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Bongos in 1960s folk

Jack Campin 12 Dec 15 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,Bongo player 12 Dec 15 - 03:37 PM
Paul Burke 12 Dec 15 - 04:44 PM
Jack Campin 12 Dec 15 - 04:46 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 12 Dec 15 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,.gargouille 12 Dec 15 - 07:25 PM
Philbert Digby 12 Dec 15 - 08:02 PM
Sandra in Sydney 12 Dec 15 - 08:32 PM
GUEST,Phil 12 Dec 15 - 09:33 PM
MGM·Lion 13 Dec 15 - 01:10 AM
GUEST 13 Dec 15 - 06:17 AM
Rog Peek 13 Dec 15 - 08:30 AM
MartinRyan 13 Dec 15 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 13 Dec 15 - 08:51 PM
PHJim 13 Dec 15 - 10:07 PM
Richard Bridge 13 Dec 15 - 10:15 PM
Richard Bridge 13 Dec 15 - 10:18 PM
Joe Offer 14 Dec 15 - 02:06 AM
Jack Campin 14 Dec 15 - 08:27 AM
GUEST,Phil the Conch 15 Dec 15 - 08:59 PM
GUEST,Clive Pownceby 17 Dec 15 - 04:49 AM
GUEST,Blandiver (Astray) 17 Dec 15 - 07:23 AM
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Subject: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Dec 15 - 02:13 PM

Bongos were a 1960s thing I can't see much information about on the web. The Wikipedia article on bongos depicts them as entirely a Cuban instrument with minimal attention to their role elsewhere. As I remember them in the 60s and 70s, they went along with the folk stereotype (acoustic guitar, long hair, flowery shirt or crocheted dress) and had absolutely nothing to do with Cuban music (which was entirely unknown in the First World). So...

How did they get started as a young folkie's instrument?

Why did they go away? - did all their players take up beer and bodhrans?

Anybody out there admit to still playing them?


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: GUEST,Bongo player
Date: 12 Dec 15 - 03:37 PM

Bongos were a 1960s thing

That is the most inanely stupid comment that I've heard in ages...

Read some history, and get out a bit more.

Earlier? Obviously. Today? Many people still play them.


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: Paul Burke
Date: 12 Dec 15 - 04:44 PM

"Why did they go away? "

If I told you, I'd have to kill you, too.


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Dec 15 - 04:46 PM

Where are you?

I first met with them in NZ in the 60s. They were ubiquitous, and just as common in Australia, the US and the UK when I lived in those places in the 70s. But I don't think I've been in the same room as anybody playing them in the last 25 years. And I must have encountered a dozen nyckelharpa players in that time. They have fallen into extreme obscurity.

Who would play them along with a Bob Dylan song tbese days?


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 12 Dec 15 - 05:18 PM

whilst I'm no musicologist; I am old, and I remember the bongo drum craze, at least in California.

Bongos were part of many Latin orchestras of the '30s and '40s.
Bongos were often part of the Calypso period fad of the mid-1950s.
Bongos, being a very portable instrument also became part of the beach scene about this time.
Bongos were the instrument of emphasis in Beat coffee house poetry readings.
Bongos gravitated into the folk craze, primarily West indies calypso flavored songs of the 60s.

As the folk craze passed, and the Beat coffee houses passed, and the beach/surf movies passed the bongo drum fascination passed. It passed just as the ukekele fad of the 1940s passed, as the Alto Sax passed out of R&B. (When I was in high school it seemed like every guy wanted to wail on an ax.) This doesn't mean that no one plays any of those instruments any more, only that they no longer have widespread popularity.

Guest Bongo Player's response was mean spirited and uncalled for. He/she missed an opportunity to inform, but instead chose to be an ass.


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: GUEST,.gargouille
Date: 12 Dec 15 - 07:25 PM


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: Philbert Digby
Date: 12 Dec 15 - 08:02 PM

I have a bongo,it's not packed flat
It's round and it's small
You couldn't wear it as a hat
You'd only get mocked at
You'd only yell fool
My Bongo's just another musical tool.

