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Roger Mcguinn

      . . . musician, Rock & Roll Music Hall of Fame member. A staple of the NYC and LA music scene even before founding the influential ő60s band, The Byrds, with Gene Clark and David Crosby, Mr. McGuinn continues touring the world as a solo artist. His distinctive style, impressive musicianship, familiarity with the entire musical spectrum and eagerness to share his gifts have earned him legions of faithful fans around the world, across four generations. The „Roger McGuinn, Treasures from the Folk Denš CD celebrates Mr. McGuinn‚s roots in folk music, with legendary guests including Pete Seeger.

Excerpts3:30 secs
[This Program was recorded August 1, 2001 in Atlanta, Georgia, US.]

      Music feeds our souls, says Roger McGuinn, a founder and lead guitarist of the legendary ő60s Rock & Roll band, The Byrds. It‚s one of the staples of the soul‚s diet, he‚s convinced after a lifetime in the music business. Roger‚s in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for his genius at incorporating blues and jazz and classical genres, and now, after a lifetime touring the world and collecting fans across four generations, Roger‚s returned to his roots in folk music. Why? Because he worries about it, he says, fears it will get lost.

      Folk songs‚ wonderful stories still give Roger goose bumps, he says, and so do their wonderful melodies. They are history, he‚s convinced and we learn from history. Folk songs tell about whole segments of life that are now gone. Cowboys‚ songs. Slaves‚ songs. The songs of sailers going around the world in square-riggers, singing to synchronize the work of pulling up the anchor, singing to fill spare time. These are experiences worth saving, he days, and tunes to steal the heart.

      His advise to aspiring performers? Be there. And be prepared. His own story looks like a fabulous game of dominoes. Elvis Presley inspired the young „Jimmyš to start making music in high school. Lots of practice and good timing conspired to catapult him overnight from $10/night gigs in Chicago coffee houses to a job with The Limelights at a time when the music scene was headed for dramatic changes. Miles Davis (whom Roger never met) put in a good word with Columbia Records which got Roger and the newly formed Byrds their first big recording contract. And striking innovations on the powerful Bob Dylan song, „Mr. Tambourine Man,š thrust The Byrds into the forefront of Rock & Roll. In fact, the Beatles called The Byrds their favorite American band.

      But great performances, Roger has found, require great audiences. They are part of the show, feeding back to the performer who does even better when each feeds the other. Roger laughingly wishes there was something like an audience school, to teach people not to sit there with their arms folded, looking grumpy. Four generations of his fans must have gone to that school, for they stand up and cheer the music he loves wherever he plays, all over the world. Now, a whole new generation has come to appreciate the folk music he‚s rescued at his website.

      What‚s the source of Rock & Roll‚s magic? Its synthesis of dramatically different elements, he believes, having himself played a pivotal role in that revolution -- folk and rock, reggae and rock, jazz and rock, blues and rock, the way the Beatles took a Phil Spector beat and mixed it with bossa nova and blues and jazz and classical and whatever else they could find. Roger still listens to everything, he says: classical, jazz, opera, country, reggae, hip-hop, girl bands and girl singers, boy bands and guy singers like Ricky Martin. Yes, Rock & Roll is a hodgepodge, he says.  And almost 40 years later, Roger McGuinn still thinks Rock & Roll is ... wonderful.

Conversation 1

Roger McGuinn recalls his pre-Rock&Roll musical days for Paula Gordon and Bill Russell, with stories and songs, and tells stories about awakening to the Blues and folk music.

Conversation 2

Augmenting his stories on his guitar, Roger traces his musical lineage from the Limelighters, the Chad Mitchell Trio and Judy Collins to Bobby Darren and Phil Spector, to becoming a Rock& Roll legend himself. He describes how he and The Byrds created an amalgam from a variety of musical elements along with the liberation of the music of people including Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino into the mainstream. Paying tribute to Elvis Presley, Roger remembers the impact that Elvis and The Beatles had on him. Roger compares people‚s need for music to our need for food. He listens to everything, he says, and elaborates. Concerned that today‚s music business might bury folk music, Roger discusses both and talks about the origins of his Folk Den and the resulting CDs. He talks about Pete Seeger.

Conversation 3

Folk music‚s powerful stories still excite him, Roger says, as he sings several to make his points. He talks about how happy folk songs make him and why. He describes how he and his wife have left the jet set behind and now really see America as they make their tours into road-trips, then describes bus tours.  He talks about people who have been his fans from the ő60s, across generations. He describes his journey from „Jimmyš to „Rogerš and the trip he did not make to Rio.  He explains the magic of his 12-string guitar playing.

Conversation 4

Roger demonstrates his vocal style and range and why he thinks its distinctive. He offers his explanation for why Rock & Roll is so powerful. He explains how the Byrds' famous version of „Mr. Tambourine Manš came to be, how they led Columbia Records into the Rock & Roll market with their sound. He plays/sings to illustrate.  He talks about his own sense of urgency and inevitability as a writer and performer.  He describes how he has brought his hobby of electronics to bear on his music and distinguishes between the art of producers and musicians.

Conversation 5

Roger considers the balance between art and commerce. He describes the economics of today‚s music business and details the equipment he has assembled to create his own studio. He talks about his lifelong association with Judy Collins and repeatedly performing hit songs.  He tells why he also celebrates these Old Familiars, and how he works to breathe new life into a long-familiar song. He talks about other people playing songs he wrote and demonstrates how he got the sounds for which „Eight Miles Highš is known.

Conversation 6

„Be there and be prepared,š Roger advises beginning artists, then elaborates.  He remembers hearing that The Beatles declared The Byrds their favorite American band. He explains the vital role the audience plays for any performer. Roger shares the Pete Seeger secret to winning the audience‚s heart.


Special thanks to Judy Collins and her „Wildflowers Festivalš tour team, for connecting us -- and audiences across America -- to Roger McGuinn.

„Thank you!š to Camilla McGuinn for her warm welcome. And we thank Atlanta‚s Ritz-Carlton/Buckhead, for providing us with a wonderful location in which to record this conversation.

We also appreciate the efforts of Appleseed Records‚ Jim Musselman, who made sure we had „Treasures from the Folk Denš hot off the presses!

Related Links:
Visit Roger McGuinn‚s website to keep track of Roger‚s busy schedule and newest accolades. You can listen to his latest recordings of folk music at his Folk Den site
„Treasures from the FolkDenš was produced by and is available from Appleseed Records, „Sowing the seeds of social justice through music.š

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