Roger McGuinn, pictured with one of his signature guitars, was lead singer for The Byrds. He plays a variety of songs from The Byrds as well as folk songs he has resurrected through his Folk Den project. Photo by John Chiasson.
When Hamburg resident Norman “Skip” Zintz started playing music as a kid in the 1960s, The Byrds and Roger McGuinn were a huge influence on him.
Now, the retired businessman will have a chance to talk music with his idol.
Zintz is bringing McGuinn, lead singer and lead guitarist of The Byrds, to the Hamburg Palace on Tuesday, April 16 at 7 p.m. For Zintz, it’s a dream come true, both personally and for his hometown.
“I have a bucket list and one of the things that I wanted to do was help the village,” he said. “I love the village. Anything I can do to help Hamburg.”
Zintz originally planned on bringing McGuinn to Hamburg for the 43 year reunion of his class at Hamburg High School last summer. Everything came down to the final contract, when Zintz noticed the dates were off.
“They sent me the contract, and it was listed for April 23,” he said. “It’s supposed to be July 23. Well, he only tours through June. He has plans for the summer and goes away, so that ended it right there.”
While disappointed, Zintz told McGuinn’s agent that if it was convenient for him to come to Western New York, he’d like to book McGuinn. Zintz received a call a few months later with the news that McGuinn was going to tour New York.
“Consequently, that’s how it all started,” he said. “It has taken me a year and a half to arrange this.”
By having the concert at the Palace, Zintz hopes to put Hamburg “on the map.”
“Come to Hamburg,” he said. “Avoid all of the parking hassles of the city. There’s free parking. Have dinner and go to the show. What a great way to bring people into the village.”
The Palace provides an intimate venue for the concert, as it only holds 600 people.
“There’s not a bad seat in the house,” Zintz said.
Zintz also has personal ties to the Palace. The man who built the Palace, George J. Biehler, is a distant relative, who Zintz called “Gramps Biehler.” His parents met in the projection booth, and Zintz spent most of his youth there.
“I had the run of the place,” he said. “It was so much a part of my childhood. I had a free pass. I lived in that theater.”
McGuinn, who plays a variety of songs by the Byrds and folk music at his shows, has continued to release music, most notably through the Internet and his Folk Den project. McGuinn started the website in 1995, and uses it to preserve folk music. Fans of the Byrds won’t be disappointed, Zintz said.
Several years ago, McGuinn’s guitar was stolen and ended up on ebay with his signature on it. Because of the experience, he won’t sign autographs, Zintz said. Fans looking to bring guitars and other items to have signed should leave them at home.
“He will not sign autographs,” he said. “However, he will have a table of CDs for sale that he signed.”
Assuming everything works out with the concert, Zintz would like to do more in the future.
“It’s great for Hamburg,” he said.
Tickets for the show are still available, and can be purchased at www.hamburgpalace.com
or by calling (814) 452-4857.