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What was Lee Hays really like...?

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Art Thieme 18 Aug 99 - 03:00 PM
Rick Fielding 18 Aug 99 - 03:55 PM
catspaw49 18 Aug 99 - 04:35 PM
fraharp@yahoo.com 18 Aug 99 - 05:15 PM
Sandy Paton 18 Aug 99 - 10:12 PM
Art Thieme 18 Aug 99 - 10:59 PM
Rick Fielding 19 Aug 99 - 01:22 AM
19 Aug 99 - 05:59 PM
Jeri 19 Aug 99 - 06:06 PM
Rick Fielding 19 Aug 99 - 06:16 PM
Art Thieme 20 Aug 99 - 01:05 AM
Sandy Paton 20 Aug 99 - 01:16 AM
Art Thieme 20 Aug 99 - 01:47 AM
Sandy Paton 20 Aug 99 - 02:42 AM
catspaw49 20 Aug 99 - 08:17 AM
Rick Fielding 20 Aug 99 - 10:54 AM
Art Thieme 20 Aug 99 - 11:44 AM
Peter T. 20 Aug 99 - 12:04 PM
Frank Hamilton 20 Aug 99 - 12:26 PM
catspaw49 20 Aug 99 - 12:27 PM
catspaw49 20 Aug 99 - 12:30 PM
Rick Fielding 20 Aug 99 - 01:15 PM
Sandy Paton 20 Aug 99 - 02:50 PM
catspaw49 20 Aug 99 - 03:26 PM
Frank Hamilton 20 Aug 99 - 05:35 PM
Frank Hamilton 20 Aug 99 - 05:47 PM
Frank Hamilton 20 Aug 99 - 06:01 PM
Frank Hamilton 20 Aug 99 - 06:15 PM
Art Thieme 20 Aug 99 - 06:25 PM
catspaw49 20 Aug 99 - 06:38 PM
Art Thieme 20 Aug 99 - 06:41 PM
bill mcgowan 20 Aug 99 - 07:10 PM
Mike Regenstreif 20 Aug 99 - 08:44 PM
Sandy Paton 21 Aug 99 - 12:56 AM
Frank Hamilton 21 Aug 99 - 12:25 PM
Rick Fielding 21 Aug 99 - 02:13 PM
Frank Hamilton 21 Aug 99 - 06:50 PM
Matthew B. 22 Aug 99 - 08:01 AM
Mike Regenstreif 22 Aug 99 - 09:26 AM
Frank Hamilton 22 Aug 99 - 11:35 AM
Frank Hamilton 22 Aug 99 - 01:04 PM
Sandy Paton 22 Aug 99 - 08:20 PM
Rick Fielding 22 Aug 99 - 09:42 PM
Mike Regenstreif 22 Aug 99 - 10:14 PM
Frank Hamilton 23 Aug 99 - 09:18 AM
Rick Fielding 23 Aug 99 - 12:08 PM
Frank Hamilton 23 Aug 99 - 12:32 PM
Frank Hamilton 23 Aug 99 - 12:43 PM
Frank Hamilton 23 Aug 99 - 01:13 PM
Art Thieme 23 Aug 99 - 01:19 PM
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Subject: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 18 Aug 99 - 03:00 PM

There's a grand biography of Lee Hays by Doris Willins called __Lonesome Traveler__(W.W.Norton & Company 1988), but it 'd be great to hear stories about the man from those who knew him. From afar, I sure learned a bunch of stories from him.

("This too shall pass. I've had kidney stones and I know!"----that was Lee on the Reagan administration)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 18 Aug 99 - 03:55 PM

Art, I've read that damn book so many times I could quote it by heart - fact is I often do. My God how lee Hays would have LOVED the Mudcat! Some people fantasize about naked women, but me, I fantasize about being in New York during the 40s and 50s!
Last year after coming back from a tour I drove to Croton on Hudson to see Lee Hays' last house. I tried to explain to Heather why this was terribly important to me, and if she doesn't always understand, she at least doesn't make fun of an aging adolescent's obsessions. We drove up the hill, and stopped. I got out and stared at the tiny house, and then took a picture. She stayed in the car 'cause she thinks it's rude to stare at people's houses. After we got back to Sandy and Caroline's I got the book out again. It was the WRONG DAMN HOUSE! Heather said it looked like it was a chicken coop - and it probably was!

I'll be back in New England in March and April next year and this time I'll get it right....alone!

Rick


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Aug 99 - 04:35 PM

Once again Rick has the right string but the wrong yo-yo.

I don't know of anyone with a love of folk (and folks) who wouldn't be captivated by Lee Hays. The stories and tales in the public domain are just wonderful and I too would love some additional "insider" stories. Additionally to the book was the PBS thing which was just great. I taped it and no matter how many times I watch it, I'm laughing and crying at the end. I too would have loved to have been around NY then and about 50 other times and places.........which is why so many of us value the Patons and Art and the rest.........living history, passing on the tales and songs and histories...the best of the folk tradition and folk process.........and that's happening here and now. Ya' know this ain't a bad time either......and this sure is a great place.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: fraharp@yahoo.com
Date: 18 Aug 99 - 05:15 PM

I was delighted to find something about Lee Hays.

It reminded me that several years ago, I came across a picture, of Lee Hays and my mother, taken in the south somewhere--Arkansas or North Carolina?--at some progressive camp,I think.

Having grown up listening and singing Weavers and Almanac Singers' songs, It's something I cherish.

By the way, does anyone know anything about a summer camp called Woodlands in Saugerties, NY? In the bio of Moe Asch, it mentions that John Cohen of the NLCR was a music counselor there. I went there as a young kid, but don't remember much.


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 18 Aug 99 - 10:12 PM

The photo of your mother with Lee Hayes may well be from the Commonwealth Labor School (or college) in Mena, Arkansas. Lee Hayes was active there at one time, pre-Weavers. My father was raised in Mena, but knew nothing about the school (alas!). That was where Haayes found old Emma Dusenberry and collected some of her songs, such as "The Dodger Song" ("We're all dodgin' out a way through the world!"). Sounds as though your mother was a good "rebel girl." Be proud. Sandy


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 18 Aug 99 - 10:59 PM

Rick,

Driving across this country can be a depressing thing goin' from gig to gig as fast as you can with blown gas pumps and radiator hoses & tires at 4:00 A.M. in the middle of the Mojave Desert trying to get to Needles (Why?) by breakfast. That's why I always programmed time into the trips and drove the 2-lane roads whenever it was practical. Paul Geremia wrote a fine song (one of many) called "Uncle Sam's Back Yard" on this very topic. But my camera was always with me and those slides are vivid memories of people and places like Okemah, Oklahoma experiences I've told here in another thread somewhere. Mr. Fielding, I'm sure you'll find Lee's house. And give him my best (if they know where his old compost pile was)!! What I could never find was Jim Bridger's grave in Kansas City. I walked all over that graveyard for about 2 hours. I still kick myself for not having done that for THREE hours. But Johnny Appleseed's grave in Indiana (Jonathan Chapman) was one I did find. I stood there and thought of Pete S.!

Art


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 19 Aug 99 - 01:22 AM

Art, do you ever wish that you'd been born twenty years earlier? (and of course not been any older today?) Sometimes I get so angry and frustrated at having wasted 20 years of my life playing in bars, hotels, Lake Ontario cruises, and the like. The people were fine I guess, but they just didn't KNOW how much I loved traditional styled music. For years I got away with sandwiching "C'est dans le moi du Mai" between "Don't Think Twice" and "Gotta Travel On". Or a Wade Hemsworth song between "Kansas City" and "Four Strong Winds". 'Course I sung a lot of Hank Williams and Hank Snow songs (which I still love) but I think without the ability to entertain and be funny (although near the end of the bar string, a lot of the humour had become very caustic) I would never have worked as much as I did. Never saved a dime though!

I just feel that if I'd started singing in the mid forties rather than the mid sixties, the oportunity to become a "folkie Juke box" would not have been there, and I'd have been forced to focus on what I really loved. (course I'd have had to get a job as well!) I would have loved to have been part of the American folk revival. (the Canadian folk revival was mostly led by Alan Mills and Charles Jordan, who were far to "corporate" for my tastes) I've met and gotten to know most of the key figures, but to have known them in their hey-day when their adrenalin was flowin' would have been my idea of heaven.
I truly think I would give a year of my life to have spent one evening in Huddie Ledbetter's apartment. (well maybe half a year)

Oy! didn't mean this to be maudlin. I've been damn lucky to have been able to scratch out a living with music, and meeting Sandy and Caroline turned my life and attitude a hundred and eighty degrees, to the point where the last few years have been very rewarding. (emotionally, if not financially) But I guess that's why I'd stand outside (what I thought was) Lee Hays' house, and get a huge grin on my face when you brought Frank Hamilton to visit. Now if Ed McCurdy would only drop by...

Rick (fucking nostalgic bore, tonight)


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From:
Date: 19 Aug 99 - 05:59 PM

Hi,

Lee was a complex guy. When he was at the top of his form he was one of the funniest humorists I ever had come across. When we were on the road with the Weavers in New England, Lee would look out of the car window and spot a historical marker. At the concert that night he would tell about historical markers. Historical marker, 900 feet ahead. You have just passed a historical marker. He could do twenty minutes on the subject and crack us all up.

Here's this guy who was an Arkansas preacher and emissary from Commonwealth Folk School taking all of his friends out to dinner on his Diner's Club Card. Usta' like to ride around in Cadillacs.

Lee was a mystery story writer free-lance. I never got to read his stuff, though.

He never liked to rehearse with the Weavers. Usta' drive Erik Darling crazy. Actually didn't bother me 'cause I didn't like to rehearse that much either.

Garrison Keillor reminds me of Lee in many ways. I always thought Garrison might be a combination of Lee and Major Bowes, from the Major Bowes Amateur Hour in the forties on radio. Garrison sings bass parts like Lee.

I think his bass singing parts were really unique. He was a great entertainer.

In concerts he usta' talk about "that town drunk, Ethan Allan who had too much and stormed Fort Ticonderoga." Lee knew his history and about the real people, not the white-washed grammar school history book stick figures.

Lee was a historian, story-teller extraordinaire, a comedian and folksinger all wrapped up into one big guy.

When we went on the road, he liked to sit in his hotel room in different cities and watch TV. Got a regional feel I guess.

He had his opinions about music and performance all right. He could be very outspoken and pulled no punches. Look out! He had this wry folk Mencken-type humor too.

He loved Cisco. Wrote some songs with him Lee wanted to be a hit songwriter. Some of his tunes really did well. "Seven Daffodils". Had a sister in North Carolina around Chapel Hill. Wrote some songs with her.

I better stop or you'll have to get the hook! 1963 was quite a year. Weavers on tour. Beatles came out on Capitol Records. Face of folk revival changed. Boom.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Jeri
Date: 19 Aug 99 - 06:06 PM

Frank, we fired the guy with the hook. Please feel free to keep going!