Philbert


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 12 Dec 15 - 08:32 PM

scroll down to 8th picture to see 7 year old Megan (2nd generation musician) with her bongos. She is a very good percussion player, also a singer, one of the rising young stars of Australia's oldest folk club, the Bush Music Club.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: GUEST,Phil
Date: 12 Dec 15 - 09:33 PM

"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:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-9h1pjTP74

50-60's West Coast bongo was mostly surf music a la Preston Epps:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBZJlVeEVeI

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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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Dec 15 - 01:10 AM

Had place in 50s/60s pop &c as well as folk. Perhaps worth recalling apropos the late-50s musical & film Expresso Bongo by Wolf Mankowitz and with distinguished casts incl Cliff Richard, Millicent Martin, Paul Schofield, Laurence Harvey, et al

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expresso_Bongo

It was voted Best British Musical of the Year in a Variety annual survey of shows on the London stage, with a ballot result far ahead of My Fair Lady -- Wikipedia


≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Dec 15 - 06:17 AM

If you want a pair bongos (UK) get down to Lidl quick - last week's bargain at about £17,


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: Rog Peek
Date: 13 Dec 15 - 08:30 AM

My most enduring memory of bongos in the 60's is this: Yardbirds

Rog


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Dec 15 - 10:49 AM

For many years, Pepper's Bar in Feakle (East Clare in Ireland), a very popular spot for Irish Traditional Music, had a sign in the musicians' corner saying: "Only One Bodhrán per Session - and NO BONGOES!"!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 13 Dec 15 - 08:51 PM

There are a plethora of tones on a two headed bongo.

Like the bodaron the skin head can be tightened or dampened with an opposing hand.

The acoustic play is also varied the percussion point on various parts officiels the head...finger-tips, or finger or thumb aides....both stacotto or lumbratto. The "rest note" can give à profound emphasis.

Sincerelly,
Gargoyle

Like any instrument it is best appreciated when in the hands of a master.


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: PHJim
Date: 13 Dec 15 - 10:07 PM

I think of the bongos craze in the late forties and the fifties. Every beat hangout would have some guy with a beret, a goatie, dark glasses and a turtle neck bangin' away on the bongos.
Who can recall the TV show Johnny Staccato. Many of the dives he entered had these characters. Another was the weird Maynard G. Krebs.


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Dec 15 - 10:15 PM

I think they grew up and became djembes or dumbecs.


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Dec 15 - 10:18 PM

Or maybe it was steroids that made them do that.


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Dec 15 - 02:06 AM

I remember a time in the late 1960s when bongos were so common and often so poorly played, that they became an object of derision - and rightly so. In more recent years, they have regained their rightful place of respect, since they are no longer omnipresent.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Dec 15 - 08:27 AM

I wonder if the greater familiarity with Latin American music in the First World actually discouraged bongo playing? Once an Anglo folkie had seen a real Cuban dance band percussionist at work, they'd realize what there was to learn and give up.

The most impressive bongo player I've ever seen was an Indian who used tabla technique. He'd have made a Latin American pro envious.


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: GUEST,Phil the Conch
Date: 15 Dec 15 - 08:59 PM

Huh, Costanza (mainstream) and Epps (surf-rock) were both self-taught after a brief encounter with the 'real deal.' I'm trying to think of their Anglo-folkie opposite(s) and I got nothing. I think maybe that side of it was more pop fad amongst the fan base with the usual mass-media overexposure to go with.

Costanza is the only 'serious' musician that comes to mind. Orson Wells' "A Touch of Evil" with the Mancini-Costanza score is one of the great opening long-takes in cinema. He's still vivito y coleando at 96 too:

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/nov/14/jack-costanzo-dizzys-jazz-profile/


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: GUEST,Clive Pownceby
Date: 17 Dec 15 - 04:49 AM

Portable, acoustic, adaptable - what's NOT to like about them? Yes, I still do play 'em and my 1st mention in the press in 1965, whilst spelling my name incorrectly of course described me as 'vocals, maracas'- heh, heh what a mighty time!


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Subject: RE: Bongos in 1960s folk
From: GUEST,Blandiver (Astray)
Date: 17 Dec 15 - 07:23 AM

Once an Anglo folkie had seen a real Cuban dance band percussionist at work, they'd realize what there was to learn and give up.

Of course, they wouldn't have had to look very far:

West Side Story medley : Sammy Davis Jnr featuring Johnny Mendoza. BBC 1964


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