STOCKBRIDGE >> After more than 34 unimaginable years of near-deafness, Stu Nunnery has worked his way back to stage.
With the help of digital technology, the singer/songwriter will perform Saturday in the Lion's Den in Stockbridge — a place with special resonance for him.
The pub beneath the Red Lion Inn "was where I began my musical career in 1971. It was one of the highlights of my career as a young performer."
Nunnery, 66, of Providence, R.I,, will perform material from his acclaimed first album, as well as unreleased and new material from his catalog. The show begins at 4 p.m.
"I'm basically rebuilding my musical self through a combination of talent, technology and skill," he said of his comeback.
Four decades ago, Nunnery was an ascending star in the national music scene. He had two songs in the charts and his initial album had shot to No. 1 in Brazil. All was great.
But, "almost overnight," he recalled, the hearing in his right ear virtually disappeared in 1978. A year and a half later, he lost much of his hearing in his left ear.
The actual cause was neurological, Nunnery said. The medical term for it is bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. The cause, he said, could have been any number of factors including a virus, some kind of toxin introduced into his system or another factor that dampened his immune system. In Nunnery's case, the cause remains undetermined.
But the result was chilling: Nunnery couldn't hear himself sing, and he couldn't hear himself play music. In 1981, he retired from the music business.
"Music was the heart of who I was," he said.
The comeback was spurred, in large part, due to vast improvements in hearing aid technology over the past decade. Nunnery still has trouble hearing unaided, but improved high-tech digital hearing aids have enabled him to detect musical tones again and hear himself play and sing.
Nunnery still has trouble matching up his singing to the musical tones he produces on piano and harmonica.
His shows, he freely concedes, are still a workshop. Saturday's gig will be his third this year. But he has been pleased and gratified with the support from his fans, some of whom were fans from the 1970s.
"Voice is strong, piano is entertaining, segments of the performance work well," he said. "A step forward."