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 19 Aug 99 - 06:16 PM

Frank, that great reunion concert at Carnegie Hall with all of you there must have been very interesting. Do you have any thoughts about it? The last time I saw the Weavers, Bernie Krause was with them, and did a lovely guitar solo on the "theme from Black orpheus", which I then raced home and stole. The "Lee" bio implies that Bernie never really fit in, although I would surmise that by then they'd all just about had it. Do you know if he continued to play music, or got smart and got a job?

I used to play for a short time with the Canadian folk band "The Travellers". Their idea of rehearsal was: "listen to the records a couple of times...now lets sit down and tell stories"!

Rick


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 01:05 AM

Frank,

Would you know anything about the tapes Lee made of Cisco before the latter passed away? Just 2 friends talking and singing and telling stories for posterity---to make a permanent record of some things before Cisco wasn't able to do that any longer. I've asked that here in 2 separate threads, but nobody had any real answers. What with all the reissues by Rounder of all of Alan Lomax's field recorded material, it seems those tapes would be prime materials for this era. And I'm sure there would be a market for at least a small run of those on CD.

I know I'd love to hear 'em.

Art.

P.S.----You and Eric doing "San Francisco Bay Blues" at the reunion is a classic. How did that rendition/tune/arrangement happen. (Sure don't mean to snoop---but while you're here...)


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 01:16 AM

This may be a bit of thread creep, but H. L. Mitchell, a co-founder of the Southern Tenant Farmer's Union, wrote a fascinating book titled Mean Things Happening in This Land (my copy was published in Montclair, NJ, in 1979). He has some pretty negative things to say about the Commonwealth College and its founder. Still, it's a very interesting history of a tough struggle in a tough time. All of us who sing songs of that era can learn from it. I recommend it.

Sandy (always pushing books!)


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 01:47 AM

Sandy,

Pete Seeger sang the song "There Are Mean Things Happenin' In This Land" on his American Industrial Ballads LP on Folkways. A year after after John Kennedy was assassinated, I wrote this to that tune while in D.C. the summer of '64--Joe Hickerson's first year at the Library of Congress:

There are mean things happenin" in this land,
There are mean things happenin' in this land,
When the president gets shot down with his bodyguards standing 'round,
There are mean things happenin' in this land.

It was down in Dallas on that fateful day,
I thought I heard Mr. Kennedy say,
Yankee, Russian --- white or tan, hell, a man is just a man,
There are mean things happinin' in this land.

...you could hear the nation cry on the day the president died,
There are mean things happenin' in this land.

...You can hear the children moan -- no father coming home,
There are mean things happenin' in this land.

...His wife all covered with his blood in answer for her love,
There are mean things happenin' in this land.

Art


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 02:42 AM

Art:

Mitchell credits John L. Handcox, a "young black sharecropper, union organizer, and composer of folk songs of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union in 1935-37" with the song as Pete Seeger had it. It was from the song that Mitchell took his title, of course. Charles Seeger recorded Handcox for the Library of Congress, so there are recordings of him there.

I quote further: One day in 1935 John Handcox appeared at the office of the union in Memphis and said to me, "Mitch, I got a piece I want you to print in our paper" (The Sharecropper's Voice). Written with pencil on ruled tablet paper, it read:

     When a sharecropper dies
     he is buried in a box
     without any necktie,
     and without any sox.

John L. Handcox was born and reared on one of the big plantations in St. Francis County, Arkansas. He had about a fourth grade education. I encouraged him to write more poems and songs, and he began singing his songs at our union meetings. His best one -- "We're Gonna Roll the Union On" -- became very popular and is still being sung on picket lines, in union halls, and wherever workers strike to gain their rights.... Another of Handcox' songs was "Hungry, Hungry Are We."


As I say, it's quite a book. Mitchell may boast a bit about his own importance in the struggle, but I still recommend it.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 08:17 AM

Positively fantastic stuff. For whatever else I may be, I am honored, humbled, and overjoyed to be a part of this place......Don't stop now guys, I'm sure others are reading this and enjoying it as much as I. Thank you...

And Rick, maudlin's OK my friend, at least you stayed with what you loved and are respected, at least by me, for the doing. I don't have any regrets for my life, but there were so many other ways I could have gone during my "missing twenty years." (That "Number Nine Coal" thread put me in a serious funk)........But I'm grateful and happy to be wherever it is I'm at now.....and I'm lucky to have stumbled in here to the 'Cat to hear the tales of those heroes from the mouths of others that are now friends. No wisecracks here, just gratitude.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 10:54 AM

I second Art's request for the story behind "SanFrancisco Bay". Wonderful version. Totally different (and more interesting) chord structure than everyone else used. Still sing it that way myself. Last year a (not that young) young person came up to me and said "love that song man, give me your e-mail address and I'll send you Clapton's chords,..you haven't got it quite right'!!!!

Rick


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 11:44 AM

Sandy,

Thank you; great insights into a fine song. Do you realize that you've been blowing me away with that kind of insightful information ever since Chicago & Kroch's & Brentano book store---circa 1962---THIRTY-SEVEN @%$&*$%@#$^%(*% years ago? Even before that actually---a set you did at a 1959 Sunday afternoon hootenanny at the GATE OF HORN. Your Elektra LP was coming out and I was the only kid who ordered it in the one big record store in Evansville, Indiana---Bob Shadd's Music. I was working at my uncles skirt (female--not fenders) factory for the summer then. The record came into the store on the last possible day I could pick it up before heading to college for my first and only year there. It took 'em 8 weeks (our entire summer vacation) to get it in stock. I had checked in with them every day that summer to see if it had arrived. I lost 35 pounds that summer--trying to save money by not eating lunch and from running to that record store and back to work during my lunch hours.

