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Lightfoot sings crowd favorites

May 14, 2001

Lightfoot sings crowd favorites



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

The last time Chuck Vargason saw Gordon Lightfoot in concert was 1972 in upstate New York.

Vargason, 46, of Sharpsburg, came to hear the folk music legend perform again at the Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown on Saturday.

Lightfoot's music seems to have stood the test of time. He played to an enthusiastic crowd that nearly filled the historic 1,300-seat theater.

"I just like the way he plays," Vargason said.

The audience was filled with diehard fans, many of them Baby Boomers, who acknowledged almost every song from the first few notes.

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Lightfoot walked on stage wearing a tropical flowered shirt and picked up one of two acoustic guitars he had with him.

"All right. We'll start and then we'll talk," he said.

Then came his distinctive singing voice. He opened with "Sea of Tranquility," a song he recorded in 1980.

"I like his country, folksy theme that he gives to the music. It's a very homespun feeling," said Tim Catherman, 42, a Hagerstown native who now lives in Richmond, Va.

Modern artists such as Jimmy Buffett have credited Lightfoot's influence, said Catherman, who owns all of his music on album and CD.

In addition to longtime fans, the 62-year-old Lightfoot attracted some people who only knew his most famous song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

"I'm supposed to find out what really happened to the Edmund Fitzgerald. It sank, I think," joked Tom Barratt, 59, of Myersville, Md.

Suzanne Henry of Hagerstown said she grew up with Lightfoot's music.

"It brings back a lot of memories," said Henry, who turns 49 today.

Lightfoot, who came to the Maryland Theatre five years ago, took care not to repeat too many songs and said early in the show that he would play three of his newest tunes.

He performed slow ballads like "Beautiful" and "All the Lovely Ladies" mixed with mellow tunes such as "Carefree Highway" and "Minstrel of the Dawn."

The audience laughed at the tongue-in-cheek "Heaven Don't Deserve Me" and softly sang along with popular favorite "Sundown."

Lightfoot's guitar player and bass player have been with him for 30 years, a testament to his graciousness, said Alex Bressler, 52, of Harrisburg, Pa.

Bressler has been a fan for just as long. In that time he's seen 19 concerts and had his guitar signed by the band.

"My wife thinks I'm crazy," he said.

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