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AGING TROUBADOUR WARMLY EMBRACED

Concert review

Roger McGuinn

Friday night in Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College.

Roger McGuinn trod across the recently revamped Rockwell Hall stage Friday night, strumming his 12-string guitar and singing "My Back Pages" -- and that was all it took for the multigenerational audience to clasp this aging-yet-hip troubadour to its collective bosom.

McGuinn played and sang tunes from his and a generation's past that resonated so well with the crowd that memories of those halcyon days of the late '60s and early '70s -- when music by the Byrds (McGuinn's former group) meshed close-quarter harmonies with folk and rock at the top of the charts -- were brought back to life, if only for a few hours.

He didn't just re-create old Byrds hits, however. While McGuinn's solo arrangements of "Turn, Turn, Turn," "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Eight Miles High" brought oohs and ahhs from his legion of fans, so, too, did some of his later material.

"Draggin'," a tune about 747s racing across the country, and "Jolly Roger" were among the handful of post-Byrds songs in his catalog that got the crowd going. Plaudits from the audience also greeted some of the older folk standards such as "St. James Infirmary" and "James Alley Blues" that he might have come across during his days as a backup musician for the Chad Mitchell Trio and Bobby Darin.

In fact, there was little, if any, reason to gripe about this concert. McGuinn is an excellent all-around guitarist whose new arrangements for the concert's tunes were as full-bodied as one had any right to expect from a single musician. His voice is still as beguiling as ever, and his stage patter -- his general interaction with the audience -- was polished yet inviting, professional yet warm.

McGuinn's trademark jangly electric and acoustic 12-string guitars added subtle shadings to songs that were so familiar to the audience that it was if the notes were part of their genetic makeup. Occasionally, he even brandished his specially constructed seven-string guitar to add more sonic colors to his palette.

Niagara Falls singer/songwriter/guitarist Joe Mombrea opened the program with a well-received, if somewhat average, open mike-type performance that included a clever, tongue-in-cheek ode to his wife ("She Does the Laundry"), along with covers and medleys of Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Dave Matthews songs.

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