Folk singer, songwriter Tom Paxton will give benefit performance at WMC

January 13, 1995|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Contributing Writer

He's a legend in the folk music world, mentioned in the same breath with the likes of Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, the Irish Rovers and John Denver. He is a singer as well as a songwriter, whose tunes "you learned in summer camp," said his wife of 31 years.

He is Tom Paxton, best known as the writer of such classics as "The Last Thing on my Mind," "The Marvelous Toy," "Ramblin' Boy," "Bottle of Wine" and "Peace Will Come, and Let It Begin with Me."

Mr. Paxton is scheduled for a concert at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at Baker Memorial Chapel on the Western Maryland College campus. The show is a benefit concert for Common Ground on the Hill.

The Common Ground project is a traditional music and arts program that brings diverse cultures together through their music. The project was founded last year by folk music performer Walt Michael and Robyn Boyd, the organization's administrator.

Mr. Paxton will headline the concert, which will feature American, English and Irish performers, with the gospel choir of Westminster's Union Street United Methodist Church. The choir is led by Eric Byrd, a 1993 WMC graduate and adjunct professor.

"Tom's been a very substantial member of the folk music scene since the early '60s," said Mr. Paxton's wife, Midge.

Known for his love songs, folk tunes and social message lyrics, Mr. Paxton, 57, has cut 30 albums of his own songs, including several albums for children. His songs have been sung by artists as varied as Willie Nelson and Placido Domingo.

"He still cares about building bridges between people, and one way to do that is through music, and that's why we support Common Ground," said Mrs. Paxton, adding that she and her husband are on Common Ground's advisory board.

Mr. Paxton will sing tunes from his latest album, "Wearing the Time," as well as old favorites, Mrs. Paxton said.

Other performers for the concert will include:

* Steve Gillette, songwriter for many recording artists and author of "Songwriting and the Creative Process." He will perform with his wife, Cindy Mangsen, a singer.

* Priscilla Herdman, an award-winning folk singer.

* Zan McLeod, guitarist of the American-Irish music scene. He will perform with Celtic singer Grace Griffith and bodhran player Myron Bretholtz.

* Richard Meyer, a Greenwich Village folk singer-songwriter.

* John Roberts and Tony Barrand, British folk singers and storytellers.

Claes Nobel, of the Nobel Prize family and chairman of United Earth, an organization dedicated to reverence for life, will speak to the audience before the concert.

Common Ground's events take place at Western Maryland College, but the organization is not funded by the school. The group seeks to "bring people in conflict together and to create a learning environment," said Mr. Michael.

"I've been a witness to the power of traditional music and seen how music bridges the cultural gaps -- you don't need to know a word language to get that feeling from music," he said.

A 1968 WMC graduate, he lived in New York for 25 years until last summer when he moved back to Maryland to start Common Ground with the college's blessing.

The organization is run by a 13-member board and 40-member advisory board, which includes folk singer-songwriters Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, and Pete Seeger, in addition to the Paxtons.

Besides the organization's music, there is a visual arts program led by Carroll County artist Linda Van Hart. A fund-raising silent auction of art items will be held at the concert.

Tickets for the Common Ground concert are $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12. VIP seating and reception tickets are $25. Reserved tickets are recommended, as the chapel only holds 600 people. Information: Robyn Boyd, 857-1710 or Walt Michael, 857-2919.

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