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Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio

DigiTrad:
SCOTCH AND SODA
THEY'RE RIOTING IN AFRICA (THE MERRY MINUET)


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pdq 12 Feb 20 - 04:47 PM
EBarnacle 12 Feb 20 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 11 Feb 20 - 11:57 AM
GUEST,HiLo 11 Feb 20 - 09:35 AM
Joe Offer 10 Feb 20 - 10:07 PM
pdq 10 Feb 20 - 10:00 PM
Joe Offer 10 Feb 20 - 08:52 PM
PHJim 10 Feb 20 - 07:53 PM
Joe Offer 04 Feb 20 - 07:39 PM
leeneia 04 Feb 20 - 01:35 PM
Bonzo3legs 04 Feb 20 - 12:13 PM
PHJim 04 Feb 20 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,HiLo 04 Feb 20 - 09:35 AM
Tunesmith 04 Feb 20 - 06:03 AM
pdq 01 Feb 20 - 04:28 PM
GaryG 27 Jun 18 - 09:45 AM
The Sandman 26 Jun 18 - 01:56 PM
gillymor 25 Jun 18 - 09:14 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Jun 18 - 07:27 AM
leeneia 24 Jun 18 - 08:24 PM
pdq 24 Jun 18 - 05:52 AM
Joe Offer 24 Jun 18 - 12:30 AM
leeneia 23 Jun 18 - 09:28 PM
GUEST,Busker On A Budget 23 Jun 18 - 05:20 PM
keberoxu 23 Jun 18 - 12:34 PM
Vic Smith 23 Jun 18 - 11:20 AM
kendall 22 Jun 18 - 07:46 PM
GUEST,Ewan McVicar 22 Jun 18 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,BikeCrone 22 Jun 18 - 03:46 PM
Les from Hull 06 Sep 10 - 06:45 PM
Stringsinger 06 Sep 10 - 10:41 AM
olddude 06 Sep 10 - 10:30 AM
MikeL2 06 Sep 10 - 09:56 AM
Will Fly 06 Sep 10 - 04:37 AM
ChanteyLass 06 Sep 10 - 12:47 AM
GUEST,Jim Moran 05 Sep 10 - 03:58 PM
Slag 24 Aug 10 - 03:00 PM
Art Thieme 24 Aug 10 - 02:50 PM
Bettynh 24 Aug 10 - 12:37 PM
Leadfingers 24 Aug 10 - 12:27 PM
mousethief 24 Aug 10 - 12:04 PM
Bettynh 24 Aug 10 - 11:13 AM
Larry The Radio Guy 23 Aug 10 - 09:13 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 23 Aug 10 - 07:05 PM
Uncle_DaveO 23 Aug 10 - 05:49 PM
GUEST,Craig 23 Aug 10 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,Steve N. 27 Jul 01 - 01:26 PM
Rick Fielding 27 Jul 01 - 01:27 AM
RangerSteve 26 Jul 01 - 10:26 PM
Mark Clark 26 Jul 01 - 04:10 PM
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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: pdq
Date: 12 Feb 20 - 04:47 PM

Both Bernie Krause and Mudcats' own Frank Hamilton are former full members of the Weavers but not founding members.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: EBarnacle
Date: 12 Feb 20 - 03:36 PM

Although the Weavers are all deceased, I recommend The Work of the Weavers. The lead of the group was pretty much brought up around Pete and taught him. He follows well in the genre. Sorry, but I'm blocking on his name. His son performs with him, too.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 11 Feb 20 - 11:57 AM

Worth noting that the newer younger Kingston Trio,
while not the same individuals,
has some sort of authentic connection --
when Josh Reynolds, son of original member Nick Reynolds,
was in the group, there was a blood-relative connection.

Josh Reynolds has since left.
Of the three men currently known as the Kingston Trio,
one is a Hawaii native
and one was adopted by Nick Reynolds and raised with Josh Reynolds.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 11 Feb 20 - 09:35 AM

Also not mentioned, The Cumberland Three,John Stewarts original group. I felt that they were more talented than most of the others, except for The Limelighters. I don't think anyone mentioned The Chad Mitchell Trio, great political satire.
I do not think that anyone should tour under the name of any band if none of the original members are in it, it seems dishonest to me.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 10:07 PM

Thanks, pdq. I knew I had forgotten a few important groups. The Easy Riders were a high-quality group, led by the talent and intelligence of Terry Gilkyson, a legendary performer.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: pdq
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 10:00 PM

It looks like all founding members of the Brothers Four are still with us. One, in fact, is married to Loni Anderson.

The Highwaymen, not so lucky. Steve Butts and Steve Trott are still healthy. Trott went to Harvard, got law degree and was eventually appointed by Ronald Reagan to the infamous 9th Circuit of Appeals in California.

I really wish people would include both the Easy Riders and the Country Gentlemen in these discussions. The Easy Riders had a few of their songs covered by the Highwaymen and the Brothers Four. The Kingston Trio actually swiped a major portion of their early material from the Easy Riders.

