Dan Tappan photo
When Michael Manuals, after years of working as a fisherman, laborer, and carpenter, finally decided to pursue his love of music, he gave himself the stage name Michael Troy, in honor of his Fall River hometown (which was originally called Troy). So the folk singer, who died of cancer in 2015 at the age of 64, would no doubt be thrilled to hear that the concert being held in his honor this Sunday will also be a fund-raiser for the community he loved.
The concert, which is being held at the Narrows Center for the Arts from 1-4 p.m., will feature 14 musicians performing two songs each from Troy’s catalog and sharing their memories of him. All of the proceeds will go to the Michael Troy Memorial Music Foundation, which will donate them to the music department of Troy’s alma mater, B.M.C. Durfee High School.
Chuck Williams, a fellow folk singer Troy enlisted to be his booking agent and manager, is the foundation’s president. He remembers Troy telling him about seeing the Durfee High marching band at an event — and his disappointment at how small and underfunded the band appeared.
“He and I actually talked about having a benefit that would give contributions to the Durfee High School,” says Williams. “It was something that he always wanted to do.”
This is the second year the Narrows Center is hosting the Michael Troy memorial benefit; last year the foundation raised about $5,000, and members are optimistic that they can raise even more this year.
“We’re gonna sell out this year again, and next year, because the music is so good,” says Curt Handler, a good friend of Troy’s and a foundation board member.
The style Troy honed over four albums paired simple acoustic arrangements with poetic yet unpretentious accounts of working-class life in Fall River. Williams co-wrote some songs with Troy, and he was struck by the attention to detail that Troy brought to his craft.
“He chose every single word for a reason,” says Williams. “A word could change the meaning one way or another, and he wanted to make sure he had the best choices.”
According to Williams, Troy’s upstanding personality was every bit as noteworthy as his musical talent. Perhaps that’s why Fall River remembers him so fondly.
“The guy is just so likable. I say ‘is so likable’; far as I’m concerned, he’s still here. I’m still working for him,” says Williams. “He’s just a genuinely likable guy, a family guy, a hard-working, blue-collar guy that changed his life by moving into music, which is what his real love was, and made an impact. And as a foundation, we just want to keep that alive.”
THE MUSIC OF MICHAEL TROY
At Narrows Center for the Arts, 16 Anawan St., Fall River, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m.. Tickets $25, 508-324-1926, www.ticketfly.com
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