Roger McGuinn, Fox Tucson Theatre, June 16

Strumming the first chiming notes of "My Back Pages" backstage before walking out with his trademark 12-string Rickenbacker, Roger McGuinn led, like always, with the music.

In a two-set show with songs spanning his Byrds career and solo work, McGuinn also played the part of storyteller. While fascinating, he stuck to a matter-of-fact tone, casually mentioning his "friend's low-budget motorcycle movie" and the "chubby little guy" (David Crosby) he picked up to sing harmony.

Dressed in all black—from fedora to cowboy boots—McGuinn took a seat after "My Back Pages" and told of how Peter Fonda pitched Bob Dylan on writing music for Easy Rider, only to be sent to McGuinn with a cocktail napkin that contained a snippet of what would become "The Ballad of Easy Rider."

Alternating between his custom 7-string Martin, a 12-string acoustic guitar, and banjo, McGuinn played a string of Byrds classics, "Mr. Spaceman" ("the first country-rock space song I wrote"), his country flat-picked version of Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd," a crowd sing-along on Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," "Drug Store Truck Driving Man" and "Fifth Dimension." Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom" closed the first set.

McGuinn opened the second set with a run of songs he wrote with Jacques Levy, intended for a country-rock musical, including "Lover of the Bayou" and a gorgeous version of "Chestnut Mare."

His later career has turned largely to folk music, a devotion that has turned into a decade of Folk Den and sea-shanty albums. Smiling, McGuinn played those shanties with a youthful glee.

Talking more about the Byrds' early days led McGuinn to the show's end: "Eight Miles High," with mesmerizing guitar leads between the verses, and then the classic "Turn! Turn! Turn!"

The encore represented both halves of the night—and McGuinn's career: Byrds hits "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star" and "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" led into the old sea-shanty "Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her," and then a newer composition, "May the Road Rise To Meet You," written with his wife from an old Irish blessing.

His tenor still strong at 69, McGuinn is a treasure in concert.


More by Eric Swedlund

  • This Ain’t Basketball

    Diverse Tucson quintet unleashes its fifth LP
    • Oct 20, 2016

    Matt and Kim headline new Dusk Music Festival bringing other national and local acts together
    • Oct 13, 2016
  • The Madcap Laughs

    Why onetime Tucsonan Robyn Hitchcock is a two and a half trick pony
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Noise Annoys

    Baby Gas Mask, absurdist soul and prog, plus Chaka!
    • Oct 13, 2016
  • Showing Us

    Not your Fine Young ones, but Summer Cannibals bring it better at 191 Toole
    • Mar 12, 2015

The Range

Get Your Spooks On for a Halloweekend at Hotel Congress

In the Flesh: Howe Gelb's 60th B-day Bash at the Rialto Theater

Song of the Day: 'Cosmic Love Song No. 23' by Louise Le Hir

More »

Latest in Live

  • Noise Annoys

    Baby Gas Mask, absurdist soul and prog, plus Chaka!
    • Oct 13, 2016
  • B-Sides: DJQ

    • Jul 28, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Noise Annoys

    Mute Swan and the Curse of Local Hype
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Honky Tonk Girl

    How this Tucson 19-year-old might trip the country electric
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2016 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation