Sunday, August 13, 2006

Within a year of receiving a bone marrow transplant to treat her leukemia, Mary Travers rejoined trio partners Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey at Wolf Trap in Vienna, on Saturday. Gone was Miss Travers’ trademark long, straight blond hair. She walked with a cane, used a stool to support herself on stage and showed a considerable amount of weight loss since Peter, Paul and Mary’s last appearance there in 2004.

A standing ovation greeted the trio as they made their way to center stage and burst into Bob Dylan’s “When the Ship Comes In,” their familiar harmonies electrifying the capacity crowd at the Filene Center.

“It has been a remarkable period of time, we have not seen you,” Mr. Yarrow said, breathlessly, when the song was finished. “Out of the challenge and fear that Mary’s recovery would not be what it was, and believe me the statistics were not … ” That was as far as he got before applause interrupted. When the ovation died down, he went on about Mary’s new, shorter and wavier hairstyle.

“As I listen to you pontificate,” Miss Travers said, ” I was thinking. You know we could have a new name for this group. We could call it Peter, Paul and Phoenix.”

By the time the trio was singing the chorus to its second selection, “The Garden Song,” the crowd was singing along. Miss Travers seemed to gather more energy as the concert went on, gesturing with her cane as she sang, “Have the courage of your convictions” during the civil-rights era song “Have You Been to Jail for Justice,” and using it as a prop telescope during “Puff the Magic Dragon” as the trio sang about Johnny Paper keeping watch “perched on Puff’s gigantic tail.”

Peter, Paul and Mary sang a 50-minute set, sprinkled with the protest songs that brought them to the forefront of the folk music revival and kept them on the pop charts in the 1960s and early ‘70s. Accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Paul Prestopino on banjo, mandolin, guitars and harmonica, and Dick Kniss on bass, the trio chugged through “The Times They are A-Changin,’” written by Bob Dylan, and led the audience in “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” by Pete Seeger and Joe Hickerson before closing the first set with Mr. Yarrow’s composition, “Light One Candle.” In the second set, each of the three artists performed solo for about 15 minutes, telling stories and singing songs.

Miss Travers used her segment to talk about her recovery.

“I am back,” she said. “Well, with a few small changes,” referring to her hair and weight loss. “It was an exciting experience, one I could have done without,” she added before singing Ewan MacColl’s song, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (dedicated to her husband, whom she said was instrumental in her recovery).

The trio reassembled, urging the mostly-over-50 audience to sing along with John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” They performed “The Kid,” by Buddy Mondlock, a more recently minted song, before dipping back into the old favorites song bag for “If I Had a Hammer,” by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger, and Mr. Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind.” They closed the show with and encore of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

As Miss Travers said, it was “a perfect night.”

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