SAN JOSE, Calif. -- As corporate get-togethers go, this was not your average Silicon Valley schmooze-fest.
Then again, it's not every day Bob Dylan and his son perform on the same bill. Even more unusual, is the politically
motivated '60s-era spokesman and his kid did it for a group of CEOs, white-collar workers and their staff.
Still, Nathan Wolfson, 29, a systems analyst for Applied Materials, which threw the party, said that Friday's special
engagement at the San Jose Arena featuring Dylan and the Wallflowers, who are led by frontman and Dylan offspring, Jakob, " ... was the only such gathering that my wife agreed to attend with me."
Sure, there was free food and an open bar. As one would expect, high office holders stood up and made motivational speeches
to their gathered minions. A video lauding the corporation's achievements was even screened so that everyone could see how
their hard work was paying off.
But where most corporate gatherings were already peetering out, Applied Materials' 30th anniversary party was just getting
hot with the Wallflowers, who took a break from their tour in support of Bringing Down the Horse to play
such hits as "One Headlight" and "Three Marlenas" for the gathered stuffed shirts.
Celebrating 30 years in the superconductor business, the corporation rewarded its employees' hard work by staging the
private concert, the first ever featuring the father and son on the same stage. While their co-workers in Austin, Texas were
celebrating with funky keyboardist Stevie Wonder, the Silicon Valley crew were noshing on celery sticks and dip while
wondering if the fabled folk legend would join his up-and-coming son for a song or two.
"It was definitely the big question of the evening," Wolfson said. "It wasn't really clear before the show if they were playing
separate sets or not, so there was quite a buzz." When the Wallflowers played their hour-long set and papa Dylan didn't
appear, the crowd just resigned itself to the fact that they would be witnessing two different Dylans and not rock 'n' roll
history. "Everyone was like 'That would have been cool,' " Wolfson said. "But, hey, Dylan has his own scene and nobody
seemed to be disappointed."
While Applied Materials employees chosen in the company's lottery and a few fans lucky enough to scalp a ticket or two
outside the arena that night were no doubt thrilled to be a part of the exclusive engagement, tickets were not available to the public.
The elder Dylan started off his set with the driving folk-rock number, "Maggie's Farm" (off 1965's Bringing It All Back Home), a move which some might consider the equivalent of
inviting Johnny Paycheck to your workplace and having him lead your employees in a rousing rendition of "Take This Job
And Shove It!"
"Maggie's Farm" ends with the verse: "Well I try my best to be just like I am/ But everybody wants you to be just like them/ They say sing while you slave and I just get bored/ I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more." Wolfson, a big Dylan fan, noted that "[While it] is a common opener at present, it felt nicely ironic in that
While Dylan and his band ran through such classics as "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You," "Highway 61 Revisited,"
"Like A Rolling Stone" and "Forever Young," many Applied Materials employees drifted off into the night, happy to have
seen the living legend on stage again.
"I would say that when it started, the arena was about three-quarters full," Wolfson recalled, "but by the end of Dylan's set,
they were at about 60 percent of capacity." [Tues., Nov. 18, 1997, 9 a.m. PDT]