December 2, 2012

Concert #659 - Barry McGuire - Gelencser House Concerts (December 1, 2012)

Last night marked my first-time ever to attend a show in a house-concert setting. The event took place at the Gelencser residence in Claremont, California, so now their living room is listed in my concert database alongside the Hollywood Bowl, Greek Theatre, House Of Blues and other famed venues. The hosts, Andy and Janice Gelencser, deserve a lot of praise for opening up their home to larger groups of people, putting in time and effort to organize the concert and accepting a great deal of inconvenience without any financial benefit, all done for the love of music. Again, kudos to them.

This was my fifth time to see Barry live in concert and the fourth time to attend his "Trippin' the Sixties" show. He is seventy-seven now, an age when most of his singing peers from the sixties are either retired or dead. Barry, on the other hand, keeps pressing on and well he should, as he is still perfectly capable of putting on an entertaining show that is heart-warming, humorous and informative.

Barry McGuire sharing stories with the audience
Masterfully intertwining stories with music, Barry's show kept moving along at a fast pace. I particularly enjoyed the story-telling part of the show, with Barry paying his respects to many musical heroes from decades ago, among them Tim Hardin, John Denver, John Sebastian, Scott McKenzie, Steve Goodman, Zal Yanovski, The Byrds, The Mamas & The Papas, Arlo Guthrie, PF Sloan, Lou Adler and Fred Neil. Barry also made frequent references to the "herbal medicines" used by many of the top musicians of the era.

I was impressed by Barry's overall shape. He performed the entire concert with full intensity, lots of self-confidence and it appeared to me that he enjoyed the show as much as the rest of us. His voice did not falter, he never looked for words and came up with funny quips whenever needed.

Compared to earlier shows, last night's "Trippin' the Sixties" set included a few new additions, such as Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode", CCR's "Proud Mary" and "Take Me Home, Country Roads" from the repertoire of John Denver. Funny thing though, the latter song was actually released in the early seventies.

Green Green
Eve Of Destruction
Everybody's Talkin'
Johnny B. Goode
Turn Turn Turn
California Dreamin'
San Francisco
Creeque Alley
Tambourine Man
City Of New Orleans
If I Were A Carpenter
Proud Mary
Get Together
Dancing In The Street
Take Me Home, Country Roads

For me, the highlight of the show was Tim Hardin’s “If I Were A Carpenter”.

Barry's shows just wouldn't be the same without the competent support provided by John York, a musician whose credentials include a stint with the Byrds. To these eyes and ears, John is an outstanding support musician who adds value without ever attempting to outshine the headliner. His guitar solos were great and his singing was subdued, just the way a backup-vocalist is supposed to sing. And he's got a sense of humor, too: when a spectator asked Barry about how he hooked up with John, the answer came fast and short from the latter: "Internet dating service"!

Barry McGuire (left) and John York

After the show, I had once again the good fortune of shaking hands with Barry and chatting with him for a couple of minutes. His humility, warmth and friendship are something to behold.

From left to right: My friend Steve, Barry McGuire and Yours Truly
Barry's autograph on my newly purchased CD
Overall, my first-ever exposure to house concerts was a success. I liked the intimacy of the place and enjoyed meeting the hosts. Oh yeah, the brownies were great, too.

The stage
Barry McGuire and John York (both seated) after the show
Barry McGuire (right) and John York with a fan
The merch table

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