The Missing Years combines music and comedy
WILLIAMSPORT — When the audience goes to the Improved Order of Red Men Conococheague Tribe 84 in Williamsport for a concert Saturday, July 21, they will get all that, Lynn Routzahn said, and a little bit more.
Routzahn is one half of the duo The Missing Years, which he described as something like the Smothers Brothers’ TV variety act of the 1960s.
“We involve the audience. We’ve got a good bit of banter with the audience and a good bit of banter between ourselves,” Routzahn said. “It’s great entertainment. People always say that we entertain them, that we don’t just play music at them. I’ve even heard people say that it’s very uplifting and positive.”
Routzahn, 62, of Martinsburg, W.Va., was born and raised in Boonsboro. The guitarist and singer said his early musical roots go back to when he was 5 or 6 years old and he would play the piano each week at Sunday school.
“I would just pick things out,” he said. “The Sunday school teacher told my mom she ought to give me piano lessons.”
Several years later, during February 1964, Routzahn saw English rock band The Beatles play on TV.
“Like 90 percent of other guitar players in the world, I saw that and said, ‘Mom, I want a guitar,” he said.
About six months later, for his 9th birthday, his wish came true. Routzahn remained active in music, starting his first band by the time he was in eighth grade and playing songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. At 15, he joined a country band called Country Cotton that played around Washington County.
He played for many years as a solo act, then as part of the band Squeezeplay, through which he met the other half of The Missing Years, 67-year-old bassist and singer Mike Jackson of Waynesboro, Pa. The two have been playing together as The Missing Years for about five years.
“We were calling ourselves Mike and Lynn and we said, ‘We ought to have a name,’” Routzahn said. “We came up with The Missing Years.”
The name was inspired by the song “Jesus the Missing Years” by American folksinger and songwriter John Prine.
“There was a span of Jesus’ life that nobody knew where he was. (Prine) wrote a song about it. A lot of songs we play are from the ’60s and the ’70s,” Routzahn said. “People say, ‘Wow. We haven’t heard that song in years. Man! Where have all the years gone?’”
The subtle comedic act evolved naturally between the two artists.
“To tell you the truth, we have never rehearsed. We are not really a dance type of music thing,” Routzahn said. “We are a lyric-based musical outfit. We like songs that are clever, with funny lyrics and good stories.”
One favorite the duo likes to perform is Antsy McClain’s “Smartphone.”
“The payoff line is that a smartphone can’t fix stupid,” he said.
Routzahn said Jackson is “an incredible” bassist who has been playing publicly since 1966, and who served on a number of USO tours entertaining U.S. Armed Forces and their families.
“Mike plays standup bass,” Routzahn said. “It’s not your regular bass. It’s very unusual. You picture those big doll box looking things, but his is like a stick. It’s like electric guitar almost but it’s played like a standup bass.”
With a blend of acoustic originals and covers of songs by artists including Gordon Lightfoot, America, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffett, and Pink Floyd, Routzahn said the two “both take the spotlight.”
“I’ve got more than 450 songs in my head and we don’t go by a set list. It’s just what I feel,” Routzahn said. ““We play what nobody else plays, and we play it like nobody else can play it.”
Top photo: Mike Jackson, left, of Waynesboro, Pa., and Lynn Routzahn of Martinsburg, W.Va., are The Missing Years.