Sorry to those of you who have expressed REAL dismay at my tendency to be the thread creep that I sometimes am. I assure you that I'll try to hold it to a minimum---but the memories keep flooding in and, like gas, they sometimes escape in inapropriate threads. I don't mean to stink up the place or ruin the intended mission of Mudcat. The BS threads often do get away from music and become rather outrageous. One guy's humor is the other gal's merde.

Rick,

If I say, "I feel your pain", am I opening myself to snide comments? Well, any picker on the road in our subculture has known that the choices made were not always practical in the minds of some close ones who "only want what's best for us"--or so they said too often. We did what we did out of love for the music and the freedom of the wonderful aspects of the lifestyle. (The downsides are all too obvious, to me at least, 58 years out.) As Joe Campbell said, "We followed our bliss!" I may not have total empathy--but I do understand a crapload of what you're feeling.

Art


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Peter T.
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 12:04 PM

It is an easy target, but still, I don't know about this "wish I could have been around" stuff. I have a friend who is in his 30s and dresses like a hippie and wishes he could have been 10 years older and at Woodstock. I tell him that the 60s were at least as full of fakers and assholes (actually probably more) than any other period. But his dream is ineradicable, and makes him ineffective: he is an activist haunted by the 60's, which will never come back, and so he is failing in the 90's. My feeling is that it is a bit like a belief in IBM -- everyone who is outside thinks it must be wonderful or full of geniuses -- and when you get in you discover that as usual there is a tiny fraction of titans, and the rest are the standard dreck. It is the same about history. What one wants is to be back in that period knowing what you know now, but that never happens outside of movies -- one would inevitably have grown up 10 or more years earlier in a different culture which had never heard of the things that the culture 10 years later had begun to hear about on the fringes, and so on, and one would have made a whole range of other silly, lazy choices.
I dream about being here now, and one day I may even make it. It hasn't happened yet, but one day, if I work at it enough.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 12:26 PM

Hi Rick,

Bernie became a record producer in L.A. He worked closely with Paul Beaver doing recordings of synthesizer music, avant garde stuff.

RE: Lee's concept of fitting in, I think it's safe to say that after Erik left, the rest of the Weavers never really thought that Bernie or I fit in. I was antsy to push the group toward more traditional folk music and they were into doing what they considered was the Weaver's sound. Lee wasn't sure that I got that. It wasn't that I didn't get it so much as I saw a new direction that would have taken the group more away from the early singer/songwriter and revivalist pop view and more toward traditional folk where my heart was. This of course was my perception. Ronnie understood this more than the others I think.

All this is reflected in the liner notes of the Vanguard CD's where the Weavers talk about that period.

It was really hard to follow in Pete's shoes. His influence in that group was so powerful. Still, Erik did change the sound and give the group a different character. Pete left because he wanted out of the pop folk thing. He needed to say different musical things. I had to leave because New York was a depressing place to live in those days. Also, a bad marriage. No place to raise kids. Besides, the Weavers were about ready after twenty odd years to hang it up anyhow. Freddie I think really wanted to be a record producer. Lee was just getting to ill to travel most of the time. He had really bad physical problems. Lee could be very difficult at times.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 12:27 PM

Actually Peter, I think it is the dream of almost any intelligent and creative person to wish to have been around at some other time. Earlier on at the top of this thread I said that I would love to have lived in 50 other times and places.........and I know you probably would feel the same. But you are certainly correct in saying that we are apt to forget the worst and remember the best, and I definitely agree with you on the sixties. I'm happy to be who I am and where I am and the fact that my life choices have brought me to this point overjoys me. But the problem is, of course, that life doesn't always allow us to pursue every direction we want to take and it is that knowledge which saddens me at times. And obviously I cannot live in those other times as Rick or I may wish, gut THAT is the true fun in listening to Sandy, Frank, Art, and others who were there. A little depressing perhaps, but any depression is greatly overshadowed by the vicarious thrill I get in hearing the tales. But like I also said, this ain't too bad a time either.

Spaw--who doesn't mean to imply that he's either creative or intelligent, just human.


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 12:30 PM

Great stuff Frank......

Spaw


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 01:15 PM

Frank, you're going to have to excuse us asking all these questions (at least I hope you will) but sometimes the "new guy on the block" can get bombarded a bit. 'specially a new guy who's seen as much as you have and doesn't appear to mind sharing some of it with us.
When I first met Sandy I just had to ask him what it was like being a Wobbly back in 1913. He didn't hit me, and I realised then and there that his sense of humour was as warped as mine. When he told me to check out the Mudcat he said "I've been looking for a community like this all my life" (it's in a thread somewhere) and after a year - I know what he meant.
If you hang around for a while you'll find some of the reverence replaced by 1999 questions and issues, and you may be exposed to "tipple, possum, Cletus, "Fair Alison", Combat boots, Radio Shacks in the wilderness, and a whole bunch more obscure references. They will ALL become clear in time. (although no more meaningful)
Please forgive me one more question however. Do you know if "Nonesuch" is on CD? You can only play a record so many thousand times!

Art. Thanks for the understanding. Jeez, after my outburst I'm expecting a bill from Dr. Mudcat, for psychiatric services rendered!

Rick


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 02:50 PM

Art: That was in 1960, the year number-two son was born. Add a couple of years to our friendship! Kroch's was really a crock, but it introduced me to some people who have remained important to me over all these years. Lee Haggerty, for instance, who made it possible for us to start Folk-Legacy in 1961, bought folk records from me at Kroch's. He's still with us, practically a part of our family.

