BLUE HILL — Rob McCall wears many hats: radio personality, folk musician, author. Most officially, McCall has served as the pastor of First Congregational Church of Blue Hill for nearly 30 years.
But at 70, Rev. McCall is stepping down from his clerical duties, finally moving up to the Eastport dwelling that he and his wife, Becky, have worked on for years.
So this Saturday evening, a number of local musicians are gathering at the “Congo Church” to send Rob and Becky off, while at the same time raising money for the Dolly Fisher Fund, a fuel assistance program run out of the spiritual center.
“Simply put, it’s just going to be a fabulous evening of music from an amazing group of musicians,” said organizer Lin Parker, pointing out that performers will range from “a sixth-grader performing all the way up to an octogenarian.”
Some of the peninsula’s big musical guns, like Grammy winners Noel Paul Stookey and Paul Sullivan, will be appearing. Other performers include Parker and his wife Anne, Jay Peterson, Bill Schubeck, Heidi Daub, Gerald Wheeler, Stu Davis and Ross Greenlaw.
The show will conclude, Parker said, with a performance by the guests of honor.
Their set isn’t likely to disappoint, according to Stookey, a Blue Hill resident and sometime parishioner at the Congo Church who played in the influential folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary.
Enumerating the minister’s musical talents, Stookey said, “He plays hammer and dulcimer, he plays fiddle, he plays guitar, and of course as a folkie who has often seen the capacity of music to inform, entertain, and inspire, I was totally in his camp.”
Stookey added, “and his wife ain’t bad either. Becky is very clever. A little cheekier than Rob. She writes pretty progressive, edgy folk tunes that comment on a multitude of subjects that range from impeachment of presidents to domestic abuse, and that’s a pretty wide scope for a preacher’s wife who’s supposed to be quiet and set up the card tables for Sunday afternoon picnic.”
The McCalls will be missed, Stookey explained. He pointed out that he doesn’t attend the Congo Church more often because he and his wife, Betty, a reverend herself, are busy running their own multifaith program known as One Light, Many Candles.
In addition to Rob’s artistic and musical talents, Stookey said, the pastor also has brought an “everyman approach” to his work as a leader and counselor.
“I’m guessing at his motivation, but Rob must have known that just letting people talk it out would resolve the issue,” Stookey said. “That’s a rare gift in this age of quick fixes, when everybody wants to be a Dr. Phil and be the superhero of resolution. Rob’s patience is one of his real attributes.”
One doesn’t need to be a churchgoer to appreciate the outgoing minister’s influence around the town and peninsula.
“I don’t pretend to be very religious, but I admire people who display his character and at the same time are religious,” said Blue Hill Selectman Jim Schatz, pointing to McCall’s advocacy for the Dolly Fisher Fund as part of a larger pattern of finding ways to help the needy.
In addition to his work on the pulpit, McCall also hosts a show called “Awanadjo Almanack” on the radio station WERU and writes a column of the same name for several area newspapers.
“Whether it’s talking about the mountains, right and wrong, good and bad, he’s one of those people who, regardless of your own feelings on those topics, finds ways of connecting with them, and making the whole community appear as one,” Schatz said.
“You hear about people being a treasure, like Arlo or Woody Guthrie, who are human treasures for the world or the community they live in,” the selectman added. “That’s how I would describe Rob McCall.”
The Dolly Fisher Benefit Concert to honor Becky and Rob McCall will run from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at First Congregational Church of Blue Hill. Proceeds will go to the Dolly Fisher Fund, which helps residents around the Blue Hill Peninsula heat their homes during winter.