Longtime musician Bob Jordan will return to his hometown of Grafton in a rare public appearance for a free gig with his band, Walkin’ Antiques, bringing their mix of Americana, old country, R&B and folk. -rock at Mill Villages Park.
Jordan and the Walkin’ Antiques — featuring Grafton’s Paul Prunier on drums, Brian Rost on bass, and Taylor “Chip” Smith on piano and fiddle — will kick off the show at 3 p.m. on August 6 at the park, located at 61 St. Hand. (Highway 122A), South Grafton. Supported by the cultural councils of Grafton, Upton, Shrewsbury and Northbridge, the concert will also feature Grafton resident ‘Banjo Joe’ Kuras performing a set of folk songs.
“I’m very excited about this,” said Jordan, who has been making music since the 1960s and has a repertoire of around 400 songs that he draws from for his performances. “When I do a concert, I try to make it unique. I have a band, but we don’t do the same show every time. I have to have it fresh for me.
This is the case of his next show. For the second set of this comeback gig, Jordan also brings in pedal guitarist Bob Metzger, who spent many years touring with famed musician Leonard Cohen.
“He’s such a great musician. He saw me at a concert and approached me,” Jordan said. “He’s so good that he made us all so much better in about three seconds. I wish everyone in the world could come and see this show because it’s so good.
Although Jordan has played a few solo gigs in his hometown at Reunion Tap & Table and MJ’s Market, Saturday’s gig marks his first public appearance in Grafton since returning to Massachusetts in December 2020. Grafton resident until 2014 , he decided to make a move that was both geographical and professional in New York. He released a solo CD, “The Goodbye Gift”, then returned to Worcester to perform, which he thought would be his last performance in the area.
“But circumstances — primarily COVID — forced me to move back to Massachusetts,” said Jordan, who now lives in Winchendon.
However, he added, “The whole COVID experience has been so transformative for me as a musician, I think most local musicians.”
With the onset of the pandemic and subsequent quarantines while living in Rochester, New York, Jordan found he needed to rethink the way he presented his music. Whether it was for a small crowd of 25 or a venue that wasn’t his usual, he just wanted to bring music to people.
“I played for 25 people; I played for retirement homes. I have become busier. I started to get creative,” he said. “I called all the retirement homes and organized an outside reception. At one place they carried me on a flatbed truck and people came out to their porches or opened their windows. Then they took me to the next village. It wasn’t so much that I had to do it – people really needed it.
Upon returning to Massachusetts in 2020, Jordan began calling area nursing homes and senior centers to host shows, and he continues to do so, even as COVID restrictions have eased in many. locations. In fact, these installations make up the bulk of his scheduled performances. “It makes such a difference for people to have music of any kind,” he said.
And, Jordan said, even though more than 75% of his current shows aren’t public performances, he’d much rather perform in those venues, even if it’s just for “35 people singing,” than bars. from his younger days. His sound has also evolved, he says. Early in his career, he sang more edgy, avant-garde songs in what he described as a “rock setting” of shouting and striving; now he prefers to focus on diction, choosing songs that have messages he wants to convey and letting people hear and understand the lyrics.
“These are people who are like me,” he said of those who attend his shows. “Their bodies may be causing them a little harm. Not their minds, not their ears. Give them music, they’ll give it back to you right away.
With COVID still heavy on his mind, Jordan came up with the idea to produce and perform at a tribute celebration when he moved to Winchendon from New York. Along with two other musicians and with funding from four local cultural councils, they performed ‘Celebration of Lives Lost’, a tribute to songwriters who died of COVID, on May 1 in Winchendon. The show not only gave him a chance to find new tunes to sing, but it was also a public memorial concert, with those in attendance submitting the names of their deceased loved ones. About 100 people attended the concert, which was also broadcast by WGAW.
“It was an amazing event. It was transformative,” Jordan said. “People really needed that. I think people still need that.
Besides singing and performing, Jordan has spent time doing just about anything musical. “I’ve had all these different experiences in the music world, more than just scratching and humming,” he said.
As an employee and volunteer, he worked for the non-profit organizations WCUV FM – including producing the station’s music shows from 1979 to 1987 – as well as the Worcester Artist Group, ArtsWorcester and Jazz Worcester at over the years. He worked at MacDuff’s Music Store, then later at Union Music, while also freelancing as a record and book salesman, and at one time was a booking agent, talent buyer and producer concerts and festivals. And for 14 years, until 2018, he was the presenter and conductor of the Bob Dylan Birthday Bash, an event held at various locations including Rotman’s, WCUW and John Henry’s Hammer Coffeehouse, and which still takes place to this day. . The Walkin’ Antiques is an outgrowth of his Dylan Birthday Bash band, the 524Band.
“Bob Dylan is kind of a shared language. Every folk singer knows at least one Bob Dylan song,” he said.
Ironically, Jordan said that although he had spent years earlier in his career producing shows and booking other bands, he felt it was difficult to promote his own music. These days, however, that has become easier, as a number of his performances are funded by local cultural councils, for which he must write grant applications and apply. Currently, he is pursuing a grant through the Worcester Arts Council that would allow him to re-release his entire recording career on Bandcamp and other streaming services. Although he has a YouTube channel with over 100 of his solo and group performances available for viewing, the majority of his work – nearly 1,500 recordings of his songs since 1968 – is not available in streaming format. and the CDs he has released are nearly sold out, he says.
In the meantime, with around 100 shows on his schedule since last year and for the remainder of 2022 at senior centers and homes, farmers’ markets and various other alternative music venues, Jordan remains committed to playing music, from Greenfield to Marlboro and Westboro. and all the rest. Because Winchendon borders New Hampshire, he often plays in the neighboring state, and he also travels to Rochester two to three times a year, with his next performances scheduled for this month. It is currently booked for December.
“It basically keeps me young. That’s what music does,” Jordan said. “The physical act of playing a gig – my pain goes away when I play.”