Folk favorites Buskin & Batteau will appear at the Mainstay in Rock Hall, MD on Saturday July 14 at 8:00 p.m. Admission is $20. For information and reservations call 410-639-9133. Information is also available at the Mainstay’s website www.mainstayrockhall.org.
David Buskin and Robin Batteau have been winning hearts and minds with their poignant acoustic balladry and fun-filled performances for more years than they care to remember.
“We’re not from the Cambridge, came-over-on-the-Mayflower first wave of folkies [ Joan Baez, Tom Rush, Eric Von Schmidt ],” says Buskin, “but we’d like to think we’ve stolen many of their licks.”
The Washington Post called their work “an irresistible amalgam of melodic, sensual pop, folkie grit and killer wit.” And while their humor runs the gamut from topical irony (“Second Homeless”) to terminal silliness (“Jews Don’t Camp”), their combination of instrumental virtuosity on piano, guitar, violin and mandolin, their soaring vocal harmonies and their stylish writing that prompts the standing ovations and rhapsodic reviews: “The most musically sophisticated act in folk” –The New York Times; “Acoustic Heaven” – The Boston Globe. And with the help of uber-percussionist Marshal Rosenberg, they manage to kick the rhythm pretty hard for a couple of seasoned troubadours.
They were famous in the eighties as superstar jingle writers when long lasting campaigns like Robin Batteau’s “Heartbeat of America” for Chevrolet and David Buskin’s “All Aboard America” sung by Richie Havens for Amtrak brought their music to millions but their heart has always been in the music they have written and recorded together since the 1970s as a trio along with percussionist Marshal Rosenberg as well as the songs they’ve written for artists like Judy Collins, Tom Rush, Astrud Gilberto, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Peter, Paul and Mary and Bette Midler, the non-profits they’ve worked with like Paul Newman’s Hole-In-The-Wall Camps, Harry Chapin’s WhyHunger, Roger Payne’s Ocean Alliance among others; and hosting their quirky, unpredictable Radio B&B show on WPKN-FM in Connecticut and WPKN.org.
It is hard to pigeonhole Buskin & Batteau as folk or pop musicians. Musically they are head and shoulders above most of their contemporaries in those genres. Buskin is a brilliant pianist with classical mastery, but with his creativity takes him in unexpected directions. Batteau’s violin playing has the soul of a gypsy fiddler and his mandolin playing recalls that of a hot bluegrass picker. Both also play guitar. Their very able percussionist, Marshal Rosenberg, adds to the sound with a complicated rack of congas, chimes, bells, gourds and other unusual percussion instruments.
The operator of a Boston area venue recently said, “they made the audience very happy. Everything is intelligent. There’s no pandering….They’re smart and quick, and they talk to their audience like they’re adults. They’re really fun to be with.’’
The chemistry between the musicians also helps explain their lasting appeal. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Robin Batteau said, “We complement each other so well. Each of us has as much fun accompanying the other as we do singing our own songs.’’
They released their first CD in 10 years back in 2009, and then rerecorded many favorites from their nearly 30 year career in 2010’s “Nouveau Retro.” They are working on their next recording “Love Remembered, Love Forgot” which should be released later this year.
Their recent Mainstay performances have alternately had the audience in stitches and then mesmerized by the beauty of their words and music all leading up thunderous standing ovations at the end.
The Mainstay (Home of Musical Magic) is the friendly informal storefront performing arts center on Rock Hall’s old time Main Street. It is a 501(c)(3), non profit dedicated to the arts, serving Rock Hall, MD and the surrounding region. It is committed to presenting local, regional and national level talent, at a reasonable price, in an almost perfect acoustic setting. Wine, beer, sodas and snacks are available at the bar.
The Mainstay is supported by ticket sales, fundraising including donations from friends and audience members and an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council.
For information and reservations call the Mainstay at 410-639-9133. More information is also available at the Mainstay’s website www.mainstayrockhall.org.
Upcoming Mainstay performances include:
July 21 Rôles de Dame
July 28 Calico Jack
August 4 The Clarence Turner Blues Band
August 18 Cliff Jewell with “Sam Clemens and the Real Mark Twain”