You don't have to join the Navy to see the world. Just join Magpie, the local folk duo that will be appearing at the Birchmere Wednesday. "It's become a rare event to be playing locally anymore," says guitarist-concertina player Greg Artzner, who has been performing with dulcimer player Terry Leonino for the last dozen years. In recent months, Magpie has dipped down to Charleston, S.C., out to Stone City, Iowa, and up to Buffalo. April and May will find them in Kansas, Colorado and Canada, and in June they will be making their third tour of Scotland and England.
"We're traveling a lot," Artzner says, recalling that it was work that originally brought them from northern Ohio to the Washington area in the summer of 1974. "We were on our way to the coastal resort towns in New Jersey looking for a summer gig, but when we stopped here, we found a lot of clubs hiring acoustic music acts. And then in 1975, we did a tour of Mexico for Joe Glazer. When we came back with a good deal of money in our pockets and moved to the suburbs, we knew we were hooked."
Magpie's repertoire is imaginatively eclectic, ranging from ragtime, jazz and blues to gospel, early country and pop tunes. There used to be more material from the British Isles, but "when we go to England, we play almost all American stuff," Artzner says. "Since we've done those tours, we hardly do any of the Irish and English stuff here, though we still do some Scottish songs. Our repertoire is still growing, though, in jazz and country and a lot of originals. Our current focus has been writing our own songs, mostly topical. We have a couple poking serious fun at Ronald Reagan."