The Byrds' Roger McGuinn And Country Artist Marty Stuart Discuss Joint Tour Ahead Of Bethlehem Stop

This appeared on Lehigh Valley Live - November 5, 2013

Roger McGuinn and Marty Stuart share a friendship that runs deeper than a mutual love of music and performing.
There is a tremendous amount of respect and admiration each has for the other.

"I've been waiting since I was 16 years old to play with Roger," Stuart says during a Monday morning phone interview. "Roger's such a musical adventurer. He's not scared of anything."

Though McGuinn and Stuart have known about each other for years, it wasn't until recently that the two veteran musicians hit the road together for a joint tour. (The two met in 2012 when Stuart invited McGuinn to perform on his The Marty Stuart Show in Nashville.)

They perform Friday night at Musikfest Cafe in Bethlehem.

"I'm looking forward to it," says McGuinn in a separate phone interview. "It's always fun to play with Marty."

McGuinn says the show will have the former Byrds lead singer and guitarist and Stuart -- a Grammy Award-winning country singer-songwriter and guitarist -- and his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, trading sets before closing out the show together. McGuinn describes the setup as more of a review type of show rather than a traditional concert.

McGuinn says fans can expect to hear Byrds hits such as "Turn, Turn, Turn" and "Mr. Tambourine Man" sprinkled in with his post-Byrds work. Fittingly enough, Stuart will be using a guitar once owned and played by former Byrds singer-guitarist Clarence White. (White died in 1973.)

"Between our set list and his set list and the different collaborations, it's a wonderful evening of music," Stuart adds. "Hearing the sound of (McGuinn's) voice and the 12-string guitar of his and the guitar I play. ... It touches my heart in a wonderful way. It just seems right."

Stuart says while McGuinn's background in more traditional folk music and his own blend of traditional country, honky-tonk and rockabilly may sound like an unlikely pairing, the two are closer than one would think.

"At the same time, it's cohesive. At the same time, it's steady as a rock," Stuart says.

Stuart says he personally cannot feel the "roots" of country music in today's crop of contemporary genre hit-makers. Stuart says it is part of his and his band's mission to re-introduce that sound to others.

"I don't feel a lot of authenticity in what I hear, that's not to say it isn't good," Stuart says. "Me and the Superlatives are definitely on a campaign. Our job was to re-energize traditional country music and present it in the 21st century."

Similarly, McGuinn has been preserving the roots of folk music through his Folk Den website. McGuinn says he created the website -- which features downloadable recordings by McGuinn of traditional folk tunes -- out of concern that the genre would be neglected in favor of the more contemporary, singer-songwriter style and the music would be lost for future generations to discover. (McGuinn has also released a collection of recordings titled "Folk Den Project.")

"It's just a labor of love," McGuinn says of the site. "My hope is people will download these songs and pass them off to their friends and families."

By Dustin Schoof

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