Aspen Poets’ Society hosts tribute to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell with Bobby Mason |

Aspen Poets’ Society hosts tribute to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell with Bobby Mason

The Aspen Poets' Society is hosting a tribute to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell on Sunday at Victoria's Espresso.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: Live Poetry Night, presented by the Aspen Poets’ Society

Where: Victoria’s Espresso

When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 6:30 p.m.

How much: Free

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American folk and rock music was officially enshrined in the literary canon last year when Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The music world also lost some of its greatest writers in 2016 — Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell among them.

The Aspen Poets’ Society is responding with a tribute to the trio at its monthly Live Poetry Night at Victoria’s Espresso on Sunday night, celebrating Dylan, Cohen and Russell with readings of their work (all are welcome to bring their favorites for the open mic portion of the night). The literary nonprofit also is celebrating Aspen’s own “mayor of music,” Bobby Mason, whose been the mountain town’s de facto poet laureate for the past 48 years.

After being sidelined for most of 2016, the local music icon, now 72, is steadily making his way back to the stage. A knee infection last summer led to the removal of a prosthetic knee, three major surgeries, and curtailed his ability to perform. An ongoing GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign, dubbed “Help Get Bobby Back On Stage,” has helped cover Mason’s medical expenses while he’s been unable to perform.

This winter, he picked up a regular low-key apres-ski gig at Shlomo’s and, last week, in his biggest show since last summer, he opened for John McEuen at the Wheeler Opera House and played with members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

“I’m walking and I’m breathing, with the new knee and everything,” Mason said on Wednesday. “But I still don’t have a lot of stamina.”

Mason will perform as a special guest at Sunday’s event. Along with local poets reading lyrics by the trio of singer-songwriters, Mason will play his original songs and some by Dylan and Cohen.

“It’s a great opportunity for poets and songwriters to come down and speak their lyrics,” Mason said. “Or just to sit down and realize how close poetry is to music. It’s going to be a really nice get-together.”

Mason is no stranger to spoken word performance. He provided the musical accompaniment for local poet Kim Nuzzo’s spoken word album “Buddhas on the Backroad” and another unreleased Nuzzo project.

As his health improves, Mason is looking for more gigs around the valley. The McEuen concert offered a jolt of inspiration, he said.

While he’s been laid up since June, Mason has been working on a new album — a project he says has “more of a funky feeling to it.”

“It’s been a long time sine I’ve felt this moved in my heart about creating music,” he said.

With the help of his wife, the Aspen icon — who was a notorious partier until he sobered up in 1990 — has also been writing a memoir “about the wonderful world of sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll and recovery.”