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Back at The Rave where romance began

Couple makes special trip to venue where sparks first flew

It’s true that Bob Dylan’s music brought Jennifer and Matt Steichen together, but it was more about the hours and hours the two new friends spent waiting in line on a curb outside The Rave in 2005.

Matt was still in college back then in Iowa where’s he’s from, and Jennifer was a paraprofessional at a school in the Twin Cities where she’s from.

They had met by chance at a rainy outdoor Dylan show in Rochester, Minnesota, the summer before and exchanged emails. Matt was attracted to Jennifer from the start; Jennifer wasn’t feeling it yet.

But when two Milwaukee shows were announced for April 8 and 9, 2005, at the Rave, she accepted his offer to pick her up at Mitchell International Airport and drive her to the concert. She had chosen to fly because she needed to be home Sunday for a niece’s baptism.

Their tickets were general admission. That means waiting in line all day if you want to run in when the doors open and stand spitting distance from the musical legend. They both wanted that bad.

So they joined other die-hard fans near the front of the queue all day Friday and again Saturday at 24th and Wisconsin.

“You get to know a person fast just sitting there for 10 hours at a stretch,” Matt said. “We understood each other right away. We didn’t have to talk about politics or religion or anything like that. It was like we were on the same wavelength right away. It was just easy. That’s what made it feel like it was something real.”

The weather was chilly, and Jennifer was touched that Matt retrieved a blanket for her from his parents’ car. And she was impressed that when someone in line played “Romance in Durango” on a guitar, Matt knew all the words, and that Dylan song has plenty.

It turned out that Jennifer, now 42, had seen Dylan in concert more times than Matt, 36, and in places like London and Paris. So on the day they first met in Rochester, Matt probably should not have asked if this was her first time. They’ve each seen 50 or more shows.

They both came to love Dylan’s music as teens, and I noticed they both refer to him as Bob. They continued to see each other after the two excellent shows in Milwaukee, traveling back and forth between Iowa and Minnesota and attending more Dylan concerts together.

They got engaged, you guessed it, at a Dylan show in 2006 and were married in 2007. They both worked as newspaper reporters for a time.

Today, Matt now does community relations for a school district, and Jennifer is home in the Minneapolis suburb of Lakeville with their four sons: Levi, 10; Calvin, 8; Ira, 5; and Desmond, 3.

The boys were exposed all their young lives to Bob Dylan’s music at a level of many, many parts per million. They all became fans. Levi is bewildered that the other kids at his school don’t seem to know who Dylan is.

On Saturday, Matt and Jennifer will return to The Rave for the first time since they began falling in love there. And their boys, at least the oldest three, will be with them. So far, Levi is the only one who has seen Dylan live.

“It brings us such joy to be able to connect with them through Bob’s music. Traveling around the Midwest to see Bob is what brought Matt and me together, and it’s fun to be able to share that with our kids. I love knowing they are making these amazing memories to share with their own children someday,” Jennifer said.

“One of the special things about Bob’s music is that it’s timeless and will be just as relevant for future generations,” Matt added.

Their seats for Saturday are reserved, so there’s no need to camp outside The Rave.

But the couple looks back fondly at those crazy days in Milwaukee and how they talked excitedly with other fans and shared quieter moments collaborating on a crossword puzzle, anything to make the hours pass by.

“I guess it turned out to be a great dating strategy,” Matt said, “to sit on the sidewalk with someone you barely know for two straight days.”

Contact Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or Follow him at Facebook or on Twitter @columnboy.

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