Livingston Taylor's welcoming songs and stories

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Entertainment,Music,Emily Cary

Livingston Taylor is the Peter Pan of the music circuit, spreading happy thoughts wherever he goes. He returns to the Barns at Wolf Trap for a spellbinding evening of his melodic tunes and a bottomless bag of anecdotes to liven the room.

"I think I'm by nature actively optimistic about life in general and the tenacity and capacity of life to bring hope," he said. "There was always music around as I was growing up and everyone in the family sang and played an instrument. Fantasies aside, however, we didn't gather around every evening and break out into five-part harmony."

The fourth of five musical siblings, among them singer-songwriter James Taylor, Livingston confesses to having been a less than remarkable student. That did not deter his success. Guitar in hand, buoyed by his innate optimism, he headed from high school to the coffee houses around Boston and soon was earning enough to support himself. There he met Jon Landau who produced his self-titled debut album in 1970 and the next two, "Liv" and "Over the Rainbow," in succeeding years.

Fourteen albums later, including two retrospectives, Taylor continues to enjoy a busy career turning out catchy songs and performing as a solo artist or touring with such contemporaries as Linda Ronstadt, Jimmy Buffett, Fleetwood Mac and Jethro Tull. His original songs are always the draw.

Onstage
Livingston Taylor
Where: The Barns at Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Road, Vienna
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Info: $25; 877-965-3872; wolftrap.org

"My better songs always start with a good melody," he said. "I fit in good lyrics by humming the melody over and over again until I come up with the right words. Then I add guitar chords and head for the recording studio where five or six great players add the secret ingredients to complete the arrangement.

"There's always a story behind every song, so when I'm on stage, I like to let the listeners know why I'm doing a particular number. Sometimes I plan ahead what I'll say about a song. Other times, something may occur to me that I think folks would like to know. If I select a song by a composer other than myself to perform, it must be a beautifully assembled piece of work that has stood the test of time."

"The energy of young students is inspiring and I enjoy performing with them. I'm bringing one of them, Chelsea Berry, to Wolf Trap. She's a fantastic singer-songwriter who performs folk-rock music and is working on her first album .The Barns at Wolf Trap is one of the best places to play, so I'm pleased to introduce the audience to her."

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