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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Phil Bongos in 1960s folk (22) RE: Bongos in 1960s folk 12 Dec 15

"Traditional(?) latin style bongo in the U.S. Goes back before WWII with Jack Costanzo and a few others. I think it already had a pretty good foothold in pop entertainment, theme music etc. before the folk bongo meme started (mostly) with 1950's "Jazz" or "Beat" poetry. From the wiki:

"Jack Kerouac would often have musical accompaniment for his poetry readings. His colleague, musician and composer David Amram, would often play the piano or bongos as Kerouac read. Amram later wrote of their work together:
We never once rehearsed. We did listen intently to one another. Jazz is all about listening and sharing. I never drowned out one word of whatever Jack was reading or making up on the spot. When I did my spontaneous scatting [...] he would play piano or bongos..."

The bongo/beatnik entered the pop mainstream in 1959 with Bob Denver's "Maynard G. Krebs" (The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, CBS-TV, 1959-63.)

Bongos and "classical" calypso would be a little weird. In Trinidad the "bongo" would be more familiar as a funeral rite/dance than a percussion instrument. The (bamboo)tambu and (steel)pan have ruled the roost for donkey years.

For "modern" calypso it was a bit of a jokey stereotype towards the end of the 1950-60 calypso craze but not really a working part of the orchestra or band. Trap set, conga, pan and/or goombay drums were the norm. "King of Calypso" Harry Belafonte's congueros were Louis "Sabu" Martinez and Ray "Mosquito" Romero, two of the best. (Costanzo was a Sinatra sideman.)

Belafonte's association with the bongo is best found in Stan Freberg's take:

50-60's West Coast bongo was mostly surf music a la Preston Epps:

1963's pop hit "Wipe Out" was done on standard kit but one can still feel the "bongo rock" vibe, as it were, (Surfaris, Princess 50, 1963.)

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