Where it’s at

John McEuen, and CCR music this weekend at the BBH Opera House

Wed, 03/27/2024 - 11:30am

    I’ve got another shout out for the Boomers out there this week. Cast your memory back to your teen years at the beach with your friends. What do you hear? The rhythmic sound of the ocean waves, little kids laughing, the clip-clop of flip-flops as someone walks by your blanket, a lifeguard’s whistle, and, thanks to your battery-powered transistor radio, music! And this weekend at the Opera House you’ll be hearing music you heard way back when and lots more that you didn’t.

    First up on Friday, March 29 the Seth Warner Band takes the stage playing an all Creedence Clearwater Revival concert. The Seth Warner Band – Marc McElroy, Bruce Couillard, Jeff Hall, Zac Francis Arnault, James Jay Fortin, and Seth, of course – have played sold out shows at the Opera House in the past. The band’s original tunes are R&B, blues, soul, Americana … Great musicians and a songwriter who likes to play a classic cover or two of well-loved bands. On Friday, Seth and the Band will bring the music of CCR to The House in a show they’ve billed “Down on the Bayou” (like me you heard the tune playing in your head as soon as you read the name of the show, right?)

    On Seth’s FB page, he asks, “What would you ask to hear if you could only request one CCR tune …” Hmmmm … good question, right? “Fortunate Son?” “Born on the Bayou?” “Bad Moon Rising?” Or maybe, if your name is Susan, the best song ever for you all would definitely be, “Susie Q!” How about “Looking Out My Back Door?” I’d say “Proud Mary,” but the only voice I will forever hear singing that tune is Tina Turner. You, too, eh?

    But, my play list would include… “Down on the Bayou,” “Pagan Baby,” “Run Through the Jungle,” “Green River,” “Sweet Hitch Hiker,” “Susie Q”and “Who’ll Stop the Rain” …What about you?

    I was curious about why Seth and the band decided to devote a show solely to CCR, so … I made contact. He said he’s always loved playing venues “more geared towards listening and a collective celebration of the art of live music ... Seeing and hearing audiences singing along with music, which very often has defined and enhanced their lives, is the best part of putting the work into these shows.”

    So, yeah, the band will not be sliding in one or two of their own material. As Seth notes, “There are so many great CCR songs, and the extended 10 minute-plus "swampy" jams we have to fit in – like “Susie Q” and “Born on the Bayou.”

    It should be a good time so best wear your best dancin’ shoes that night – and if you have a CCR T-shirt …

    Then, on Saturday, John McEuen and The Circle Band take the stage. John McEuen? Wait, you say, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band John McEuen? None other! Read on ...

    John and fellow co-founder of the Nitty Gritty, Les Thompson, have been playing concerts for the past eight years in the Circle Band. Les plays bass and bouzouki (a Greek instrument, think of a lute with a long neck) Danny Knicely on mandolin and guitar, and Matt Cartsonis on mandola and guitar; and John playin’ banjo, mandolin, guitar and fiddle.

    Along with great music there’ll be great anecdotes and after speaking with John, I can say his stories will be highly entertaining ...Topics will include the band’s 28-date sold out 1977 tour in Russia. Yep, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was the first American band to tour in the Soviet Union, details worked out by the U.S. State Department. “A fan of the band, David Hess, was in the State Department advocating for us,” McEuen said adding other bands being considered were Chicago and The Eagles, but Russia chose NGDB. He recalled every town had its own radio station specifically tuned for that town, so radios had just the one knob – for volume. 

    I asked, hopefully, if  “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” was included in the show to which McEuen responded with an exaggerated “Duh?!” He’ll share memories of recording the album in just three weeks (that’s 38 songs, mind you), and the thrill of having Mother Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Merle Travis and other country and bluegrass greats on it. So yeah, expect some cuts from that album and a sing-a-long of the 1907 hymn. “We have to play it. It affects a lot of people, I played it at my mother’s funeral ...and with that song comes some relief.”

    Other tunes on the play list include “Some of Shelley’s Blues,” “House on Pooh Corner,” “Mr. Bojangles,” and a few from McEuen’s new CD out in April, “The Newsman – a man of record.”

    Oh, and mid-show McEuen will ask the audience “Any questions?” If there’s no response, the band’ll play a few more tunes before he asks again ...

    Yes, there will be dancing space, a table with all things Nitty Gritty, and more ... Band plays at 7:30 p.m.

    John McEuen says it’s been at least 10 years since they’ve played a show in Maine with Augusta and Portland being two of the three venues. “We sure are looking forward to this show. It’s the last one of a two and a half week run and it’s really gonna be fun. And ... you got those lobster sandwiches there ...” 

    Best get those tickets for both shows, now! Call the box office: 633-5159 or visit https://boothbayoperahouse.com