Thursday, April 28, 2011

This Byrd’s Wild About Folks Songs


McGuinn, Sebastian Perform At Oneonta

Roger McGuinn, right, will perform in the county Sunday, May 1.


It’s been almost 50 years since Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Gene Clark and Michael Clark formed the influential rock group, The Byrds.  Now a solo act, McGuinn brings his trademark folk-rock sound Sunday, May 1, to the Oneonta Theatre in a double-headline show with The Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ John Sebastian on Sunday, May 1.
Fans can expect a full-fledged show from McGuinn, complete with Byrds classics, traditional folk songs and even a little storytelling in between songs.  “I just love performing,” McGuinn said in a telephone interview Monday, April 25.  “And I just chain it all into one big story.”
Folk music is a passion for McGuinn. Back in 1995, he noticed an absence of traditional folk singers performing the old English ballads, as many of them were turning into singer-songwriters. 
In conjunction with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, McGuinn started the Folk Den, an online collection of over 190 songs, complete with chords, lyrics and pictures, for musicians and listeners to download free of charge.
“I saw a possibility of old songs getting lost in the shuffle,” he said.  “I wanted to keep the old songs alive.”  He also found himself returning to his own folk music roots, playing solo shows with just his own four instruments on stage.
But it isn’t just touring and archiving folk music that keeps McGuinn busy.  He is also currently shooting a documentary about his life as a musician.
Tentatively titled “River Flows,” the film will trace his time both with The Byrds and as a solo act, featuring concert footage and interviews with fellow musicians such as Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Judy Collins, for whom McGuinn had been a musical director on her third album.
He compares the film to the out-of-print Hollywood Records collection “Live from Mars,” which featured acoustic versions of Byrds classics such as “Mr. Tamborine Man” and “Turn Turn Turn,” as well as some of his stories from the road.
McGuinn also designed a limited-addition guitar for Martin Guitars, the seven-string acoustic Roger McGuinn HD7.  This guitar captures McGuinn’s signature “jingle-jangle” sound with a doubled g-string--the second string tuned an octave higher,  it allowed McGuinn to play melody and lead lines on the g-string, a trick taught to him by George Harrison.

IF YOU GO:  Roger McGuinn, John Sebastian at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at the Oneonta Theater.  Tickets $50 at door, or $45 in advance at Music Square, Eighth Note, Green Toad and Maxwell’s in Oneonta, Stagecoach Coffee in Cooperstown.

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