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Ron Rawhoof in Music on Main Nov. 14

November 13, 2013

Staff Report

Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center’s Music on Main … Classically Inspired November performance will feature local singer/songwriter Ron Rawhoof at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14, at the historic Emerson House, 420 N. Main St., Rockford.

Ron E. Rawhoof is an original singer/songwriter who grew to musical maturity in Rockford, a sprawling city with a storied industrial past, snug in the middle of three great Midwestern musical lights: Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison, Wis. His music radiates this geography, blending as it does elements of traditional folk, finger-style blues, and confessional narrative. Rawhoof’s songs bring into conversation the voices of traditional narrative folk — a line traceable from Dan Fogelberg, to James Taylor and Jackson Browne — and more contemporary improvisational folk artists such as Kelly Joe Phelps and Peter Mulvey.

Rawhoof incorporates into his song melodies signature licks out of New-Orleans jazz and traditional folk, adding a vocal delivery that manages to suggest the wizened throatiness of John Hiatt, and perhaps even Leonard Cohen, but keeps from straining those references with a gentle, self-aware quality reminiscent of Fogelberg and James Taylor. His songs — which one suspects could be, and perhaps shall one way or another be sung forever — tell unpretentious stories. They are at turns painfully sad, poignant, racy and funny, and sometimes bittersweet. Collectively, Rawhoof’s songs reach out to a range of moods found in any full human life; individually, his songs coax listeners inward, to places only they know to go.

Representative Rawhoof originals such as “Build my Boat,” “So Children Play” and “Auf Weidersehen” nominate themselves for consideration as American standards.

This performance will include: “Magda Holds Her Guitar,” a song based on a real-life character in a Norwegian book, For Love Of Norway; and “Too Much To Lose,” the title song on Rawhoof’s CD, which remained No. 1 for six consecutive months on Neil Young’s website, Living With War Songs.

Music on Main … Classically Inspired” is the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center’s series of brief and intimate after-work concerts. “Music on Main” performances take place on the second Thursday of the month, September to November and February to May. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Purchase tickets online, by phone or at the door of the concert. The doors open at 5 p.m., and seating at the Emerson House is limited to the first 100 guests.

From the Nov. 13-19, 2013, issue

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