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On stage: a weekend with Larry Wilder posted on 04/01/2021

Larry Wilder, a northwest musician known for his entertaining performances of Americana, has played thousands of concerts, including opening for such luminaries as Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt and Pete Seeger, while also touring Europe three times and in Japan.

This past year has been a little different, although he has done concerts over Zoom while also performing outdoors on occasion, including at senior residences and for his neighbors.

“You can immediately see what it means to the people who are there,” Wilder said.

On the weekend of April 24-25, Wilder will return to the live stage at the Nutz-n-Boltz Theater Company in Boring.

Wilder offers fast-paced entertainment featuring guitar, banjo and vocals (he is a National Yodeling Champion) from across the entire spectrum of Americana, including folk songs, popular country tunes and even the unexpected, such as Irving Berlin or Cole Porter.

“I only do what they want to hear,” Wilder said of his audience. “I want the shows to be quick and engaging and interactive. I want them to remember me as being entertaining and that they felt good.”

Wilder, who counts Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie as some of his influences, has been performing for decades and noted that the most important part of his concerts is making his audience feel good.

“I think the longer I play, the more I can sense their feelings and what really works for them,” he said.

Wilder noted that his performance is a journey through Americana music, part of our musical heritage, and that multiple generations are enthusiastic about the songs. And even if few people remember bands such as the Kingston Trio today, the songs they sang still resonate with an audience.

“It’s the power of those songs,” Wilder said. “Whatever the enthusiasm and fun was then, I don’t think it changes much.”

Wilder’s performances weave songs together, such as “I’ve Been Everywhere” with “This Land Is Your Land” or the classic Cash tunes “Walk the Line” and “Ring of Fire,” while interspersing them with some jokes and narratives. He’s been known for playing two songs at the same time on a banjo, while also leading sing-alongs with the audience.

“If the folks want to participate, I encourage that,” Wilder said.

NNB presents Larry Wilder at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 24 and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 25 at the Boring Grange, 27861 Grange Street in Boring. The performances are a fundraiser and donations will be accepted at the door. Capacity for each performance will be limited to 50. For more information, or to make reservations, call 503-593-1295 or visit nnbtheater.com, and don’t forget to bring a mask.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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