I liked the OLD Gate of Horn much better than the fancy one they moved into. Frank can tell us all about it. He was the local "union musician of record" (satisfying the requirements of the Chicago local) for Ribback and Grossman when I sang there. Those nostalgic indulgences will surely please Rick, whose quest for information about the early folk-revival knows no bounds! We old farts are of some value, at least, to these whipper-snappers, if only as living artifacts.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 03:26 PM

Sandy, maybe you're more like factual art than an artifact. Art is more an "Artitale." All kidding aside, thanks again for being here.

And Frank, once again, Welcome to the 'Cat!!! Like Rick said, there's a lot of fun nonsense from some strange folks who like to entertain each other. I am appalled (well not really) at how many of those insanities Brother Fielding mentioned that came from some weird interplay between he and I. Fortunately, I can lay some off on Big Mick and a few others. Rick's strange...really. I met him.....he gave me seaweed. What can I say? (Rick--that one's about to start too.)

But Frank, sorry for another question here, but you were discussing musical emphasis by different members. What can you tell us about "group dynamics."---Sorry, hate the words, but I can't think of anything more succinct. Through the various "groupings" what/who did what? It is hard to phrase what I'm asking. Things like the direction and type of music which you mentioned....Hope you understand at least "sorta'" what I'm asking.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 05:35 PM

Rick,

Thanks for asking. As far as I know, Nonesuch hasn't made it to digital. Folkways/Smithsonian has the master and makes tapes out of it to sell.

Thanks for telling me about the references that I might not get.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 05:47 PM

Spaw, got it!

Lee was the one who was closest to the trad folk. He didn't want to be limited to that though. Freddie was more eclectic. He was a city guy like me. Erik brought a subtle swinging rhythm to the group. It was kind of a gospel sound. Erik digs the Golden Gate Quartet who epitomizes that kind of group swinging sound. Ronnie had a straight-ahead lovely voice. It sounded well trained to me but she has asked me recently what train I thought she was on. It may have just been a natural instrument. I know she was a trained musician though. That train she can't get off of. There was a lot of tension always with the Weavers as with any group that has something to say and do. Lots of agendas at cross purposes. That's kinda' what made it work.

We got a review in Canada likening us to the Budapest String Quartet, known for their internal arguments. The reviewer wondered how long it would take for this tension inthe group would blow us apart....something like that.

Oddly, though, with all this tension, there was a kind of consensus on what the group should sound like. There was a feeling of everybody contributing their thing and it being absorbed into a whole. There was no arranger. That wouldn't have worked. When I first came into the group I copied Pete's or Erik's parts but I soon changed them because that's what I do.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 06:01 PM

Yeah, Sandy,

The Old Gate was more colorful. Ribback tried to go upscale and it took a little out of the atmosphere. It sure was an easier place to play though. Do you remember the cavernous stage area outside the dressingroom? It was like Roman catacombs. You could see spiderwebs on the walls and it was cold as hell (wrong metaphor) in the winter. Originally the stage area was at the end of the long hall which was a long haul from the back rows. It didn't help when the alcohol level reached high on the noise meter. Try to do a Child Ballad when the boys in the back are whooping it up. Gibson got away with it but he knew how to handle the saloon crowd. Bob usta' call himself a "saloon singer". He was a helluva lot better than most in that genre though and I thought he was more than just that. I tell you what, a "folk music nightclub" is an oxymoron and if you don't beleive that you should have seen some of the moronic oxen that were in the crowd. But a lot of the people were there because they loved the music. They made the difference.

So later they moved the stage area to the middle of the oblong hall which worked a lot better. Sight lines were better and the back rows weren't so rowdy. Being the house musician was better education than I could have got in any music school.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 06:15 PM

Hi Art,

Don't know about the tapes. I know that they did write some songs. I believe that one of them was "A Satisfied Mind" but I'm not sure. Cisco, about that time, had developed a bad tumor in his stomach. It went without being checked and eventually lead to his demise. He went back to Eagle Rock, California (part of L.A.) where he was born and to leave us.

I would love to have heard those tapes too.

Erik and I go way back to Washington Square. I still talk to him on-line. He's just finishing up his CD. We always liked trad jazz style playing together. Always thought that if Erik wanted to go that way, he coulda'. His voice sounded like a trumpet to me. Musically, we were on the same wave. We usta' hang together in the Square and once tried to do a record for Kenny Goldstein but it didn't pan out. This is the milk run instead of the express for saying that Erik and I worked easilly together over the years and we sort of rehearsed because Erik's big on that. Although when we forgot the words in the second verse, it was spontaneous. I don't know how or why you rehearse something like that.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 06:25 PM

Frank,

I seem to remember you and Valucha doing "YERAKINA" together in Chicago before you & Ronnie did it with the Weavers. What a great arrangement & harmony singing. It was like the Bill & Earl Bolick brother team, the Blue Sky Boys, in that it was almost impossible to pick out who was singing the melody & who was doing harmony. Both were there of probably but sometimes I thought NOBODY was actually singing melody. But still, the melody was audible!! Some of the harmonies were chilling on "Yerakina". The last verse etc.---wow! (I doubt I'm spelling that right.)

And I've always said, when someone would ask me why I was always a solo performer, that that way nobody ever quit my group. But I never got any good at makin' music with others either.

Once or twice I mentioned in other threads that I was actually part of a group once---with Elvis, Patti Page, Rosemary Clooney & me. We called ourselves Presley, Page, Rosemary and Thieme.

The others all quit---and here I am.

Art


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 06:38 PM

Jesus Art, they get worse all the time...............

Spaw


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 06:41 PM

One more: I promise.

Was Jack Elliot's "912 Greens" accurate? What a fine piece that was (I always thought). I'd love to hear your take on that trip south. Was it you & Jack & Guy Carawan & Billy Faier? What a group that must've been. But maybe that wasn't you!? Billy Faier was the only one he mentiond the surname of in the song. Should've asked Jack, but never did.

