Multi-genre roots singer Maria Muldaur returns to Rockland Friday, May 20 for a 7 p.m. show at the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St. She forts visited the city in 2007, packing the Time Out pub.

Muldaur once spent “Midnight at the Oasis,” but the weekend before her Maine gig she will perform at the Miri Jazz Festival on the Indonesian island or Borneo. That’s a from piece from New York City’s Greenwich Village, where she was born and raised surrounded by bluegrass, old-timey, jazz, blues and gospel music. Her very first musical influences, however, were recordings of country and western singers Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb. As a teen, Muldaur tuned into early R&B and was an avid fan of Fats Domino, Little Richard, Clyde McPhatter and Ruth Brown. She became interested in the girl groups coming onto the scene and formed her own, The Cashmeres, while in high school.

As pop radio became less soulful, Maria turned to the wealth of American roots music that was being rediscovered right in her own backyard. In the Village, she became involved with The Friends of Old Timey Music, a group of that traveled to the rural South to find legendary artists like Doc Watson, Bukka White, Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt, then bring them north to present them in concert to urban audiences. Aspiring young musicians John Sebastian, Bob Dylan, John Hammond, Jr. and Muldaur were both pursuing and creating a new wave in American roots music.

Deeply inspired by the pure mountain music of Doc Watson and the Watson Family, Muldaur left the intense New York scene and traveled to North Carolina to learn fiddle. During her extended visits with the Watson family, she soaked up Appalachian music and culture from the nightly gatherings on Doc’s back porch. After returning to New York from one of her Southern excursions, she was approached by Sebastian, David Grisman and several friends who had formed a jug band and were about to record for Spivey Records. In preparation for the recording, Muldaur and her bandmates pored through hundreds of old blues and jug band 78s. Among these vintage gems were recordings by Memphis Minnie, Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith.

When her bandmates went off to college, Maria migrated to Boston and joined the popular Jim Kweskin Jug Band. Her first recorded song with them was “I’m a Woman,” an anthem of feminine power and joyful sexuality that has been her theme song ever since. When the group disbanded in 1968, she and fellow bandmate Geoff Muldaur remained with Reprise, recording two acclaimed albums. They lived in Woodstock, N.Y., part of a new musical community that included Dylan, The Band, Paul Butterfield, Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band and many other notable artists.

When her marriage and musical partnership dissolved, Muldaur was offered Maria the opportunity to make her first solo album; the eponymous effort went platinum in two years and forever enshrined Maria in the minds of baby boomers the world over. “Midnight at the Oasis” remains to this day a staple song on multi-format radio. In the 1980s, Muldaur recorded two critically acclaimed jazz albums, two gospel albums and one album of swing tunes for “kids of all ages.” She also toured extensively with her band both in the States and abroad. Her frequent gigs with Dr. John led to a growing appreciation and fondness for the New Orleans sound. She incorporated that flavor into her own musical repertoire and dubbed this gumbo of straight ahead blues, R&B and Louisiana music, “bluesiana,” a genre she continues to explore.

Tickets are $23, available by calling the Strand at 594-0070 or visiting The concert is produced by North Atlantic Blues Festival’s Paul Benjamin.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to