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FLYING INTO TOWN
ROGER MCGUINN BRINGS THE BYRDS' LEGACY TO LIFE

PREVIEW

WHAT: Roger McGuinn

WHEN: 8 p.m. next Friday

WHERE: The Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall, 1300 Elmwood Ave.

TICKETS: $15 to $29.50

INFO: 878-3005

Rock legend Roger McGuinn happily makes music on his terms.

He tours when he wants, restricts his appearances to concert halls and records albums in his house on a portable laptop equal, he says, to a 64-track recording studio.

It's a long way from the tumultuous lifestyle and record company control the founding member of the Byrds sang about decades ago in "So You Wanna Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star":

"What you pay for these riches and fame

Well it's all a vicious game

You're a little insane

What you get is the public acclaim

Don't forget who you are

You're a rock 'n' roll star"

McGuinn will be taking his chiming, 12-string Rickenbacker and playlist laden with solo material, folk standards, Byrds classics and signature Dylan songs to the recently refurbished Buffalo State Performing Arts Center next Friday.

"Being autonomous and still making a living without selling out to the company store is the good part," McGuinn said recently from his home in Orlando, Fla. "Camilla (McGuinn's wife) and I are having so much fun now."

The couple's partnership, bound together through their faith as born-again Christians, extends to musical collaboration. They co-wrote six songs on McGuinn's newest CD, "Limited Edition," which includes a version of late friend George Harrison's "If I Needed Someone" and folk and blues standards.

On the traditional Appalachian ballad, "Shady Grove," the musically inventive McGuinn experimented with a five-string banjo and hip-hop drum loop.

The traditional folk songs are tied into McGuinn's online "Folk Den" preservation project begun in the mid-1990s. He records and makes available, for free, a folk standard a month on his Web site, www.rogermcguinn.com.

"I noticed at that time -- and it's still the case -- that the singer-songwriters had taken over folk, and anything acoustic was considered folk music," McGuinn said. "I love the traditional end of folk, and I thought these songs would be lost if nobody did them."

He plans to issue a three-CD, 75-song package of Folk Den songs later this year to mark its 10th anniversary.

McGuinn used a laptop computer and recording software to record "Limited Edition." The whole setup, he said, cost only a few thousand dollars.

"It's like a half-million-dollar studio in a little box," McGuinn said.

His involvement with computers began in the early 1980s, but was known before that as a technofile while in the Byrds. He carried a telephone in his briefcase decades before cell phones were commonplace.

McGuinn makes the point by telling about a visit from Bob Dylan in the 1970s.

"He went through my house one time when I was living in Malibu, and I didn't have many books," McGuinn recalled. "I'm more technologically oriented, and he just looked at me like, 'Oh, man, you don't have any books.'

"Yeah, he thought I was an idiot," McGuinn laughed. "I didn't memorize the 'Tintinnabulation of the Bells' like he did, but I knew how to build a computer."

This year marks the 40th anniversary since the Byrds and a 22-year-old McGuinn topped the charts with Dylan's "Mr. Tanbourine Man." The song's restrained harmonies and McGuinn's shimmering guitar introduced "folk rock" into the pop idiom and gave Dylan his first No. 1 hit.

As for the future, McGuinn takes his lead from the late classical guitarist, Andres Segovia.

"Segovia was booked in Carnegie Hall when he was 93. The only reason he missed the gig was because he died. I want to keep going like that."

e-mail: msommer@buffnews.com