Saturday, 26 February
8 pm, 165 McGraw Hall
Cornell Arts Quad
So says the song: “The Magpie brings us tidings of news both fair and foul; she’s more cunning than the raven, more wise than any owl.” In taking the name Magpie, Terry Leonino and Greg Artzner took up the challenge to be messengers of joy and sorrow, and they’ve been making strong music together since 1973.
Magpie is known for thrilling, fresh vocal harmonies, but they’re also fine instrumentalists: Terry plays harmonica, mandolin, fretted dulcimer, and rhythm guitar and Greg is an accomplished, versatile finger-style guitarist. Their transcendent arrangements can take the listener into deep realms of emotion. Terry and Greg can croon or growl their way through vintage jazz, country swing, and blues or lay down a sweet traditional folk song, or one of their own timeless compositions, such as their encounter with a magpie in a circle of ancient stones in Britain: the mysteries of continuity. They have easy-going rapport with each other and with their listeners. After a festival in the UK, reviewer Colin Irwin (Melody Maker) wrote: “When they yodel in harmony… well you can wave ta-ta to your heart.”
Greg and Terry are also known for their fiery topical songs. Their passions range from ecological issues to human rights; they understand and use the power of music to support environmental and social change, following in the steps of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, and leaders of the civil rights movement. Recently, they’ve created a folk opera about abolitionists John and Mary Brown and the Civil War. Working with the Smithsonian and Wolf Trap, they’ve dedicated many years to school music programs and teacher training, and have performed in support of many federal and nonprofit conservation organizations. Among other causes, they’ve championed the National Audubon Society’s puffin restoration project and, for a Smithsonian exhibit, have set to “rollicking” music the life cycle of the blue crab. They know how to leaven tough messages with humor and hope. Magpie frequently teams up, in performances and on recordings, with kindred spirits Kim and Reggie Harris.
Over the decades, they’ve produced eight outstanding recordings and have criss-crossed the U.S. and the globe to share their convictions by means of cleverly crafted, heartfelt music that becomes instantly familiar to audiences. Their songs have catchy tunes, memorable choruses, and lyrics that demand consideration. Terry and Greg have the rare ability to inspire children as well as adults. Tom Paxton declared, “I’ve just been listening to Circle of Life and want you to know it’s a great link in the chain. It’s also a challenge to those of us who aspire to putting out music with depth and relevance. Long may the Magpie fly!”
The Cornell Folk Song Society is proud to open its spring season with Magpie! Please make them welcome. Tickets: Ludgate Farms, Ithaca Guitar Works, GreenStar, Autumn Leaves Bookstore, Bound for Glory, and online at www.cornellfolksong.org/. $15 advance/$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens; children 12 & under free. Cornell students $10/$12. Info: 607-279-2027 or website.