Donovan celebrates 50 years in music at Kirby Center
Donovan Leitch racked up plenty of honors over his career that indicate the power of his pop music, which listeners could describe as trippy, catchy, folky, poetic and transcendental all at once.
Among the Scottish- born singer/ songwriter/ guitarist’s credits are spots in the Rock& Roll Hall of Fame and the SongwritersHall of Fame, the MojoMaverickAward, the Ivor NovellaAward and LifeTime BBCFolkAward, not to mention his numerous Top 20 hit songs, including “Sunshine Superman” from the influential psychedelic albumof the same name and the follow- up, “MellowYellow.”
It was also widely reported that Donovan tutored the Beatles during a trip to India, where he taught John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison a finger- picking guitar style and his own unique chord patterns thatwould go on to live in infamy on numerous tracks on the Fab Four’s “White Album.”
OnSunday, Donovan brings his 50th Anniversary Celebration tour toWilkes- Barre for an intimate showatF. M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. He recently spoke withThe Times- Tribune by email about some of the events and inspirations that shaped his storied musical catalog fromthe last five decades.
Q: Your tour celebrates 50 years. Tell me about howit feels towatch your music endure through every fad, emerging style or major culture shift of the last half- century. Why do you think it has survived the tests of time and taste?
A: The human journey remains the same fromancient times to now. Mysongs are of the same human journey. The ways to distribute music, art, literature and films have newplatforms, but one thing never changes: the need for live music and the need of artists to create. Age has nothing to do with it, really; my songs are timeless.
Q: Is there a certain moment during a showyou strive for each time? When you knowyou’ve officially connected with your audience?
A: WhenIwalk onstage, it is a reconnection that happens. Not because they knowthe songs, moreso because the solo poet sings to the Inner Consciousness of the audience. Andwith the sounds of my mellifluous voice andmoving vibrations of the guitar, it harmonizes all of us and heals any imbalances, which iswhy I like to go out in concert, because I need this asmuch as my audience. This means the audience and I, we balance each other. It’s symbiotic. Andreally should be — the true effect of art on us all.
Q: Will you share some of your favorite moments, anecdotes or memories from the last 50 years?
A: 1968: Twenty- thousand people in Madison Square Garden, just back fromIndia, dressed inmy Ashram gear. I walk onstage solo, and awave of attention movesme like a strong wind, and I need to immediately sit cross- legged in case I fall over. I singmy softest song I know, “Isle of Islay.” Very rare NewYorker silence, and the audience are in awe. That night, I “broke the gate” at the Garden, earning more than any other solo artist in the Garden’s history ( at