Camden Opera House concert SOLD OUT

Rock legend comes to the coast

An evening with Roger McGuinn
By Ryan Martin | Aug 31, 2019
Photo by: John Chiasson Roger McGuinn performs at the Camden Opera House Aug. 31.

CAMDEN — Roger McGuinn, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and frontman of The Byrds, comes to the Camden Opera House on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 7:30 p.m. as the venue continues its tradition of bringing a renowned artist to perform during the Camden Windjammer Festival.

While McGuinn isn’t positive on when he last performed in Maine, he guesses it was within the past five years. He is a traveling musician, with an emphasis on traveling, as he has been around the world by sea 27 times in the last ten years and has four more trips lined up in the future. It’s one of his favorite parts of the job.

McGuinn said he doesn’t get a lot of time to explore the area when he arrives in town for a performance, and while he remembers Camden as a very pleasant and beautiful place to live, he doesn’t get a lot of free time before his show begins.

“Realistically, the day begins around 2 p.m. in the afternoon,” he said. “There’s rehearsals, soundcheck and a lot of time I spend by myself going over the setlist.”

One thing McGuinn doesn’t spend as much time rehearsing, but is still a very big part of his performance, are the many stories he shares with the audience in between songs.

“I love being able to be up there as a solo artist because I really get to feel the impact of the audience — more so than with a band,” he said. “It feels really great getting up there and performing songs and sharing stories that the audience laughs (at) and enjoys.”

While McGuinn’s fan base began in the ’60s with his involvement with influential psychedelic folk band The Byrds, he sees a new fan base through his equally-influential guitar work, which has resulted in the widely-used “jingle-jangle” style.

“Camilla McGuinn, my wife and manager, will occasionally see a younger member of the audience on their way out after the show and ask them, ‘Did your parents drag you out here?’” he said. “But come to find out, most of them are guitar players and fans of my style.”

The name “jingle-jangle” came from The Byrds first #1 hit, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” which includes the lyrics, “In the jingle-jangle morning, I’ll come following you.” McGuinn feels no pressure to overuse this style of playing, saying it comes “quite naturally, it’s just how I play.”

McGuinn’s style has always been unique, incorporating his method of banjo playing into guitar, two instruments he picked up at relatively the same time at a music school in Chicago. It resulted in a rolling finger-picking style that gives a rolling arpeggio sound, which to McGuinn sounds “quite pleasant.”

Pleasant is a great descriptor of the overall vibe at one of McGuinn’s shows. He pays attention to the crowd and they give it right back to him. Since before The Byrds, McGuinn has always been about having fun while playing music.

While he isn’t a big consumer of modern music, mostly classical and jazz, in the ’60s McGuinn was an avid listener of such modern acts as the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and of course, The Beatles.

McGuinn’s favorite Beatles album comes from a fond memory while living in Greenwich Village in New York. He bought the pop band’s second album, “Meet the Beatles!,” at a record store on 8th Street in 1963. He remembers pulling a poster out of the packaging, putting it up on his wall, and learning all the songs on the album. “They just looked like they were having so much fun,” McGuinn said with a smile.

Another influence on McGuinn, Pete Seeger, helped him create the atmosphere of his live shows today. “I remember going to see Pete Seeger and wanting him to play songs I was familiar with, like ‘Bells of Rhymney’ and ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ (a later popular Byrds cover),” he said. “It helped me realize people want to hear the songs they’re familiar with. It helped me bring that feeling to my own performances where I play the songs I think the audience will be most familiar with.”

McGuinn doesn’t let this inhibit his own creative direction though, as he can play almost “any song he wants to play,” so he usually does. Although, while drawing from his massive Folk Den collection, he feels people don’t really want to hear many folk songs at this point.

McGuinn’s latest collection of folk songs is an album he even has a lot of fun listening to: 2018’s “Sweet Memories.” His other favorites include 2011’s “CCD,” 1991’s “Back from Rio,” and the 1968 Byrds album, “Notorious Byrd Brothers.”

Although 1968 represents a rough period for The Byrds, where they saw member David Crosby fired, the relationship between the surviving Byrds is still very friendly, according to McGuinn. “I just got done touring with Chris Hillman, we keep in contact quite a bit, and David Crosby celebrated his 78th birthday yesterday and I was able to wish him a happy birthday via Twitter,” he said. “It’s all very friendly, although I have no desire to get The Byrds back together, just because I love what I’m doing right now so much.”

On a lighter note, McGuinn recalls his fondest memories in the creation of the first Byrds album, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” “Everything was so new and exciting and fresh. I was playing on a Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar. It felt like we were having just as much fun being in a band as I thought the Beatles were in ’63,” he said.

Asked if he had any regrets from his work that he can remember, McGuinn said he doesn’t tend to focus on negative aspects of his work or life. His career still feels exciting, fun and fresh and he continues to travel with his wife, Camilla, and perform in front of eager fans who are just as excited about his music as he is. “I love the whole process of performing — getting up there, telling stories people enjoy — you feel really great doing the whole thing,” he said.

The Camden Opera House is located at 29 Elm St./Route 1. No-fee tickets are $30 in advance, $35 day of show; available at; by calling 236-3154; or at the Camden Town Office weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Lillias Martin | Aug 31, 2019 09:13

Great article

If you wish to comment, please login.