Tom Paxton is a genuine American icon. The legendary folk singer and songwriter has been performing, singing, writing and recording songs for over 50 years and, judging by his performance to a sold-out house at the Broadway Cultural Center, he shows no signs of slowing down.
The evening began with an in-depth, on-stage interview, conducted by Vivian Nesbitt and John Dillon, for their radio show, Art of the Song. Broadcast weekly on Albuquerque's public radio station, KUNM, the program is now syndicated to over 100 stations nationwide. The live interview will be edited and incorporated into a one hour episode, featuring highlights from the show itself.
Paxton, in person, was a delight to listen to, engaging the audience for over half an hour, with personal stories, experiences and philosophies, delivered with genuine frankness and humor and without any trace of ego. His remarks were also liberally sprinkled with memorable one-liners ('I wanted to be an actor, but decided to trade the uncertainty of life as an actor, for a career as a folk singer.')
And what an extraordinary career it has been. Paxton has traveled the world, from Australia to Scandinavia and his songs have been performed by people as diverse as Harry Belafonte, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson, as well as being translated into a number of different languages. He was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
By the time the conversation ended and the show began, he felt more like a friend than a celebrity and the performance that followed kept the audience completely hooked all the way through. Paxton's work ranges from serious political protest and social comment, to lighthearted and comical compositions, that moved the audience, in turn, to fall silent and laugh out loud - no mean achievement in itself.
His work has endured, in part, because even those songs written years ago, still have an impact and a relevance in today's world. 'Whose Garden Is This?' and 'There Goes the Mountain', both of which address the destruction of the planet for financial gain, could have been penned within the past few weeks. He has also been inspired to write about specific events, such as 9/11. His song, 'The Bravest,' pays homage to the brave firefighters who lost their lives attempting to save others, on September 11, 2001.
The audience was encouraged to join in with the chorus of some of his most well known songs, such as "Bottle of Wine' and 'The Last Thing on My Mind' and he delighted us all with a brand new composition, giving an entertaining, comical twist to the age-old battle between the sexes.
It's not hard to understand why Paxton inspires such a loyal following and has such a strong connection with his fans, but it would have been nice to see more younger faces among the audience, most of whom were, definitely, past their prime. Young folk don't know what they're missing. Paxton, who is still hitting the road at 75, is a legend in his own lifetime and thanks go to Art of the Song, for bringing an extra dimension to this memorable evening of pure, thought provoking entertainment. The edited version of the interview and performance will air on KUNM on April 10th at 10.00pm. Mark the date on your calendar now and make a point of tuning in!
For more info: artofthesong.org