Art


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: bill mcgowan
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 07:10 PM

i was in red bank, NJ and Pete Seeger came on the Clearwater and was on a small stage and said something like one of the best people who ever lived passed away last night and it was Lee Hays then he played a great version of "Hammer" I'm not that sentimental, but the hair stood up on the back of my neck during that song


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 20 Aug 99 - 08:44 PM

Art mentioned "912 Greens," Jack Elliott's short little song that he always does at the end of a long rambling story about a trip he took in 1953 with Frank Hamilton and Guy Carawan. There are three different recordings of the song, all with different stories from that trip. And every time I've heard Jack do it in person, it's been different again.

Art's mentioning of it reminds me of a Frank Hamilton story. Back in the '70s and '80s, I used to run the Golem, an 80-seat (we could jam in 100) folk club in Montreal that Jack used to play at. For at least some of that time, Frank's wife Mary worked at one of the airlines that allowed them to travel at little cost and they showed up at the club occasionally.

One night, Jack was on stage and Frank and Mary arrived after the set had started. They came in and sat down quietly. A bit later on, Jack does "912 Greens" and, of course, talks about Frank in his ramble without knowing he was in the house.

At that point, I let Jack know and we got both Frank and Jack up on the stage. Now that was a treat.

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 21 Aug 99 - 12:56 AM

I watched Bob Gibson work the crowd once when the stage at the old Gate of Horn was 'way down at one end of the room (it was a much friendlier place to perform when they moved it amidships). I was very impressed at the way the lighting person carefully followed Gibson's impassioned delivery of "Wayfarin' Stranger," with the lights dimming down in the quieter moments, then growing hot again as the intensity increased. Wonderful coordination! Later, when I was on the stage myself, I discovered that Bob had been controlling his own light level, working that rolling dimmer switch in the floor with his foot. I must confess that I was more than a little disillusioned. But that's show-business, baby!

Sandy


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 21 Aug 99 - 12:25 PM

Hi Art,

Thanks about Yerakina. I knew it through folk dance circles in L.A. but it was recalled to me when Ted Johnson and I visited the Athenian restaurant on Halsted and Harrison street and me Spyros Skouras who had just come in from Athens. He taught us some of the song. The cross harmonies are characteristic of Mexicano music as well. I sat in with the Greek bands a couple of times but I was a ringer and didn't fool anyone. One musician looked at me with raised eyebrows and said, "Are you Irish?" I think Irish musicians were into odd time signatures.

RE: 912 Greens, well, 912 Toulouse was where Billy Faier lived. It was quite a place. It was literally walled off from Toulouse Street. They had one jazz jam session there that lasted for a day and a half. I dropped off to sleep on the matted floor of the basement room where it was held and awoke 8 hours later to find the musicians still going at it. It was kinda' a predecessor of the hippie commune. "912 Greens" is at sometimes embroidered uoon but a lot of what Jack said happened. Can't speak for the Keroac stuff though. I never heard that and I never saw him in New Orleans. The stuff about the South Coast is true, though. Mike mentioned Mary and I catching Jack's set at the Golem (a wonderful place to play by the way..one of the great folk clubs in my view). After Jack told the story about his learning the tune from me, I got up and sang it.

Jack, Guy and I were the "Dusty Road Boys" when we played on some of those small southern radio stations. One of our first trips to Wheeling, WWVA we ran into Hugh Cherry about 1954 or so. He asked us if we had heard Bluegrass music. I had only heard Pete who brought back some Scruggs style banjo playing and introduced it to the New York folkie scene. Hugh let us sit in on the radio broadcast. It was the Stanley Brothers with Ralph Mayo and we were floored. Best damn music we'd heard in a long time but it was fresh out of the box, then! Lots of stories there.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 Aug 99 - 02:13 PM

Great story Frank. Carter Stanley used to introduce the band members as "brother Mayo", (he wasn't a brother of course) etc. It just sounded sooo country!
Rick


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 21 Aug 99 - 06:50 PM

Rick,

Mayo had a wonderful dry sound. And yet it was so fresh. Like a mountain stream. In my opinion, that was folk music. These guys could really play but they had no pretensions about it. Not a show-off in the lot. Ever since then I've loved Bluegrass. Although I've heard more recent bands which seem to have a different angle, more showy and away from that original spirit of "folk music with overdrive".

Sorry to digress from the topic. I think if Lee were around he would have gotten into the early spirit of Bluegrass music. Nothing against Newgrass or Bela (I admire that too) or any of the wonderful reapplications but it's a different experience for me to remember the early Stanley Brothers and how much a part of American folk music they are.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Matthew B.
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 08:01 AM

Wow! This conversation has taken my breath away. It's like one of those fantasy dinners where you get to invite three or four famous people from history of your choice, for an unbeatable dinner conversation. I've often thought I'd like to invite combinations like Shakespeare, Galileo, Mozart and Teddy Roosevelt. But the "dinner" I just sat in on by reading the above was easily on that par.

Anyway, back to the subject of Lee Hays. When Pete Seeger turned 75, Bill Moyers did a one-on-one special with him, at his house in upstate New York. After about a half hour of uninterrupted reminiscences about a list of people that would make your head spin, Bill asked Pete something like, out of all those people, is there anyone you really miss? (or whose memory really stands out, or had the most influence on you, or you had the most fun with, or something like that... and I should know, because I still have the video but I'm too lazy to go through it right now for the exact quotes). Anyway, Pete instantly came up with only one name: Lee Hays.


