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Ron Reis

Ron Reis

"I was so much younger then - I'm younger than that now."  This is from the chorus of the opening song, "My Back Pages" by Bob Dylan. Those words were pretty much the theme of the evening during the solo performance by Roger McGuinn, the founder of The Byrds, at the Elgin Community College Arts Center.

To begin, picture this - room is dark just before hearing McGuinn's classic twelve-string Rickenbacker begin to hum. The spotlight soon after hits a man stage left who looks much younger than most 72-year-olds, as youthfulness has graced the legendary performer over the years. McGuinn kicks into a jam and we are off. After the opening number, McGuinn relocates to center stage where he sits for story time. Each story was as fascinating as the last as he shares his life freely with the audience. McGuinn played and sang throughout the night, introducing each number with an associated memory.

And what a history this man has had! The music naturally helped move each story along in a way that led us to a whole new experience. Alternating between guitars, his arsenal included both seven and twelve-string accoustics. He also played his Rickenbacker and performed one song on the banjo. He played two sets with a brief intermission sandwiched in between, making fans eager to see how McGuinn would top the first act. He did. The second set opened the same as the first and we were off to more magic from a true contributor to our pop culture as we know it.

It was nice to see a musician who has held up so well over the decades, both physically and on an entertainment level. Seeing him perform live really gave me an aprreciation as to what an outstanding guitar player he truly is. The Byrds are often thought of as an electric folk band, but Roger is clearly a bit deeper than that. McGuinn also showed his sense of humor in between one song after another. One thing for sure, McGuinn is still a highly entertaining performer.

 

The story goes on for this man of many talents. McGuinn has accomplished a lot in his lifetime and from the looks of it, plans to keep going. And I think that his fans hope that will be the case.  

 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 05:00

The Weight Does The Band Right

Former members of The Band, Levon Helm Band and the Rick Danko Band were playing songs popularized by The Band last Friday night at the Elgin Community College Arts Center. It was very nice seeing such well-seasoned players serving up some fine music. This talented musical outfit is simply called The Weight.

Five piece band like the original, there were only a few differences. For one, there was no change in the drummer seat. In the original lineup Levon Helm would often jump on the mandolin and Richard Manuel would occasionally sit behind the kit. Friday night’s show had two keyboardists were playing the entire time, swapping places behind an electric piano and a Hammond B3. The guitar player was also covering the mandolin parts.

The musicianship was flawless. The vocals were very good, but naturally a slightly different blend than the Helm/Danko/Manuel harmonies of the past. Still, there were moments when you could close your eyes and take a trip back to yesteryear.

The Weight opened up with “Stage Fright”, a classic from the album of the same name. About half of the songs from the self-titled Brown album were covered. But they saved the big hits for the end, beautifully executing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, “The Weight” and “Up On Cripple Creek”. Ending on a high note, The Weight jumped into encores “Rag Mama Rag” and the Bob Dylan penned “I Shall Be Released”.

Everyone present in the crowd seemed to thoroughly enjoy the show. However, there were too many empty seats for the caliber of entertainment presented. You should have been there.

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