Music has been an important part of Marc Black’s life since he was a young child growing up in the late 1950s.
“I was moved by the energy of early rock ’n’ roll,” Black said. “I was really affected by it, and wanted to be a part of it.”
While in high school in central New Jersey, he helped form a four-part harmony group called the Blades of Grass that signed a record contract in New York City.
Their version of the song “Happy” became a hit in some parts of the country in 1967, when the band members were still finishing high school.
During the late 1960s, the band shared the stage with such music heavyweights as the Doors, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, and The 5th Dimension.
Black, who now lives in Westchester County, N.Y., will perform Saturday, April 25, at 1 p.m. at Shelton’s Plumb Memorial Library in a free concert sponsored by the Friends of the Shelton Libraries.
Insight into an era
Black, 66, will take audience members on a musical tour through the 1950 and ’60s in a one-man show. “I’ve picked out songs that are revealing of what we were going through then,” he said.
These will range from doo-wop to folk to pop, with tunes by artists as varied as Dean Martin and George Harrison. The songs will be familiar to most listeners.
“I’ll offer insight into our history through the lens of music,” Black said.
Black has made a living in the music field his entire life. He described his musical style as a mix of blues, folk and rock.
He’s been inducted in the New York Blues Hall of Fame and been named Folk Artist of the Year on ABC Radio.
For many years Black lived in Woodstock, N.Y., a rural town in upstate New York long known for its arts scene as well as for providing the name for the infamous 1969 outdoor music festival (which actually occurred in Bethel, N.Y.).
He’s also lived in Manhattan and written scores for TV commercials and films.
In the 1980s, Black won the American Library Association Award for best children’s album for producing American Children, a collaboration with such artists as Richie Havens, Taj Mahal and Maria Muldaur.
He’s also performed with Art Garfunkel and folk legend Pete Seeger, recorded with John Sebastian (the Lovin’ Spoonful) and Eric Weissberg (of Dueling Banjos fame), and played at the Sundance Film Festival.
Started with a $6 guitar from his parents
It all began as a youngster when his parents bought him a $6 guitar. Black would regularly purchase 45 rpm records, “take them into my playroom, and pretend to play and sing along. I was hooked.”
He still owns and uses some of the same guitars he purchased in the late 1960s, when he was with the Blades of Grass.
His music often deals with social issues, and he’s most closely associated with environmental activism.
Black now spends most of his time on the road, playing festivals, clubs, arts centers, libraries, and house concerts.
He said he likes traveling around to perform intimate shows like the upcoming one in Shelton. “I get to meet new people and see new places,” Black said.