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Rock musician Henry Gross brings show to Evans

Posted: March 15, 2016 - 11:02pm  |  Updated: March 16, 2016 - 10:18am
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Henry Gross will perform his show, One Hit Wanderer, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center.  The show includes songs and anecdotes from his life in rock 'n' roll.
Henry Gross will perform his show, One Hit Wanderer, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center. The show includes songs and anecdotes from his life in rock 'n' roll.

Henry Gross hit it big in the 1970s, but he’s not stuck there.

And the show he’ll bring to the Jabez S. Hardin Perform­ing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 18, isn’t just about the good old hard-rocking days of Plug Me Into Something. It’s about him and his rock-n-life, of course, but he wants fans to know it’s also about them and their lives.

“I will tell you something you need to hear and it’s not about me,” he said. “Look past what I’m telling you and you’ll find beauty in your own life.”

The name of the show, One Hit Wanderer, is a reference to Shannon, his biggest hit, from his third album, Release, in 1976.

But over the past 30 years, he’s released 15 albums and says he is doing the best work of his life now.

“In the show I take a cardboard box, a ratty old cardboard box filled with memomemorabilia from my life,” he said. “The point of the show is that your hits are not on the radio. That’s like the cherry on the cake. The cake is that box of your memories.”

Every life has highs and lows, and the key is to be happy throughout, he said.

It’s reflected in one of the songs on the One Hit Wanderer CD, High Enough:

Been high enough to see over the mountain

Been high enough to fly above the rain

Been down so low, stole pennies from the fountain

Been high enough to toss ’em back again

“It’s not a celebration of hits and misses of Henry Gross. It’s a description of a positive way to continue your struggle and find joy in the things that have been given to you,” he said.

People often come up to him after the show and say, “Man, I’ve gotta get out my box,” he said.

One Hit Wanderer is written as a play and the songs advance the story as much as the anecdotes. A good bit of it is about Gross’ relationship with his father, a Brooklyn pharmacist with a “wicked sense of humor.”.

Gross, a co-founder of Sha Na Na, was the youngest performer at Woodstock, at 18 in 1969, but left the group within a year because he wanted to be more than a nostalgia act.

He opened for or played with big acts in the early ’70s, including the Allman Brothers and Beach Boys. As a studio musician, he played guitar on records by Jim Croce and Dion.

Two albums – Henry Gross (the yellow album) and Plug Me Into Something – cemented his stature as a rocker and nearly went gold. The third album, Release, yielded Shannon and Springtime Mama.

He performed in the road company production of the hit Broadway musical Pump Boys and Dinettes in 1981 with Jonathan Edwards (Sunshine) and Nicolette Larson (It’s Gonna Take A Lot of Love).

These days, Gross says, he’s reinventing himself again, this time as “sort of the Will Rogers of rock ’n’ roll.”

He has lived in Nashville, Tenn., for about 30 years – long enough for the author of Southern Band to declare himself “almost a Southerner.” He has been married for nearly 30 years to his second wife, Marilyn. His first wife, Kathy, died of lung cancer.

Shannon was Kathy’s dog. He still hears regularly from fans who find new meaning in Shannon as they suffer the loss of loved ones – canine and human.

Gross will be 65 on April 1 and doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

“Making music is a privilege,” he said. “I’m going till the wheels fall off.”

Tickets are $43 and can be bought online at augustaamusements.com or (706) 726-0366. Opening act is Augusta singer Donna Jo.

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