Noel Paul Stookey loves his home in Blue Hill, Maine, but February isn’t the nicest month of the year to be there. That’s one reason he’s headed to Florida for three shows starting Friday, Feb. 19 at the Palladium. He’s also holding several meetings with members of his secret society.
“I’ll be hanging out with seven devotees of the Dimpled White Orb,” Stookey told me during a recent phone call. “We’re playing golf on your beautiful Florida courses.”
Stookey, best known as one of the guys with a goatee and a guitar in the legendary folk band Peter, Paul and Mary, is coming to the Palladium at the invitation of his friend and former songwriting partner, Jim Mason, who now lives in Tampa. Stookey and Mason (along with Dave Dixon) were co-writers of Peter, Paul and Mary’ s 1967 satirical hit “I Dig Rock ‘n Roll Music.” It was one of the first times Stookey had collaborated with a songwriter other than Peter Yarrow.
“We sat down on the floor in an apartment in New York City and came up with a tune was very exciting…collaboration in that era was a brand new ballgame for me,” Stookey said. “I think (Bob) Dylan’s strong presence, ideologically, contributed to a lot of writers taking chances and speaking out of their personal perspective.”
Most critics still consider Album 1700 PP&Ms most ambitious release, with songs styles that blended rock, jazz, pop and folk.
I was just starting high school when the album was released and immediately formed a folk-pop trio called Joe, Paul and Sherrie that played local coffee houses around Tampa Bay. We did our best to cover some of the songs from 1700 , particularly the jazz ballad “Whatshername,” but none of us knew how to play a diminished or augmented chord.
Joe, Paul and Sherrie are happily retired but Stookey is still going strong and has “Whatshername” on the song list for his Florida shows.
The shows will also feature a question and answer section led by WMNF DJ Cam Dilley following intermission.
“My wife is concerned that I’m going to wax too much,” Stookey said. “The second half is not going to be all conservation. There will be plenty of singing.”
Stookey will talk about his longtime collaboration with Mary Travers, who died last September after a long battle with leukemia. They had been performing together – with some sabbaticals – since the early 1960s. Stookey said the time apart helped the group stay together.
“Most bands have such dire problems they break up or substitute members. We took time off. We had respect for each other and we brought that to the stage,” he said.
When Travers was diagnosed that time apart was no longer so important.
“Peter and I were there every two to three weeks. Now that she is gone there is a sadness but an awareness of just how much my life has been impacted by her.”
Noel Paul Stookey will appear in concert at the intimate Palladium Theater in downtown St. Petersburg on Friday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are also available for a post-show reception with Stookey hosted by WEDU-TV. Call 727 822-3590 or visit www.mypalladium.org for tickets and information.
A JAZZ VALENTINE FROM WHITNEY JAMES
Jazz vocalist Whitney James is returning to the Side Door Cabaret for a special Valentine’s show on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. It’s going to be a night of romantic ballads by Whitney and her great band. Whitney is based in Tierra Verde but she is playing these days in Seattle, San Francisco and New York in support of a fine new album called “The Nature of Love.”
Her January show sold out in advance, so get your tickets early for this intimate evening of music. Call 727 822-3590 or visit www.mypalladium.org for tickets and information.
Both the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune wrote stories about Whitney’s last show. To read them, follow the links below:
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