Roger McGuinn's ongoing one-man-band solo acoustic tour heads East this week, with the Byrds leader hitting Phoenixville, Pennsylvania on Thursday night (April 25th). Last year, McGuinn — definitely not one of those '60s legends content to look back on past glories — thrilled both fans and critics with his and fellow Byrds co-founder Chris Hillman's sold out 'Sweetheart Of The Rodeo' 50th anniversary tour.
McGuinn is back on his own promoting Sweet Memories — his first new rock album in 14 years. In addition to the nine new originals co-written by McGuinn and wife Camilla, Roger re-recorded such Byrds classics as “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” “So You Want To Be A Rock N' Roll Star” — and an “update” on “Chestnut Mare,” called “Chestnut Mare Christmas.” McGuinn has been releasing his series of “Folk Den” traditional music collections online for the past dozen-plus years.
We asked Roger McGuinn to describe his current live dates: “I do, kind of, a one-man-show. I tell stories and set up the songs with stories and it varies from venue to venue — or from city to city. People are asked after the show what they liked the best and they usually say 'The stories' — and then they go, 'Oh, I liked the music, too.'”
Roger McGuinn literally witnessed the evolution of the live rock business develop before his eyes. We pressed him to recall the original types of halls the original incarnation of the Byrds would be playing 50-plus years ago: “There weren't good venues, there weren't good sound systems — when we first started out, there were no monitors. You had to go off the back of the wall, hear the echo off the back of the wall to hear your vocal and the Doppler effect would change the pitch, so you had to compensate for that. (Laughs) It was really a mess. And then Showco and these big companies came up and sound reinforcement and monitors. . . And venues changed from high school gyms to arenas. They were dedicated rock n' roll venues, and so, the business had changed and so you could do more dates a year. Peak, I think, about 200-a-year, we were doing.”