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Robyn Hitchcock teams with hero for special concert

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011

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Robyn Hitchcock doesn’t mind doing a little living in the past. Especially if it’s with Joe Boyd.

“Live & Direct From 1967” pairs Hitchcock, the former Soft Boys member who’s been a solo artist since 1981, and Boyd, a record producer who worked with Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention and others. It’s a music and spoken-word show that mixes Boyd’s remembrances — many from his 2006 memoir, “White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s” — with Hitchcock’s performances of songs from his history.

“I listened to the records he produced when I was a kid,” says Hitchcock, 58, “and I suppose I evolved into the kind of artist he might have produced ... because he nurtured the people who had such a big influence on me.

“So he was working with the people I was listening to and eagerly awaiting their new product. (To) a 14-year-old, those records had a kind of mystical quality. They were tablets from on high. The new Incredible String Band album might reveal the meaning of life, just like the new Bob Dylan album might.

“So Joe obviously has a high currency with me that will always stick.”

Hitchcock first met Boyd during 1985, when the 68-year-old producer was working on R.E.M.’s “Fables of the Reconstruction.” He heard Boyd do readings from “White Bicycles” after it was published, and he pitched the idea of adding music to the sessions, starting in 2007 at the South By Southwest Music + Media Conference.

“Joe has a selection of episodes that he reads,” Hitchcock explains. “We rotate them to keep them fresh, which is good because I don’t like to have to sing the same songs night after night. So I have a kind of rotating arsenal of tunes I can sing. There’s usually about five or six episodes from (Boyd) and, I suppose, six or seven songs.”

As much as they’ve enjoyed the association, however, it hasn’t resulted in Hitchcock and Boyd actually working on music together.

“We’ve never discussed it,” Hitchcock says with a laugh. “I don’t know whether he and I would necessarily work as a producer-artist combination. He’s not that interested in recording what you would call pop-rock anymore, or folk-rock. I think he feels like that era has passed. But I’m still there — happily so — so it’s probably best to stick to what we’re doing now.”

Robyn Hitchcock and Joe Boyd perform “Live & Direct From 1967” at 7 and 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 18, as part of Friday Night Live at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave. The show is free with regular museum admission. Call 313-833-7900 or visit www.dia.org.

Web Site: www.dia.org

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