He has shared the bill with such luminaries as Jimi Hendrix, John Denver and Peter, Paul & Mary. And he experienced more of the psychedelic Sixties than most who grooved through such tie-dyed times.
But local singer Robin McNamara never got enough of the tunes that carried a generation through protests and promiscuity. And he was part of the music, scoring a Top 20 hit with the song “Lay a Little Lovin’ on Me.”
Granted, that was 1970, but the peace-and-love feeling surfaced much the same as the previous decade, as he recalls.
“Our main weapon of protest was the music,” said McNamara, 69.
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That soundtrack will be center-stage at the McNamara-inspired concert “Caught in the Sixties” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 and 15 at the Harlequin Theatre in FairOaks Mall, 2380 25th St. in Columbus. He and The Headliners Band of Columbus aim to present nearly 30 songs from the ’60s and also early ’70s.
The set list ranges from his hit to “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” from both The Supremes and Vanilla Fudge, to the classic “The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In),” from the rock musical “Hair.” McNamara knows that last number well because he played the lead of Claude in the Broadway production of the show from 1969 to 1971.
“We want this (concert) to feel like a time warp,” he said.
The vocalist and musician moved to Columbus two-and-a-half years ago with wife, Suzie McNamara, a city native. Someone who heard of his interest in classic pop-rock encouraged him to catch The Headliners at a local venue. He did.
“They were mind-blowing,” he said.
Soon enough, they began jamming together and then rehearsing.
Robin McNamara, who labels himself “a big, old hippie,” tried a few tunes with the band at The Garage Pub & Grill in Columbus back in the spring. They also performed together recently at The Pixie Theater in Edinburgh.
“I must tell you the audience response was wonderful,” Robin McNamara said. “These guys with The Headliners are masters of their craft.”
But he wants people to do more than simply rock and reminisce over the old hits. He has written three new tunes for the show. One, “We’re All Rock & Roll Singers,” laments an age of greed and misguided power. “Stuck in the ’60s” backspaces through the past with nods to Janis Joplin, John Lennon and Hendricks, among others.
McNamara remembers Hendrix well, especially at the Winter Festival for Peace at New York City’s Madison Square Garden in January 1970. Hendrix performed only two songs as part of a bill featuring an all-star pop-rock lineup before a sold-out crowd. Then, Robin McNamara and the cast of “Hair” had to follow the guitar genius’ antics.
“We had something like 22,000 people just rocking with us,” he said.
He understands he can’t exactly relive such once-in-a-lifetime glory days. He gets that he cannot quite do it all again. But he can find joy in the memories — and help others do some of the same.
“Look, at my age; I’m not looking for another hit and the big time,” he said. “I just want to be able to perform and to have a good time.”
What: The concert “Caught in the Sixties,” featuring nearly 30 songs from the 1960s and early 1970s.
Who: Columbus vocalist and musician Robin McNamara with The Headliners Band.
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14-15.
Where: The Harlequin Theatre in FairOaks Mall, 2380 25th St. in Columbus.
Tickets: $15 in advance at the theater, mall office or Viewpoint Books. $20 at the door.
Information: The Harlequin Theatre page on Facebook.