Menlo guitar enthusiasts celebrate Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday by playing his music

by Alycia Moulton on March 26, 2011

Menlo Park guitar enthusiasts sat down recently with Carol McComb to discuss their upcoming guitar class celebrating Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday.  (Don’t think twice! Can it really be? Yes, on May 24.) The class, which kicks off March 29, is dedicated to Bob Dylan songs and will include lively conversation about his contribution to the folk music world and transformation from acoustic musician to electric rocker.

Carol has been teaching guitar classes at Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto for over 36 years.  Her wealth of experience and performance background is what allows her to teach classes this specialized. I enrolled in Carol’s “Starting to Play” class a year ago and  have progressed enough to be able to play some of Dylan’s music.

Many other more advanced students are also looking forward to the class. Jonathan Segal has always loved Bob Dylan: “I’ve been a fanatic since I was a child. My first record was Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.”

“He’s completely unique.” Mahra Teikmanis adds, “I’m excited about taking a class committed to one songwriter. I want to learn about the background Bob draws from – and Carol knows all of the history.”

Dave Matzinger, a long-time student, says he is taking the Dylan class because “Carol’s classes are much more than instruction in guitar technique; there is probably nowhere else in the world where you can get full arrangements of so many songs translated into guitar tabs and vocal arrangements.  Carol’s broad scope of musical knowledge in the areas of folk, bluegrass, Celtic and other genres make the experience of taking her classes a musical education in itself.”

Carol was at the Newport Folk Festival when Dylan made the decision to leave his folk roots for the rock world. “I remember it vividly” she says. “I was standing on the side of the stage next to Pete Seeger, who asked if I liked what I was hearing (Dylan with Paul Butterfield’s blues band). I nodded a vehement ‘yes’.”

“Dylan was never a slave to convention,” Marc Saunders points out. “He was one of the biggest influences of our generation.”

While Carol still performs with friend and fellow recording artist, Kathy Larisch, she gets great pleasure seeing others put together the right bass runs, strums and picking patterns to achieve melodies that are recognizable favorites and original works. Students enjoy the group camaraderie and campfire setting that eliminates much of the anxiety that can be present when learning.

Come join in the fun.  The Bob Dylan class is currently being offered at 7:00 pm on Tuesday evenings, but due to it’s popularity additional classes will be scheduled. For more information contact Carol McComb at

Pictured L to R: Carol McComb, Jonathan Segal, Dave Matzinger, Mahra Teikmanis, Marc Saunders, Alycia Moulton


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