BAKER CITY — It’s been 50 years since Maria Muldaur recorded her hit song “Midnight at the Oasis.”
“Can you believe it? That’s quite a milestone,” Muldaur, 80, said in a telephone interview on Feb. 14, from her California home.
She’s performed that song countless times over the course of her career, and this spring she’ll sing it for an audience in Baker City.
She’ll perform live on Sunday, April 2, at Churchill School, 3451 Broadway St. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 6:45 p.m.
Tickets are $23 in advance at churchillbaker.com or $30 at the door. Children age 15 and younger have free admission with a paid adult.
“Don’t miss it — we’re not likely to come that way again any time soon. Be there or be square,” she said.
Muldaur grew up in Greenwich Village, where her aunt introduced her to “cowboy music” — despite her mom’s insistence on her only listening to classical music.
“At the age of 5, I was singing Hank Williams tunes,” she said.
A few years later, she discovered Elvis, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll.
She formed an a cappella girls doo-wop group in middle school — The Cameos — and then another in high school named The Cashmeres.
But her mom stopped her budding rock ‘n’ roll career.
Then Elvis joined the Army, and popular music turned to “teen pop.”
“I lost interest about that time,” Muldaur said.
But then the folk music scene emerged and she started hearing banjo, fiddle, bluegrass and Appalachian music — a style she describes as “American roots music.”
By the early 1960s she was a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band and her career as a musician was well on its way.
“This was all before I was 20 years old,” she said.
She played fiddle, tambourine “and a pretty mean kazoo.” She calls her style American roots.
“I’ve sort of been continuing that odyssey through American roots music,” she said.
She released her first solo album in 1973 featuring “Midnight at the Oasis,” which reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
She’s had six Grammy nominations, and four of those came in the last 20 years.
As for her mom’s wish for a career in classical music?
“When I was on the cover of Rolling Stone and had the first Grammy nomination, she gave up,” Muldaur said with a laugh.
Her Baker City show is the last of a 10-gig tour through the Pacific Northwest with her Red Hot Bluesiana Band. In the second half of 2023, she and her band will be presenting a “Way Past Midnight” multimedia retrospective to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Midnight at the Oasis.”
“I love singing and playing live music,” she said. “This is a dark world, and people need to be uplifted.”
She’s also getting started on her 44th album. The 43rd, released in 2021 and featuring the New Orleans band Tuba Skinny, was a collection of 1920s and ‘30s vintage jazz and blues music.
“They’re still relevant today, still resonate with people,” she said of the music from 100 years ago.
Although she’s played large venues — she opened for the Grateful Dead — she prefers smaller stages.
“The kind of music I like to play isn’t created to be performed in big football stadiums — it’s intimate music,” she said. “I like to see my audience, and see the expression on their faces.”
And, with about 5,000 performances behind her, she knows how to put on a show — ending with her three most popular songs.
“I have a knack for putting together a pretty good set list,” she said.
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