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Giving a Byrd wings

While the revolutionary California folk-rock band the Byrds have influenced many, one of frontman Roger McGuinn's major influences has quietly called Decatur home for the past 20 years, playing private functions for kids and seniors.

Frank Hamilton was a member of the legendary folk band the Weavers and played with Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. He is also a founder of the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, and it was there, in 1957, that he taught McGuinn 12-string guitar and banjo.

"The Old School was the first to present [McGuinn] in concert," says Hamilton. "He sang 'Lost Jimmy Whelan.' It wasn't phenomenal. He was nervous and kind of shaky with it, but he did it and people liked it."

Hamilton later met up with McGuinn in California. He recalls McGuinn walking around the Troubadour in Hollywood playing Beatles songs on his 12-string Rickenbacker, and he remembers playing opposite McGuinn's Byrd-mate David Crosby the night McGuinn told him that the Byrds had signed with Columbia.

"It was [in] a little place which is now a laundromat in Westwood, California, called New Balladeer. John Kay of Steppenwolf was making hamburgers in the back."

While Hamilton has played on a couple of McGuinn's CDs, most recently the 2001 release Treasures From the Folk Den, do not expect to see him at McGuinn's show.

"I'm not a fan of rock music. I'd enjoy seeing him again, but it's not the kind of thing where I'm on the scene hanging out. I don't do that."

Roger McGuinn plays the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center Thurs., May 20. $25-$39. 7:30 p.m.