Roger McGuinn
Marshall Crenshaw

May 20, 2004
Gwinnett Performing Arts Center - Duluth, GA


Marshall Crenshaw:

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Mr. Crenshaw stepped on stage so inauspiciously at first, he barely stole the limelight from the two large decorative plants on stage. He seemed nervous at first, and perhaps that’s why he wasted little time reminding people why he’s a cult favorite.  Mumbling only “My most famous riff…” he launched into his best-known song, “Someday, Someway.” As anyone who has fallen under Crenshaw’s spell can tell you, he can do no wrong in the songwriting department.  Each time he unearthed another gem from his 23-year back catalog, I thought, “I am finally getting to hear the guy who wrote "Whenever You’re on my Mind / Mary Anne / You’re My Favorite Waste of Time…’” For a man known mainly as a singer-songwriter, Crenshaw sure knew his way around an electric guitar, bringing hints of Chet Atkins and, um, Roger McGuinn to his songs.  And, as cannot be said of all artists, his new material stood up next to the classic stuff.  He blamed his own laziness as the reason last year’s What’s in the Bag? wasn’t available in the lobby.  Too bad—he would have sold a few.

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Due to the low-maintenance nature of the set-up (the plants stayed put, for example), Roger McGuinn was out in no time.  Sporting a dark blazer and matching hat that lent him a strange resemblance to the late Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, the co-founder of the Byrds strummed in from stage left, sat down, and began to recall his 40-plus year career in music. Rather than perform the songs in chronological order, as I was expecting, he moved freely between eras.  Most numbers got an introduction. “I was sitting on a bus with Joni Mitchell…“ began one of several stories that involved him hitting up a colleague for a new song. McGuinn seemed eager to please, but remained a bit tentative in his presentation.  Except for a radical, dazzling guitar reworking of “Eight Miles High“(I think), he came off less as a former L.A. rock star than a cast member from “A Mighty Wind.” Still, as he sprinted for the finish line with “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” any remaining cynics let their guard down and sang along.

Tom Bavis /

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(photos by Chris McKay /

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