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 09:26 AM

I did a half-hour radio interview with Pete Seeger in April that was aired on Folk Roots/Folk Branches on the occasion of his 80th birthday in May.

During the interview, I said to Pete that I'd like to talk to him for a few minutes about his role in the Almanac Singers and the Weavers.

Pete's response was, "Well, I'd like to tell you about Lee Hays."

Pete gave Lee most of the credit for their songwriting collaborations. He also said that Lee was cantankerous, hard to get along with and a misunderstood genius.

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 11:35 AM

Yeah, Mike.

Lee had his "dark" side. It came with booze. He was loyal to his friends, though. Not sure I was considered one of them but he could be surprisingly intimate and honest. I consider this a virtue. He was usually nice to me except when tanked. He could be very difficult. I guess no more than Picasso or Miles Davis, though. Does it come with the territory? Don't know but don't want to think so. There was a lot that was left out of his book but maybe that's the way it should be. Somehow, to me, I like to know all about a person. Woody had his problems but somehow it made him more human when I could understand why and where he was coming from. I feel the same about Lee. I'll tell you this, Lee had a rough life.

He had a conscience though. When the Baby Sitters, on their record album, appropriated a song that was written by Marcia Berman in Los Angeles and whoever listed the song on the record as traditional screwed up, Lee was visibly upset. It was beyond his control and he turned red-faced and felt helpless. He hated that kind of thing.

Frank

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 01:04 PM

Sandy,

It took me a while to realize this but that show business entered as a component of the folk music revival. I saw Gibson as a showperson, basically, who found folk music as an entertainment vehicle. I didn't have a problem with this. I think that if I could have developed a show-biz approach to what I was doing at the time I might have also. But I never confused it with traditional folk music. So I guess I couldn't share your disillusionment about lighting switches. In my estimation, one of the greatest folk music showpersons in this century is Pete Seeger. Show biz doesn't always equate with dishonesty. As a fine actor interprets a part with honesty and often humility, the great showpeople sometimes do something like that. Some of them communicate with warmth to a sizeable audience and bring to their performance a meaning. This is IMHO a positive side of show business. Sometimes, if they are revivalists, it helps to create an audience for traditional folk music. I don't have to tell you. Maybe there wouldn't have been an awareness of Frank Profitt or Frank Warner if it hadn't been for the legal troubles of the Kingston Trio. (As usual, with my big mouth, I stir up more controversey.)

I think Lee thought something like this too. He had no problem with trying to "commercialize" his songwriting because he felt he was saying important things. He was also a great showman as many audiences remember.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 08:20 PM

I really agree with you, Frank. Whenever you put folk music on a commercial stage, the element of show business is unavoidable. I remember the producer of the huge Newport Festivals of the 60s observing that the trad folk were fine for the workshops, but when you have a stage and 15,000 people for an audience, "it's show business, baby!" No doubt he was right. Folk music lived for centuries in people's living rooms and kitchens, in their barns and in their fields while they were working. Sharp told about an informant who couldn't recall how a song went. The fellow said, "If I were out there with the plow, I'd think of it right away!" Of course there was also a more social music made for dancing and entertaining in juke joints and rural barns, or wherever there was room for such activity, but here I'm speaking primarily of the song/ballad tradition. Put it on a stage and something happens to it, a subtle and not unpleasant alteration based on function. That's why the newer crop of folklorists have begun to investigate the "functional" aspect of our music. A song sung to entertain an audience isn't apt to be sung in the same way it would be sung to put a child to sleep. Gibson knew what he was doing, and he did it damned well. My disillusionment was based on the discovery that so much of that impassioned delivery was cerebral. Sorry if "dishonesty" was implied by my reference to show biz. It's just a different ballgame with a different set of rules.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 09:42 PM

Sandy and Frank. Your discussion about the late Bob Gibson is fascinating, and it brings several thoughts and questions to my mind. When I was a teenager and first starting to read Sing-Out and Little Sandy Review, I remember Bob Gibson as being perceived somewhere in between Pete Seeger and the Kingston Trio in regards to the "commerciality" of his music, but still mentioned in pretty positive terms. In those days Sing-Out was my bible and if they tended to hold anyone in contempt, I probably figured they had good reasons for it. Josh White and Burl Ives were non-persons because of their "House co-operations", and many snide remarks were made about some of the "new folk", like the "New Christy Minstrels", Joe and Eddie, Bud and Travis, Judy Henske, The Brothers Four etc.
After a few years I realised that there was indeed a dividing line that sliced the "good folks" from the "commercial folks" and it didn't seem to have ANYTHING to do with musical ability. Or even presentation for that matter.
When I purchased my first Bob Gibson album I was amazed to find that he had Joe Puma, a JAZZ guitarist, backing him up with some of the most tasteless pyrotechnics I'd ever heard. Mr. Puma had not the slightest clue about the music, but played on SEVERAL Gibson albums. Oh and the drums.. I forgot. As well as the "brand new folksongs" written by Shel Silverstein, Gibson did some total rip-offs of trad material, and claimed copyright for songs like "Brandy Leave Me Alone", "Abbiyoyo"(!!) and "Oh Babe it Ain't No Lie". Surely Libba Cotten, if not Seeger and Marais, could have used a few royalty bucks.
I occasionaly listen to those old Gibson albums today, and they're fun. He had a nice high voice and probably could have found a way to throw a 1,6,2,5 chord pattern into the Lord's Prayer, but he's rarely ever mentioned in the same breath as the much-maligned "Trio" or Bob Dylan for his "folksong updating". In fact the first time I saw the name "Paul Campbell" as composer(s) of many traditional songs, I figured there might just be a hint of double standard at work here.

