Salisbury Press

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Noel Paul Stookey, above left, and Peter Yarrow, right, CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Noel Paul Stookey, above left, and Peter Yarrow, right, "Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Peter, Paul and Mary," 8 p.m. June 21, State Theatre for the Arts, Easton

Singing for Mary

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 by PAMELA McLEAN WALLACE Special to The Press in Focus

Noel Paul Stookey, Peter Yarrow celebrate 50 years of song in State Theatre concert

"I just flew in from San Francisco," says Noel Paul Stookey, "on my way into New York City to meet Peter [Yarrow]. We are going to do an interview with Tom Brokaw on 'JFK Remembered' - fifty years later.

"Can you believe it's been fifty years?" says Noel Paul Stookey, of the legendary folk singing trio, Peter, Paul and Mary.

Noel Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow perform their "Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Peter, Paul and Mary" tour, 8 p.m. June 21, State Theatre for the Arts, 453 Northampton St., Easton.

"We were supposed to give a concert that night, November 22, 1963, in Dallas. We got off the plane, a few hours after it happened.

"It was so surreal. We had performed at the 'Second Inaugural Salute to President Kennedy' in January of 1963 in Washington, D.C. The president was a genuine social guy, very curious.

"Needless to say, the [Dallas] concert was cancelled."

In the mid-1960's, Stookey became part of the folk music revival when the group Peter, Paul and Mary was formed. The union of Peter, Paul and Mary spanned almost five decades, winning the trio five Grammys and many humanitarian awards. They took a break for several years to pursue solo careers and reunited in 1979.

They continued touring and recording until 2009 when Mary Travers died from complications during treatment for leukemia.

"Since Mary's death, I have taken it a bit more slowly. I mean, I've been performing for over 50 years!"

Peter and Noel Paul have continued to perform as a duo, singing many of the group's classic hits, including "If I Had a Hammer," "Blowin' in the Wind," "Puff The Magic Dragon," "I Dig Rock & Roll Music" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane."

"When we perform together, we pretty much mutually come up with the set list, and then leave space for each of our solo parts," continues Stookey. His set will contain selections from his recently released CD, "One & Many."

When he is not performing with Yarrow, or by himself, he keeps busy with Music2Life (music2life.org), a non-profit he co-founded with his daughter, Elizabeth.

"Music2Life uses the power of music to create social change. I also work with Hugworks (hugworks. org), a program in Texas that uses music therapy to promote physical and mental healing of children who have gone through trauma of one kind or another, and One Light, Many Candles, with my wife [of 48 years], Betty, a multi-faith minister.

"We sing many of the Peter, Paul and Mary songs," Stookey says of the 50th anniversary tour. "We miss Mary terribly, but when we sing, we know she is with us. I can feel her presence, and then, of course, the audience fills in," Stookey says, laughing.