergeants lecturing a crop of recruits. They preferred conversation to consternation, and their favorite topic was the man whose songs about the Vietnam War and civil disobedience captured the mood of a generation--though not necessarily their generation.

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“He’s one of the legends of rock and roll and just to see him is bitchin’,” said Jim Thompson, 20, a student at Orange Coast College. Thompson, like many too young to remember Dylan in his heyday, was introduced to his music by older siblings.

Oran Marksbury, 51, said he became a fan 18 years ago, drawn by the singer’s lyrics and rebellious image.

“He was saying a lot of things that people can’t articulate very well,” he said. “He sings terrible, but he writes good lyrics.”

Next to Marksbury in line was Rita Cessna, 37, a 16-year fan who said she liked Dylan even when he went through a Christian music phase in the late ‘70s. Cessna, bubbling with admiration for the singer, said she wants to marry Dylan, “especially now that he’s single.”

“Not because he’s a big star--because he feels for people,” she said. “He’s always trying to get men to treat each other so that we can live in peace more.”

“He just seems like a very sensitive, very caring, very romantic type of person. Very rich, too,” she said, dissolving into a fit of laughter.

Cliff Vest, 63, a Christian minister, was waiting to buy tickets for his son. He said he was not familiar with either Dylan or Petty. “I’m kind of out of place, I believe,” he said, adding that he wished he had brought some Christian literature to pass out.

Then there were the hard-core fans. Tim Hume, 31, had been waiting in the holding area for three hours. Asked if he was here to see Dylan or Petty, Hume looked confused for a moment, then said: “Yeah. Why? Are there people here to see Petty?”

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Hume, a painter and part-time musician, said he has been a Dylan fan since 1961. Dylan’s music, he said, was the only thing he could identify with. “If I ever had a problem, that’s the record I would put on. He got me through a lot.”

He has vivid memories of the last Dylan concert he attended. “You wouldn’t believe the attraction,” he said of the singer’s stage presence. “It’s like a magnet. It’s like God standing up there.

“It’s been a long time (since the last concert). That’s why I’m here. That’s why everyone’s here. I wish I would’ve gotten here earlier.”

At 1:15 p.m., it was announced that reserved seats for the second show had sold out. Hume and about 100 others in the holding area ended up having to buy general admission seats on the lawn.

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Steve Redfearn, general manager of the Pacific Amphitheatre, confirmed that the 17,000 reserved seats were sold out for both concerts--June 16 and 17--and said the 10,000 lawn seats for the first concert would probably sell out by the end of the day. Lawn seats for the second concert are still available. (Dylan’s first Southland concert will be at the San Diego Sports Arena on June 9.)

Redfearn said the fans Monday were extraordinarily patient and no incidents were reported. “They were probably the most well-behaved crowd we’ve ever had for a ticket sale,” he said.


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