Singer of original and folk songs, Sylvia Tyson, of the legendary Ian and Sylvia, who’s been performing for well over 50 years now, comes to Woodstock’s Kleinert/James Center for the Arts with violinist Scarlet Rivera for a concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, September 24.
She’ll be singing a mix of her newer material and some of the Ian and Sylvia classics, like “Someday Soon” and “Four Strong Winds,” along with her own song, “You Were On My Mind,” which was a huge pop hit in 1965 by the band We Five. (Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin released the song this past June on their new recording.)
Scarlet Rivera is well known for her slashing violin throughout Bob Dylan’s 1975 classic album Desire, and subsequently, as part of the Rolling Thunder Review tour with Dylan.
“It was the greatest musical experience of my life. I keep the spirit of playing with Bob alive in me and always will,” she says.
The tour came about in its first incarnation after Tyson’s friend Jim Cowan, also Albert Lee’s manager, suggested she tour the U.S. “I had been touring mostly in Canada on my own,” says Tyson “and with my group of three other women, Quartette. Jim said that he had this idea for me to tour with Scarlet and Cindy Cashdollar. Last February we did a tour of California getting rave reviews. Cindy wasn’t available for this one. So I have a bass player who will be joining us, Randall Kemps. I have worked with him off and on for about 40 years.”
Tyson also published a novel in 2014, Joyner’s Dream, about which Globe and Mail reviewer T.F. Rigelhof, said, “[her characters] speak to us as individuals with small, fragmented stories to tell and, ultimately, as a chorus interweaving universal themes orchestrated by a master harmonizer…”
Tyson hasn’t been around here for quite a while. “The last time I was in Woodstock Albert Grossman was still alive.” But she has connections here. Banjoist and multi-instrumentalist Eric Weissberg toured with Ian and Sylvia, and the late John Herald played guitar on Ian and Sylvia’s first three Vanguard Records. “I remember John telling me once that we had ruined his life,” Sylvia laughs. “I said, what do you mean by that John? And he said well you send me your tunes like six months ahead of time so I get to work out these very intricate parts for them and go into the studio and play them. Then I get a call for a recording session from somebody who want me to play something like I played on an Ian and Sylvia record, right on the spot.”
Rivera, who recently performed with singer/songwriter Eric Andersen in California, also has local history. “The last time that I played Woodstock was after the Rolling Thunder Review in 1976. I came back with my own band. I was also a good friend of Rick Danko so I came up often and hung out with him and his harmonica player Sredni Vollmer. Rick was my favorite voice in The Band. I will definitely pay my respects to his spirit when I am there.”
Rivera has over 15 recordings of her own out, masters everything on her violin from Celtic to New Age and World Music.
On a fateful day, she met Bob Dylan by chance crossing 13th Street and 1st Avenue in New York, she says, “I really believe that it was a hand of destiny that put us together.” Perhaps that same hand of destiny has put Scarlet Rivera and Sylvia Tyson together.++
Sylvia Tyson and Scarlet Rivera will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, September 24 at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, 36 Tinker Street, Woodstock. Tickets are $25 ($23 for Byrdcliffe members) and can be purchased by phone at 845-679-2079 or online at www.woodstockguild.org/tysonrivera.html. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.