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May 4, 2009 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Don’t Call Him Bob

So it’s two in the morning, you’ve just finished off your tasty falafel from Cuba Kebab (hopefully you remembered the student discount) and now you are struggling to reach the taxis on Dixon after chasing NeonSleep around at some delicious KFC-referenced gig up at San Fran. We’ve all been there. A regular Saturday and Sunday morning ritual for some, one which would not be complete without taunting that Bob Dylan guy for a few minutes, offering him a bite of your kebab and 30 cents if he plays ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ one more time. That Bob Dylan guy is most definitely an iconic part of Cuba Street’s night life, but who actually knows his real name? Is he really American or just putting it on? It was about time someone found out, and I took the liberty of asking the questions.

A shocking revelation to some, he does have a name, and it’s not Bob. Dylan Branham has been musically talented for many years now, 15, to be exact. The list of instruments he plays is exhaustive and impressive, and it’s not just what he plays, but how. I was rather bewildered to witness a Led Zeppelin tribute, played in full, alternating behind Dylan’s head and with his teeth. When I asked him who his favourite musicians and influences were he replied: “That’s like asking a mother who their favourite child is.” Not surprisingly, his favourites included Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and yes of course, Bob Dylan. Born and bred in the US of A, Dylan had no option but move to New Zealand when his mother remarried. Dylan up and left for the states for 2 years and then after a filly broke his heart, it was off to Thailand where his current Latin lover is working.

Throughout his travels Branham has managed to play to a few large crowds—when he was 17 Branham played to a crowd of 1500 in the States and a crowd of 4000 in Thailand. He retold the story of how he was quietly playing to himself in a bar when the manager and member of ‘Chai The Islander’ asked him to play alongside them at an upcoming festival.

Although Branham was at times a little incoherent due to intoxication, it seems he has been writing original songs for quite some time, and yes they are actually pretty good. If you ever see him out, perhaps for a dollar or two you could request ‘Don’t Call Me Bob’ or one of the many heart wrenching love songs he has written for the girl in Thailand. On a good night, say like St Patricks Day, Branham can earn a sweet $160, and with a good audience $50 per song: “Once this lady wanted to hear Mr. Tambourine man so badly she lay down a fifty dollar bill.”

It’s obvious music is his main passion, and with busking his main source of income at current, Branham is in no way ready to put away the guitar and harmonica and leave Cuba Street. Branham busks most weekends, and the occasional Wednesday and Thursday night, sometimes until 6 in the morning where he then meets his mother for an early morning church service. It’s all good and well to request ‘Lay Lady Lay’ every time you walk past him, but I would strongly recommend requesting an original if Branham’s up to it. Go on mix it up a bit. I dare you.


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