"The first real spark was that fateful night in 1964 when the Beatles played Ed Sullivan Show," said Johann Helton, guitarist, upright bassist and former member of the world-famous folk group, The Highwaymen (not to be confused with the outlaw country supergroup of the same name featuring Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson).
Helton will perform tracks from his new two-disc solo acoustic album, Counting the Stars, Thursday, May 20, for free at the Ada Community Library. Before Helton linked up with The Highwaymen in 1991, they had previously soared to the top of the Billboard charts with the 1961 song "Michael." Helton's performance takes place as part of the Ada Community Library concert series, which began two years ago.
"As Boise's grown, there's more concert opportunities. When we started, there wasn't," said librarian Susana Ossandon. Helton, who was classically trained in Italy and Salzburg, taught at College of Idaho and Boise State. He performed with Luciano Pavarotti when he gave a concert with Boise Philharmonic.
"I'm kind of the go-to guitar player for the Boise Philharmonic," he said. "One of the things I noticed [about Pavarotti] was he was a very large man, not only in pounds but in stature." Helton promises no opera during his library concert but said he will perform a number for a recently deceased Highwayman, David Fisher. Helton is only member of the Highwaymen to continue with a music career.
"I've been one of the lucky ones because I haven't had to put my toys away yet," he laughed.
Thursday, May 20, 7 p.m., FREE, Ada Community Library, 10664 W. Victory Road, 208-362-0181, adalib.org.