Donovan brings his hurdy-gurdy sounds to the Central Coast.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Hippie folk sensation Donovan was the pied piper of the flower children, and his hits like “Season of the Witch” and “Sunshine Superman” continue to be potent reminders for baby boomers of those acid-fueled Sunday afternoons in the park.
Donovan kicks off his “Ritual Groove Tour” – named after his forthcoming album – at the Golden State Theatre, 8pm on Friday with a solo acoustic set followed by an electric set with his band. Keeping with the counterculture sensibility, he ensures the show will be “a fragrant evening of music, poetry, colour and aroma.”
The Scottish musician began to gain notoriety around the United Kingdon in 1965 when he was 18 with hits like “Catch The Wind.’’ He was featured in D.A. Pennebaker’s 1967 documentary Don’t Look Back about Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of England. In one scene, the mop-headed pixie plays a sweet rendition of his ballad, “To Sing For You,” only to be trumped by Dylan’s mindbending version of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Game, set and match.
As was the fashion at the time, the British media in England had dubbed Donovan,“The U.K.’s answer to Bob Dylan” and he was at the forefront of the folk scene, performing with Joan Baez and Pete Seeger.
Donovan continued to expand his musical style: straddling the folkie feel of early Dylan and the experimental psychedelia of the Beatles’ Revolver.
He fuses acoustic guitar with the pleasant tootles of a clarinet on “Jennifer Juniper;” on “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” he adds a distinct vibrato to his voice against the backdrop of sitar shrieks.
As a British artist in the ’60s, it was only natural that Donovan and The Beatles would cross creative paths: He contributed lyrics to The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” and Paul McCartney sang background vocals on “Mellow Yellow.”
“The [’60s] changed the cultural landscape through ideas and songs about inner discovery, spiritualism, mediation, yoga, ecology and feminism. I shared this mission with Dylan and The Beatles, among others,” Donovan told uncut magazine.
After dropping out of the scene for nearly 30 years, Donovan’s career has been revived over the past decade. He’s toured worldwide, released studio albums and, in 2005, his autobiography, The Hurdy Gurdy Man. The New York Times called the memoir, “… a very strange book (what else?) that revisits the fertile, trippy ’60s… ”
Donovan continues to be one of our direct links to the peace-and-love generation.
DONOVAN performs 8pm Friday, at Golden State Theatre, 417 Alvarado St. 372-3800. $29/$59/$79.