“The Concert That Never Was”
Comes to Kirby Theater Stage in Roxboro, NC
With a Fender Stratocaster strapped across Sunday best sweater, Billy McGuigan gazes from behind those legendary black glasses. The current that feeds his guitar seems to electrify him, as well. McGuigan opens the show by asking the audience to confirm its commitment.“Do you believe in rock ‘n’ roll?” he cries.“Yeah!” they shout back. If Buddy Holly was a rock and roll pioneer, Billy McGuigan is a rock and roll evangelist. His audiences—from those who heard Holly on 1950s radio to their grandchildren—can’t help but become true believers in the boy from Lubbock who forever changed American music.
For the last four years, audiences have flocked to “Rave On!,” a tribute to Holly’s music that garners glowing reviews and shatters theater box office records. On February 2, 2009 at 7:30pm, McGuigan and the Rave On Band will bring Buddy Holly to the Kirby Theater, 213 North Main Street, Roxboro NC.
“Buddy’s a huge part of my life. He’s afforded me the ability to do this work,” McGuigan says. Though often associated with the plane crash that ended his life, Holly’s musical innovations—writing his own songs, experimenting with arrangement and production, and exploring studio effects like echo and overdubbing—never stopped influencing rock and roll. In fact, McGuigan will tell you that in Holly’s 16-month career, he did nothing short of change the world. And now, says McGuigan, “It’s my quest to make people feel how important he was.” McGuigan has good reason for his loyalty to Holly. “He changed my world, too.”
McGuigan says he grew up on The Beatles and government cheese. He came from a military family that had limited financial resources but abundant love for music. Though they couldn’t afford formal music lessons, McGuigan’s dad taught by example, a guitar and Beatles chord books always within reach. While his father was stationed in Korea for a year, McGuigan, then 11, staved off longing for his dad by retrieving the guitar stored under his parents’ bed and teaching himself to play. When his father returned, McGuigan surprised him with a new skill. McGuigan and his dad worked up Beatles duets, later adding McGuigan’s younger brothers, also musicians, to the mix.
“My dad was a great singer,” McGuigan recalls. “He sounded like Paul (McCartney). He sang Paul and I sang John.”
McGuigan says he doesn’t exactly impersonate Buddy. “I try to suggest his energy, charisma, spirit,” he says. Those who have seen Billy portray Buddy can testify that his performance far surpasses suggestion. True, McGuigan’s Buddy does not reproduce the gawky but winsome young man America watched on the Ed Sullivan show in 1957. But he nevertheless captures the magic of Holly’s presence, from soft Texan drawl to impish humor. His vocals deliver a mix of innocence and rebellion, leaping between playful hiccups and sultry growls. As the audience’s response swells, McGuigan’s wattage amplifies. The result is a blend of exuberance and charm that makes him an ideal vessel for the rock and roll legend.
This production is sponsored by The Person County recreation, Arts and Parks dept. and the Person County Arts Council.
For advanced tickets call 336-597-1709 or print tickets at home by going to wwwKirbytheater.com.