Rod MacDonald

LLS Jupiter Distinguished Faculty Award 2012

Music Appreciation and Performance

Rod MacDonald began his career as a singer/songwriter in Greenwich Village, NY in 1973. He has 21 songs in the Smithsonian Folkways collection and has released 12 CDs of his own songs, including 2018’s “Beginning Again” and three CDs with the Palm Beach County band Big Brass Bed. He performs in festivals, clubs and concerts locally and throughout North America and Europe and was named “Best Local Acoustic Performer” in Broward and Palm Beach counties by the New Times and “one of the ten magnificent musicians of Palm Beach County” by the Palm Beach Post. An instructor with Osher LLI at Florida Atlantic University since 2006, his previous series include Music Americana, The Great American Songbook and The Roots of Rock and Roll.

Learn more about Rod at

The Fabulous '50s

The 1950s have long been dismissed as humdrum and stuck in the past. In reality, the decade of space travel, desegregated schools, Playboy, television and rock and roll was secretly paving the way for changes to come. While Elvis blended Hank Williams with Fats Domino, vocalists from Dino and Frank to Bobby Darin, Peggy Lee and Connie Francis sang the tunes. The Everly Brothers, The Platters and doo-wop groups filled the airwaves with gorgeous harmonies, while Broadway discovered the world with “My Fair Lady,” “The King And I” and “The Sound Of Music,” and Ray Charles and Sam Cooke sang the gospel of love. As the owners of radio (BMI) and song publishing (ASCAP) fought for control of the airwaves, Harry Belafonte and The Kingston Trio made folk music come alive again.

Join Rod MacDonald & The Humdingers for a fun and low-decibel tour through the songs, stories and artists of the 1950s.

Rod MacDonald & The Humdingers:
  • Rod MacDonald, guitar, has 11 CDs of his songs, including 2014’s “Later That Night,” as heard on WLRN’s Folk and Acoustic Music. He performs frequently in South Florida and throughout North America and Europe, and is a lifelong devotee of popular song. He has been an instructor with LLS since 2006.
  • Bill Meredith, drums, is the backbone of several Palm Beach County rock and roll bands, including Big Brass Bed and Illumination. He has toured throughout the U.S. and Canada, and appears on more than a dozen CDs.
  • Stan Silverman, piano, studied classical music and theory at the New England Conservatory of Music and the Philadelphia Music Academy, but is better known for his work with the jazz bands Hook and The Johnny Panks Band.
  • Doug Lindsey, bass and vocals, has been playing in South Florida bands for 30 years.
  • John Smotherman, lead guitar, plays with Big Brass Bed, Illumination and several Palm Beach County bands. His exquisite solos caused The Palm Beach Post to label him one of the “Ten Magnificent Musicians of Palm Beach County.”

Buy four tickets to any opening week event for $75 (LLS members only).
Register Early! There is a $5 charge for registering on the day of a one-time lecture or event.

Course # WPT2 — One Time Event
Place:Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
Dates:Tuesday, January 5 2016
Time:7 - 8:30 PM
Fee:$25 / member; $35 / non-member

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Music Americana: In Search of Greatness

Through sheer talent, pioneering a new direction or outselling all their rivals, a few artists are widely regarded as the foremost practitioners of their art. Their songs are legendary through the years, their styles are imitated, but never surpassed, and their triumphs and losses are the subject of intense media coverage. From the voices that lifted Sinatra above the pack and Elvis above the swivel-hipped rockers, to the heavenly sound of the Eagles; from the emotional connection of Edith Piaf and Aretha to the profound poetry of Joni Mitchell; from the Oscar-winning farces of Mel Brooks to the self-examinations of Sondheim, great artists inspire us in our time and set the gold standard for future generations of musical performers.

This course will examine the work, biographies and enduring importance of these musical artists, using updated videos and excerpts from feature films, live performances and a few surprises.
Eight Lectures
  1. The Golden Voice - Frank Sinatra, Frankie Laine
  2. The Art Of Confession - Edith Piaf, Joni Mitchell
  3. The Kings Of Rock & Pop - Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson
  4. The Queens Of Blues & Soul - Bessie Smith, Aretha Franklin, Beyonce
  5. The Jokers - Groucho Marx, Allen Sherman, Mel Brooks
  6. The Great Bands - The Rolling Stones, The Eagles
  7. Shoot Out The Lights Part 2 - Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sarah Brightman
  8. Still On Top - Willie Nelson, James Taylor

Course # W8T6 — Full 8 Weeks
Place:Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
Dates:Tuesdays, January 12, 26; February 2, 16, 23; March 1, 8, 15 2016
Time:3:45 - 5:15 PM
Fee:$68 / member; $98 / non-member

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A Festival Of Florida Folk

The state of Florida is home to many notable folk singers, representing a wide range of traditions and musical styles, from songwriters inspired by the natural world, the tradition of social commentary or everyday events, to acoustic guitarists exploring their instruments with profound new ideas, to singers teaching a new generation the history and wisdom of elders.

Appearing in festivals and clubs throughout Florida since the 1980s, Rod MacDonald has met the state’s finest folk performers, and has invited some of them for a festival. Come learn the history of our state in song, with
  • Sam Pacetti of St Augustine, FL, is one of America’s foremost fingestyle guitarists. A student of legendary Florida guitarist Gamble Rogers, he is as fluent in flamenco as in the style of Chet Atkins and records for the Chicago-based label Waterbug records.
  • Bob Patterson of St Augustine, FL, is a founder of the Gamble Rogers Festival in St Augustine and a beloved performer in that city’s music community. A longtime observer of “cracker culture,” he is the author of "Tales Of Florida," a reminiscence with some of our most colorful characters.
  • Mindy Simmons of Sarasota, FL, headlines festivals around the state, performing her original songs for adults and children, and is a sought-after vocalist for harmonies with other artists as well. She also performs “Peggy Lee: A Tribute.”
  • Ellen Bukstel of SW Ranches, FL, has won numerous national songwriting competitions for such songs as “By My Silence” and “Is It Hot In Here, Or Is It Me?” and has produced award-winning music videos for the Temple Of Miami and homeless advocacy groups.
  • Rod MacDonald of Delray Beach, FL, began his singing career in NYC’s Greenwich Village before moving to Florida in 1995. He was named an LLS Distinguished Faculty Member in 2012, and performs in Florida and throughout the U.S. and Europe. His C.D., “Later That Night,” was named Best 2014 Local Artist C.D. by the Palm Beach Post.
Register Early! There is a $5 charge for registering on the day of a one-time lecture or event.

Course # W1R1 — One Time Event
Place:Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
Dates:Thursday, January 21 2016
Time:7 - 8:30 PM
Fee:$25 / member; $35 / non-member

Register Now
 Last Modified 2/12/15