Watertown Daily Times | Member of New York Chapter of the Blues Hall of Fame appearing Wednesday in Massena


MASSENA — A folk rock singer who was inducted into the New York Chapter of the Blues Hall of Fame in June 2014 will be making a stop in Massena this week.

Marc Black will be appearing at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Massena Public Library.

He’ll be presenting a multimedia program that will take visitors on a musical tour back in time to the 1950s and 1960s, with tunes like “Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and artists ranging from Gene Autry to George Harrison.

“It’s kind of a way to relive those interesting decades. We include a lot of the joyous things that happened,” Mr. Black said during a telephone interview. “It’s just totally unscientific. This is a personal view of these decades. I lived through it. People sing along from beginning to end. They’re kind of shocked they still have those earworms.”

There’s also a focus on events of the eras.

“We also talk about some difficult things like the Cold War and McCarthyism. We talk about how television was the moving force in creating the whole realm of the teenager. We talk about how the exploding economy was really a moving force as well,” he said.

Music has been a part of Mr. Black’s life for many years. As a 6-year-old, Mr. Black said he was listening to Elvis Presley. While he was still in high school, his band, the Blades of Grass, reached the Top 40. On Wednesday, he’ll be performing his own group’s Top 40 hit from 1967, “Happy,” by the Blades of Grass.

“By the time I graduated, I was touring with the Doors and Neil Diamond and the 5th Dimension. It’s been my life’s work and my life’s joy,” he said.

He has also performed and recorded with stars like Art Garfunkel, Rick Danko, Richie Havens, Taj Mahal and Pete Seeger.

In the 1980s, Mr. Black won the American Library Association Award for Best Children’s Album for producing “American Children,” a collaboration with artists like Richie Havens, Taj Mahal and Maria Muldaur.

He was recently named Folk Artist of the Year on ABC Radio, and has recorded more than a dozen CDs, including one “Pick Hit” in Billboard magazine and another that was recognized as a “minor masterpiece” by famed music producer John Hammond Sr.

In addition to Wednesday’s music and discussion, Mr. Black’s program features a slide show that takes the audience back a few decades.

“Part of it is a slide show that my wife has put together which really sends you back in time,” he said.

Music, Mr. Black said, “determines the rhythm of the culture.”

“Back in those days, I point out how the music even sounded like the automobiles. Today it makes sense, like it or not, that the music would be based on the computer,” he said.

Mr. Black spends much of his time on the road these days, playing at festivals, clubs, arts centers, libraries and house concerts.

“We just did 15 days in Maine. People do really get a kick out of it. It’s a heartwarming show,” he said.

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