Roger McGuinn brings his own distinction to the membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame he was awarded in 1991. As titular leader of the Byrds for the entirety of their eight-year career‚ he was the catalyst for an exploration of such a diverse range of musical styles; the band's discography stands as a template for contemporary rock 'n' roll.
Having toured and performed folk music as a guitarist and banjo player with the Limeliters‚ the Chad Mitchell Trio and Bobby Darin‚ McGuinn was a veteran of the New York and Los Angeles music scene prior to forming The Byrds in 1965. The chiming sound of McGuinn's 12-string guitar‚ combined with complex soaring vocal harmonies‚ distinguished a set of hits for the group in the mid-'60s‚ the most prominent of which furthered the impact of Bob Dylan on the mainstream of American culture.
As the original quintet splintered‚ McGuinn continued to front The Byrds in a return to the rootsy likes of folk and country music from which he came. But in the process‚ the group also pioneered the use of synthesizers and incorporated ingenious production into their albums‚ all the while maintaining the familiar points of the sound they first forged as well as the respective lineup's musical integrity.
Calling a halt to The Byrds in 1973‚ McGuinn embarked on a solo career that has included a stint in Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review in 1975 and collaboration with self-avowed Byrds fan Tom Petty. Roger acknowledges the growing legacy of his former band‚ but his recent devotion to the "Folk Den" project is emblematic of the continuity of his career: long enamored of technology‚ McGuinn has enacted a fusion of the folk tradition and the World Wide Web in recent years via this all-encompassing enterprise‚ and he further extends the traveling minstrel ethic by touring regularly on his own.
At the rate Roger McGuinn is going -- quietly‚ calmly and self-assuredly‚ as he conducted himself in this conversation -- the legacy he shares and maintains is sure to ignite the creative spark in generations of musicians yet to hear his music.

I am very much looking forward to the show that you're going to play up here in Vermont next week. At the Vergennes Opera House.
What kind of a theater is it?
I honestly don't know. I've never been there before. It's a new project‚ apparently‚ from dealing with the fellow who runs the operation. It's one of these very old theaters that's been refurbished for -- at least to some degree -- modern times. And it sounds like it'd be as much fun to be at the venue as perhaps to play the music‚ so I'm excited.

Yeah‚ that's what we specialize in playing; we go to refurbished theaters. We just did one last night in Hammond‚ Louisiana‚ the Columbia Theater. It's a beautiful old theater that they restored. And that's happening all around the country. There's a wonderful trend going on with small communities and even large cities restoring their old theaters. It's very wonderful.
It is. It's a great antidote to the giant‚ concrete edifices that are being renamed for corporations here there and everywhere.
I just played with Bruce Springsteen at the Amway Center in Orlando. [laughs]
I can hear a lot of meaning in your laugh there. I read about your interaction with Bruce on your website. What was that experience like‚ to come out in front of his audience?
It was great. Well‚ they were very accepting. I was happy to see that they liked me. I mean‚ we were like old friends up there‚ although we haven't really known each other that long. I met him at Tom Petty's house some years ago. But‚ there's a lot of camaraderie.
Yeah‚ you must've felt some camaraderie with the audience then‚ in terms of being accepted. I'm interested to see what kind of audience shows up to see you next week.
Me too. It's fairly remote‚ right? What's it closest to‚ Burlington?
Yeah‚ it's 20 minutes outside of Burlington‚ which in itself is three hours from Boston‚ a couple hours from Montreal. So yeah‚ remote would be a polite way to describe it.
Well‚ so is Hammond‚ Louisiana‚ and we had about 700 people that came from various places. They came from New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
It's a real treat to be able to see any musician of your stature play in such different places. And playing solo like you do so much of the time is really interesting‚ too. Because it takes a lot of‚ I would think‚ courage as well as poise to get up in front of people.
Yeah‚ there's a learning curve. Like when I first started‚ it was difficult‚ and then after doing it for a while it became just a pure joy to go out there and play for people‚ and I prefer it to playing with a band.
Do you really?
I really do.