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Recovered Portland musician returns to the stage with local show

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Billy McLaughlin had to relearn to play the guitar after contracting focal dystonia in his right hand.After battling a disease that left his right hand crippled, Emmy Award-winning guitarist and composer Billy McLaughlin has reinvented himself and will return to a local stage for his first performance in the Portland area in more than 20 years.

He will reemerge into the musical spotlight on Saturday, July 12, at 7 p.m. at Backstage at Topaz in Hubbard.

He has called the performance a “homecoming” event.

McLaughlin was a rising star on the Billboard Charts in the 1990s, touring the nation and frequenting Portland area venues with his unique “finger-tapping” guitar style. At the peak of his career, he was diagnosed with focal dystonia in his right hand — a neuromuscular disorder that severely affected his ability to use his hand and has no cure or effective therapy. With his career and his life falling apart, McLaughlin abruptly disappeared from the stage.

But he didn’t give up.

Beginning in 2003, McLaughlin began relearning the guitar and will return to the stage as a left-handed guitarist. The upcoming performance will be his first in his hometown since he began performing again.

“The July 12 concert will be my first left-handed performance in the Portland area after a decade-plus metamorphosis some termed ‘miraculous,’” McLaughlin said. “It will be a personal triumph to be back onstage in a place that felt so much like home to me 20 years ago. If it gets super emotional for both me and the audience, I wouldn't be surprised.”

The performance in Hubbard will be preceded by a guitar workshop with McLaughlin. The workshop is $30 and open to any level of guitarists. Attendees should take their own guitars and tuners. Printed materials will be provided.

General admission tickets to the concert are $30. VIP backstage passes are available for $50 and include special seating, champagne, appetizers and a pre-show meet and greet with McLaughlin at 6 p.m.

For tickets or more information, call 503-902-0202 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday or 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

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