AUBURN – Nationally known singer/songwriter Bill Chinnock has been writing and playing music for legions of fans since the mid-1970s.

Fans in central Maine will have an opportunity to see this renowned performer Saturday, Feb. 12, when he plays two shows at the Midnight Blues Club.

Chinnock was one of the early founders of the famed Asbury Park, N.J., music scene. His early bands featured some talented members. When Chinnock moved to Maine, his former bandmates became the foundation for Bruce Springsteen’s famed E Street Band,

His first CD, titled “Blues,” was released in 1975, followed in 1976 by “Alive at the Loft.”

After touring to support those albums, he released “Badlands” in 1978, with the popular “Dime Store Heroes” hitting music shelves in 1980.

While most musicians can be identified with a particular genre, Chinnock has produced everything from rock ‘n’ roll to blues.

His vast musical talents as a roots-rock guitarist, keyboardist and singer/songwriter have earned him critical acclaim around the world. In 1987, he received an Emmy Award for Musical Direction and Composition for his song “Somewhere in the Night.”

In the early 1990s, Chinnock recorded a duet with soul singer Roberta Flack that was used as a theme song for the soap opera “Guiding Light.”

After taking a five-year hiatus from recording in the early 1980s, Chinnock released the album “Rock-n-Roll Cowboys” in 1985, followed by “Learning to Survive in the Modern Age” in 1987.

His music reflects the evolution and changes we all experience in life, hence the popularity and longevity of his work.

Chinnock’s most recent effort in the studio hit the shelves in early 2004: a CD titled “Livin’ in the Promised Land,” released on East Coast Records. The album features longtime bandmates Tony Smith on drums, John Kumnick on bass and Harry King on keyboards.

Known for well-written songs with a message, Chinnock takes his music very seriously. “I’ve tried to bring a literary sensibility to my songs,” he said in a recent telephone interview.

“I’d say I’m a little like John Hiatt and Bonnie Raitt. My style is deeply rooted in the blues, but I fit nicely into the rock ‘n’ roll scene as well. I consider myself a singer first and foremost, but I’m also very comfortable playing slide guitar, electric harmonica and keyboard.”

Now in his mid-50s, Chinnock is starting to tour again with the enthusiasm of a much younger musician.

“Realistically here in Maine, if you wait for your once-a-year shot to play at big venues like the Merrill Auditorium, the Unity Center for the Arts or the Chocolate Church in Bath, you won’t reach enough people. To really get out there and take your music to the public, you’ve got to play the smaller venues,” Chinnock said.

“Clubs like Midnight Blues in Auburn provide the perfect atmosphere to play directly to the audience, engage them in the show and talk about the music. It allows you to connect with people in a way you can’t match at bigger venues, and there is a great deal of value in that,” he added.

“I’ll be playing all of the old classics along with some songs from the new album,” Chinnock said. “I think to present a well-balanced show, it needs to include those timeless hits, as well as samples from the music I’m producing more recently. Fans will enjoy the mix.”

As musicians hit middle age and slow down, they begin to reflect on their careers and look back at the roads they’ve taken. And so it is for Chinnock, who does so with pride and fond memories.

The music industry has been very kind to me,” he said. “I’ve had a great run and I’m fortunate enough to still be making music and touring in good health. I just hope to continue playing music and that fans will come out to share the songs.”

The Midnight Blues Club will open at 5 p.m. for dinner and drinks; a ticket stub is good for $3 off any entree night of show.

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