Travelers Welcome N.y 'S 'nice Guy,' Josh White Jr.

March 29, 1991|By Michael R. Driscoll | Michael R. Driscoll,Staff writer

Detroit-based folk singer Josh White Jr. has been doubly lucky in life. Not only has he known what he wanted to do for a living since he was 4, but he's been doing it since he was 5.

Now Anne Arundel County will be able to see what the 51 year-old singer and actor's lifetime of experience has taught him, starting tonight and Saturday at the Maryland Inn's King of France Tavern in Annapolis, as the featured guest for the popular monthly "Hard Travelers and Friends" folk music concert series.

White's father was the legendary Josh White Sr., whose music has influenced later performers such as Eric Clapton. He wrote the classic song, "House of the Rising Sun," which was performed by the Britishrock group, the Animals, during the 1960s.

"My dad was performingat a club in New York City," he recalled. "I was 5 years old, and hebrought me down to watch as he was onstage singing, so I just started singing along."

Suddenly, White said, "the spotlight went over to me. My father came over and took me up onstage to finish the song, and I've been there ever since."

This will be White's second appearance with the Travelers. The New York City native first performed inAnnapolis about this time last year.

"I'm really looking forward to communicating with the people in Annapolis," White said. "Music isthe best form of communication for me, and I really work well with the Travelers."

The message that White tries to communicate with his music, deals with the way that people, both globally and locally, can be brought together, across the lines of age, race and religion.

His success in this endeavor could summed up in the words of longtime friend and colleague Donal Leace of Washington, who calls him "a consummate musician, polished, pure, sensitive, quick, witty, and witha great sense of humor."

On the personal level, Leace said, "He'sa generally nice person, a loyal friend, and an all-around decent human being. I've known him for almost 30 years, and it's always a goodtime when he's onstage. He's a consummate musician, and I look forward to his coming around."

In his career, White has performed all over the United States, including such notable venues as the Kerrville International Folk Festival in Texas, Kennedy Center in Washington, Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, and Madison Square Garden in New York City

White, who freely acknowledges the artistic legacy of his father, frequently includes several of White, Sr.'s songs in his performances.

One of his seven albums, "Jazz, Ballads, and Blues," with fellow folkie Robin Batteau, was performed in the style of his father. In 1983, he created and performed "JOSH: The Man and His Music,"a one-man show based on his father's life and work.

When not touring, White says that he has been working with elementary school students in the Detroit area, in a special program called "In Touch Teaching."

"It lasts for two to three weeks in the fall," White said, "Icreate the situations, and then let the students take over. We have about three or four basic scenarios in the program, but once we turn it over to the kids, we never really know what's going to happen."

Working with kids he calls "the single-digits" (those younger than 10) is a new direction for White, who also has a new album of children's music in the works. It will feature his own music, along with the work of performers such as Tom Chapin, Tom Paxton, and Bill Staines.

Show times are 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., both Friday and Saturday nights, with a single Sunday show at 8:30 p.m. Reservations: 263-2641 or269-0990.

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