Bob was a close friend of Gordon Lightfoot's and I got a chance to meet him a couple of times in Toronto during the late 60s. I remember him as being super friendly and encouraging to neophyte folkies, and happy to play and sing along with us.
I sometimes wonder if that "line" I mentioned earlier was drawn with more attention to who was part of an "in crowd" rather than strictly on musical content or stage presentation.

As I mentioned in the "Don't Pick So Fast" thread, I'm probably seen as a bit of a "narrow focus" guy in Toronto, when it comes to the kind of music I love, and in something like bluegras, I'm pretty much of a traditionalist, so I do understand the "circle the wagons" approach at times. I just think that a lot of the time, when it comes to who's doing right by the music, we make our decisions on who we personally like and who we don't know.

Any feedback would be welcome.

Rick


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 10:14 PM

The first time I actually saw Bob Gibson perform was after his "comeback." It must have been in the late-'70s. Seeing Gibson on stage made me instantly understand exactly where Steve Goodman's stagecraft and performance style came from.

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 09:18 AM

Sandy, we are total agreement. Thank you for your insight regarding the "functional" role of folk music. I always thought that there was something that didn't quite add up for me about the Newport Festivals. I didn't attend the smaller workshops, though, which might have been more in keeping with the experience I had with folk music. I remember being at the wonderful Folklife festival in Washington D.C. on the mall where there was a small workshop with Nimrod Workman in an intimate setting. It was one of the greatest "concerts" of folk music I'd ever been to. He described his background, the making of his puncheon floor log cabin and the songs he learned as a little boy, many which were traditional. One of the most memorable for me was Horton Barker at the Old Town School. I believe that you and Gerry Armstrong had something to do with that. This being said, I am a fan of all kinds of music including popular and love the old great entertainers such as Al Jolson, Louis Armstrong,and enjoy the modern ones as well such as Whitney Houston. But as you say, it's a different animal than folk music.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 12:08 PM

I forgot to add a bit to my last post about the "commercial" thing, a note to Frank, if he's hangin' around. Do you have any thoughts or memories of making the "Nonesuch" album. It holds up so well today, and it's still a lot of fun to listen to.

Rick


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 12:32 PM

Thanks Rick,

It was done hastilly. Mostly a jam. Leo Kottke suggests it was a stimulus for his work although he thought it was "weird".

We purposely left all the rough edges in. Not much if any editing. I heard the version we did of Lord Randall done by a small jazz combo once. Somebody just lifted it and used the arrangement. Didn't get the names.

Pete called the tune he wrote "Singin' in the Country" and then changed it on subsequent recordings to "Livin' in the Country." I think there is another musical notable change as well. On "Livin'" he anticipates the low bass note off the beat which gives it an African feel.

When I was younger, I showed Pete a fingerpicking pattern. One in particular, he learned and wrote "Singin" with. I certainly don't claim to have helped him write "Singin'" though. That's his mighty creativty.

The pattern was 2 1 2 1 T T T T one and two and three and four

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 12:43 PM

Damn, Rick, I couldn't make the pattern come out right when typing to the thread reply. It was something like 1.pinch (thumb and middle finger ) 2. index 3. thumb 4. middle 5. thumb 6. index and 7. thumb. The first six are eighth notes and the last note is a quarter in four/four time. Strings are 1. first and sixth or fifth, 2. second, 3. third, 4. first 5. sixth or fifth 6. second 7. third. Probably clear as mud. It's hard to talk about music!

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 01:13 PM

Rick,

The early Sing Out! magazine was basically Irwin Silber as editor. He had a confrontational style which made for interesting reading IMO. Pete forgave Josh for his role in the HUAC procedings. Josh was threatened and persecuted and it wasn't easy for a black man in those days. Big Bill Broonzy was refused a passport for writing the "Black Brown and White Blues". Burl was another story however. He implicated a lot of people and they lost their jobs apparently.

The dividing line was one of Irwin's political views between those who were accepted as being on the left and those who had sold out to the establishment. It didn't have an awful lot to do with just music as you stated. This is one of the problems in the defining war about folk music. The political aspect of this kinda' muddies the waters about the music. It's still a problem today in the perceptions about folk music. I'm going through something like this now in a controversey with Studs Terkel in Chicago. I can send you articles about this if you are interested. My e is

Later there were furthur political exchanges between Irwin and Izzy Young. Izzy took exception to the politicizing of Sing Out! and the two had some interesting discussions. In today's Sing Out! it's a non issue.

The show biz types in the "commercial" end were seen as sell-outs mainly because they represented a business approach to music that could be defined as being "capitalistic". Hence show business becomes equated with capitalism and sell-outism. I think that this is a flawed concept. This is not to say that the music biz doesn't have it's share of greedy and crooked folks but it's not fair to generalize.

And then there's the other aspect of performers who copyrighted all the folk music they could get there hands on in the 60's. Milt Okun, Bob Gibson and others. Their reasoning was something like this. The record companies have to pay royalties to songwriting artists. If the song is registered in PD, the company pockets the money they would have paid to the artist. Why should they be allowed to do that? Let 'em pay the performer for the song since there are comparitively little performance rights monies available for the performers in the recording biz. Most of it goes to the songwriters.

Many people like Lomax copyrighted songs to protect them from being taken over by the pop folk stylists. The issue of morality regarding the copyrighting of PD material wasn't as clear in the early 60's. Besides, artists were automatically credited with PD songs they didn't write by the record companies who didn't recognize (or said that they didn't) PD material.

Geez. We've got enough for a couple of new threads here.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What was Lee Hays really like...?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 01:19 PM

TTTT
1212


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