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Band Review

Roger McGuinn
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Band Review


Roger McGuinn was as good as ever last night at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum. Performing in the intimate 4th Floor Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert hall, which seats approximately 150, Mr. McGuinn gave a sold-out solo performance inter-spaced with inter-active dialogue framed by Howard Kramer from the Rock Hall Museum. Starting with McGuinn as a 17 high school student in Chicago, the evening provided a quick glimpse into Mr. Mcguinn’s fascinating musical history. McGuinn, known by his family as Jim Scott McGuinn, discussed his work with the Limelighters, Bobby Darin, and other notable early folk bands. The depth of Chicago’s early folk and blues work helped formulate the style and play of McGuinn.

Starting as a banjo player and later focusing on the acoustic guitar, Mr. McGuinn developed a hybrid style of flat-picking and fingerpicking. This style and his skills were evident during the show. Deftly moving around the fret-board on a prototype Martin 7-string guitar, Mr. McGuinn show cased song excerpts and complete songs utilizing his technique. Mr. McGuinn and Martin Guitars are developing a limited edition of the signature McGuinn acoustic 7-string guitar. Playing off the traditional 12-string guitar that McGuinn has made his signature sound, the Martin 7-string has a twin G-string providing an additional octave on the 2nd G-string and an interestingly fuller sound in the manner that McGuinn plays. The new 7-string guitar also includes a pickup mounted just above the bridge for additional amplification.

Influenced by Chicago musicians, including Bob Gibson, the Chicago blues, and later the Beatles, McGuinn's work reflects this style and often incorporates this sound. His twelve-string work and specifically the Rickenbacker sound were a direct influence from the Beatles.

Notable song performances include St. James Infirmary (Blues) and Eight Miles High (which contrary to common belief is about flying to and performing in London. Although extracurricular activities were noted, none were related to these songs).

Mr. McGuinn looked good with his black cowboy boots and Stetson hat. His voice was strong and matched the music from his old and new recordings. Mr. McGuinn was at ease with the dialogue and audience and was clearly enjoying himself. The stories were fascinating, including the tidbit of McGuinn and Bob Zimmerman (Dylan) playing basketball at McGuinn’s home in Malibu and selecting blue tinted narrow frame glasses after running into John Sebastian in Greenwich Village early one morning (something that John Lennon would later emulate after meeting Roger McGuinn).

Mr. McGuinn recently released a new CD called, Roger McGuinn – Limited Edition. The CD includes traditional folk and blues songs as well as original material. The St. James Infirmary and a rockin’ tune called Made in China sounded great on the CD. For Byrds fans, the CD contains a song called Echoes Live which can best be labeled as an electrified acoustic orchestration resembling Eight Miles High. For more information check the following site;

As a final note, Mr. McGuinn testified before Congress on the industry’s recent music copyright concerns. Contrary to the Recording Industry (RIAA) stance, McGuinn believes music should be shared. As he mentioned before congress and in his performance, copying and sharing music off the radio or television has a long history that has not curtailed, limited, or denied these industries or artists from being profitable. Mr. McGuinn feels that sharing music actually encourages music awareness and ultimately product purchase.

For ten dollars the audience enjoyed 1.5 hours of history, culture, music, and a moment of bonding that feeds the soul. A membership at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame costs $50 and provides an excellent opportunity to view the history and culture of music as it was and is today.