Barry McGuire, John York bring songs, stories to ModestoBarry McGuire spent the 1960s recording hit songs and mixing with popular music groups like the Mamas and the Papas, the New Christy Minstrels and the Byrds.
The "Eve of Destruction" singer has a lot of stories to tell, and he will share a bunch of them Aug. 24 in between performing classic songs of the era at his "Trippin' the '60s" show with Byrds bassist and guitarist John York at The Seasons Catering Multicultural Event Center in Modesto.
As one example, he tells how he was named in the Mamas and Papas' hit song "Creeque Alley." Remember the lyric: "McGuinn and McGuire still a-getting' higher/ In L.A., you know where that's at?" That was him and Roger McGuinn, the singer and guitarist from the Byrds.
"I turn 77 in October," he said. "How many more years do I have left? When I go, these stories will go with me and nobody will ever hear these stories."
McGuire, who lives in Fresno, has performed the show to paying audiences all over California over the past six or seven years, but the Modesto show is free. It is intended to raise awareness for Hope Haven International Ministries, a nonprofit that provides wheelchairs to needy people in poor countries. Lonny Davis, who works with the charity, has been friends with McGuire for 40 years.
McGuire begins the show by talking about his life in 1963, when he and Randy Sparks co-wrote "Green, Green," which became the first and biggest hit for folk group the New Christy Minstrels. He goes on to talk about the friends he made over the next several years, including McGuinn, John Phillips and Cass Elliot from the Mamas and Papas. He sings "Tambourine Man," "Turn Turn Turn," some Arlo Guthrie music, some John Denver and, of course, his own songs.
He said he had no idea how influential the music would become. "You never know what you're doing," he said. "When you write a song, you don't know it's going to be a hit song. You write the way you feel. They either buy it or they don't."
Audiences usually are surprised McGuire is as old as he is because of the energy he has, he said. He and York, who is 66, play 12-string guitars that fill the room. "I don't know how I do it," McGuire said. "It's fun. It's sliding down the mountain."
People are also surprised with themselves when they know all the words to the songs. "We encourage people to sing the words with us," he said. "Folk music is folks getting together, singing songs."
McGuire said he's still regularly performing because he needs the money. "I don't have a retirement plan," he said with a laugh. "If I would have known that I would live so long, I would have taken better care of my finances."
Davis said he saw McGuire's show in Santa Cruz and loved it. "Barry is the greatest, most entertaining storyteller," he said. "He tells how all these songs originated."
Davis, a past president of the Ceres Rotary Club, got involved with Hope Haven several years ago when a friend invited him to Mexico to do a small wheelchair distribution. He was touched when he saw a mother come in with her disabled 13-year-old daughter, whom she had carried around her whole life. The girl and her mother were completely changed by the wheelchair. "It was dignity that poured into this young lady. For the first time, she had her own of propelling herself. The mother was liberated."
He was hooked and has been helping the organization ever since. He has done deliveries in the Dominican Republic, Romania, Palestine and, most recently, Guatemala as part of a Rotary project. This year, Rotary Clubs in the Central Valley have selected Hope Haven as their service project.
Hope Haven will accept donations at the "Trippin in the '60s" concert. "It's going to be a night of great music and good fun with a very low key presentation of what we're doing for the disabled," Davis said.
Barry McGuire and John York: "Trippin' the '60s"
WHEN: 8-10 p.m. Aug. 24
WHERE: The Seasons, 945 McHenry Ave., Modesto
CALL: (209) 492-7900