Tuesday, August 10, 2010

College Riverfront Series Hosts Guitar Duo Mac Walter & John Cronin

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Guitarists Mac Walter and John Cronin will bring their impressive finger work and gorgeous harmonies to Chestertown for the second concert of the Washington College Riverfront Concert Series on Tuesday evening August 17.

Sponsored by the College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the concert will take place at 6:30 p.m. on the riverside lawn behind the Custom House, located at the corner of High and Water streets. Lemonade and light refreshments will be provided; attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets or lawn chairs. In case of inclement weather, the concert will take place in The Egg, a performance space in Hodson Hall Commons on the main Washington College campus.

Walter and Cronin, who are cousins, started making music together as teenagers, playing at family gatherings and developing a mutual interest in folk music. Each later established his own impressive career.

A three-time winner of the Washington Area Music Awards, Mac Walter (at right in photo, above) began his music career at 15 when Marianne Price, formerly of Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, convinced him to give up the ukulele and try the guitar. Three months later he was playing in Price's band, and he never looked back. After attending the Berklee College of Music, he returned to the Washington D.C. area and began working as a guitarist and singer/songwriter.

Walter was heavily influenced by folk luminaries such as Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt and Raun MacKinnon Burnham. He developed his unique finger-style approach to playing a variety of music—folk, rock, blues, jazz, and country—at the Charlie Byrd Studio in Bethesda, MD. Starting in 1987, Walter spent eight years with Boogie Woogie and blues vocalist Deanna Bogart and her band. The group released three CDs and headlined jazz and blues festivals all over Europe and the U.S. Walter also played with other Washington, DC legends, including Grace Griffith, Danny Gatton, and Roy Buchanan.

John Cronin homesteaded in Alaska before settling in British Columbia, where he was drawn to the Western cowboy flavor of the local music. His music soon reflected the ruggedness of his environs, and he developed a muscular style of guitar playing. He led many bands in British Columbia and spent seven years as lead guitarist for Canadian musical icon Ian Tyson. With Tyson's band, Cronin played to sold-out concerts all over Canada and the U.S. He also toured with renowned fiddle player Vassar Clements.

Together, John Cronin and Mac Walter have created two albums: Cousins, released in 2003, and Second Cousins, released in 2006. They also provided back-up guitar and vocals on Tom Wisner's last album, Follow on the Water. Wisner, a musician known as the Bard of the Chesapeake Bay, commented about the duo: "I've heard it said, ... that Mac is the mind and John is the heart of the guitar. The fact is that any interval of time may find either one of them using heart, mind and body to pull meaning out of this simple machine they love." For more on the duo, visit http://www.macwalter.com.

The concert sponsor, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College, explores our nation's history, particularly the legacy of its Founding era, in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America's democratic experiment. For more information visit http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu.

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