Rod MacDonald featured in Concert Conversations April 17

Rod MacDonald

Staff Report

Rod MacDonald will be the featured artist at a special Concert Conversations event presented by Snapshotmusic at 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 17, at Emerson House, 420 N. Main St.

An American folk singer/songwriter, MacDonald was a big part of the 1980s folk revival in Greenwich Village clubs, performing at the Speakeasy, The Bottom Line, Folk City, and the Songwriter’s Exchange at the Cornelia Street Café for many years.

MacDonald co-founded the Greenwich Village Folk Festival. He is perhaps best known for his songwriting: his songs have been covered by Dave Van Ronk, Shawn Colvin, Four Bitchin’ Babes, Jonathan Edwards, Garnet Rogers and others.

A tenor with a clear voice and wide range, MacDonald is often cited for both his musicality and the content of his songs about political and social events.

According to The Press of Atlantic City: “Rod MacDonald is a brilliant folk singer and composer. His melodic songs possess words that go straight into your heart and soul. A poet with a lot on his mind who has never allowed himself to make points at the expense of making music.”

Although usually labeled a folk singer, his musical styles include rock, pop, country, light jazz and blues. He has appeared onstage with fellow artists, including Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow, Odetta, Tom Paxton, the Violent Femmes, Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, Dave Van Ronk, Emmylou Harris, Richie Havens, Ani DiFranco, Tom Chapin, Jack Hardy and David Massengill.

MacDonald began his musical education as a slide trombonist at 11, switching to guitar in his mid-teens as he learned the popular 1960s folk songs. He attended the University of Virginia, where he was managing editor of the student newspaper The Cavalier Daily and toured statewide with the five-piece folk group The Lovin’ Sound. Graduating in 1970 with a degree in history, he attended Columbia Law School and joined the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, U.S. Navy.

MacDonald worked summers as a reporter for the Hartford Courant, Newsweek in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., for whom he covered the Pentagon Papers trial.

In 1972, while at Officer’s Training School in Newport, R.I., MacDonald began working as a solo singer/guitarist at the waterfront bar, The Black Pearl, on a nightly basis. He was honorably discharged as a conscientious objector in August 1972. He graduated school in 1973 but did not take the bar exam, instead continuing his professional career in music.

After two decades in Greenwich Village, MacDonald moved to south Florida in 1995. Currently living in Delray Beach, Fla., with wife Nicole Hitz, of Chur, Switzerland, and daughters Ella and Alena, he remains active, touring in Florida, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the Pacific NW, New York and New England in 2011.

In a recent New York Times interview, Ani DiFranco lists Rod MacDonald as a major influence. As for Rockford? He has been performing on the Charlotte’s Web stage for almost four decades.

Admission is $10. Seating is limited to the first 80 people who arrive. Call (815) 964-2238 or visit

From the April 11-17, 2012, issue

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