"Oh God, I can get so profound," said Tom Paxton last night at Wolf Trap. Paxton was reflecting on a song he had just finished singing, one inspired by the royal wedding. The chorus: "I didn't watch the wedding for they didn't come to mine."
Paxton's rib-tickling ditties about Abscam, Chrysler and the "bunny wunny" that attacked former president Carter highlighted the concert, which also featured Odetta, Richie Havens and Glenn Yarbrough.
In many ways the performance was a study in contrasting folk music temperaments and styles. Beyond Paxton's humorous broadsides and often touching ballads, there was Odetta's rich, luxuriant contralto to admire. Her voice was as pleasant to listen to on blues and spirituals as it was when, without accompaniment, it filled the pavilion with a gentle sway of the rather unlikely tune "Home on the Range."
Then there was Richie Haven's less lyrical but emphatic performance. He avoided some of his more ponderous lyrics, focusing rather on such '60s classics as "Just Like a Woman" and "Here Comes the Sun."
His peculiarly percussive guitar contrasted sharply with Glenn Yarbrough's satin smooth pop arrangements. Yarbrough's feather-light tenor was best served by slow ballads that effectively muted his nondescript six-piece band.