The Gents, on the other hand, both sang and played circles around the competition.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 08:52 PM

Well, Wikipedia hasn't reported Alex Hassilev dead yet, but he retired from the group in 2006 and performs with the new members only occasionally. Lead tenor Glen Yarbrough left The Limeliters early on. Red Grammer and Rick Dougherty both held the tenor spot for a number of years, and I think I liked both of them more than I liked Yarbrough. Lou Gottlieb was the bass and "dirty old man" of the group. He was popular, but he made me feel uneasy. I was really impressed by Alex Hassilev, who seemed to be the brains of the group, and he was the longest-surviving member.

The original Brothers Four were Bob Flick, John Paine, Mike Kirkland, and Dick Foley, who met at the University of Washington, where they were members of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity in 1956 (hence the "Brothers" appellation). It appears that Bob Flick is still in the group.

The original members of the Kingston Trio were Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds, and Dave Guard. John Stewart replaced Dave Guard early on - all four are dead, but a new group of musicians licensed the name and trademark in 2017.

There's certainly a "business end" to all this - but I think the new iterations of the groups generally hire pretty good musicians.

I think my favorite of the "guy groups" of the 1950s-60s, was the Chad Mitchell Trio, who formed in 1959 when they were students and glee club members at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Mitchell left the group in 1965 and was replaced by Henry Deutschendorf, Jr., later known as John Denver. They did some very intelligent music, and lots of good political stuff.

Another "collegiate folk" group was The Highwaymen, best known for "Michael Row the Boat Ashore." This group sued the 1990 "supergroup" of the same name (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson), but they came to an amicable agreement and even performed on stage together.

I can think of one more of these "guy groups," The Journeymen, with John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, and Dick Weissman. Phillips went on to form The Mamas and the Papas, Scott McKenzie went on to be famous for "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)", and Dick Weissman was the one who went on to become a true journeyman musician.

"Collegiate folk" is probably a pretty good name for the music performed by these groups. When you listen to ALL of them, it gets to be a bit too much. I confess that I have followed these groups all my days, and I've liked their music. It's singable stuff and it's fun....but yeah, fairly commercial.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: PHJim
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 07:53 PM

Joe's post got me wondering. I don't know about the Brothers Four, but The Kingston Trio and The Limelighters are completely different groups now. None of the original members are in these groups, in fact, the last I heard Alex Hasselev was the only member of either group still living and he'd be in his mid-nineties if he's still alive. Are these really "The Kingston Trio" and "The Limelighters"?

Might we see The Weavers join this tour, even though none of the original members are still with us?


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 07:39 PM

The Kingston Trio, Limeliters, and the Brothers Four are now doing a concert tour together. see here: https://www.mayoarts.org/shows/the-kingston-trio

An acquaintance of mine, Daniel Boling, was recently selected to be a member of The Limeliters, and he has been enjoying the experience. Daniel is a good songwriter in his own right, and built his reputation singing his own songs. No, he's not traditional, but he does good stuff. He's a former park ranger with an interest in history and ecology. He'll do fine.

No doubt, Rick Fielding would have done well as a member of any of these acts.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: leeneia
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 01:35 PM

When I was junior-high age, my older brothers commandeered the radio and invariably tuned it to the top 40 station. I already had a classical bent (learned in church), and the top 40 station presented an irritating line-up of pop stars with nasal voices, gravelly voices, men trying to sing soprano, etc.

The Kingston Trio presented a welcome group of nice men singing pleasantly. Their selections had good tunes and were interesting. I still have the albums, and I still sing the tunes around the house.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 12:13 PM

I never liked them until the great Bill Zorn joined!!


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: PHJim
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 11:46 AM

I have been re-reading some bios and am now reading Joan Baez's book. She has much the same story as Rick Fielding wrote in the original post on this thread:

“Before I turned into a snob and learned to look down upon all commercial folk music as bastardized and unholy, I loved the Kingston Trio. When I became one of the leading practitioners of ‘pure folk,’ I still loved them.”


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 09:35 AM

John Stewart replaced, I believe, Dave Gard. Stewart was the best all round musician to have played in the KT. He was involved as singer and arranger for the now forgotten trio, The Cumberland Three, who Made Two Classic albums of Civil War songs. Stewart made a number of solo albums, one of which, "California Bloodlines, is an absolute treasure and contains the iconic song "Mother Country".


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Tunesmith
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 06:03 AM

Well, The Kingston Trio hardly caused a ripple in the UK mainly because British musicians covered their US hits. Think Lonnie Donegan. I have a soft spot for a lot of their recording; indeed, I would really love their Christmas album if it didn't have so much echo/reverb on it.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: pdq
Date: 01 Feb 20 - 04:28 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: GaryG
Date: 27 Jun 18 - 09:45 AM

Tom Dooley (Dula) had been sung for years in Johnson County TN and Ashe County NC. That is where Frank Proffitt was from and where Tom was arrested. Grayson and Whitter recorded it in the late 20s. G B Grayson, the fiddle player, was a nephew of the farmer who ratted Tom out.

I realize the KT were competent musically, but it was clearly folk music packaged for the masses. The song that opened my eyes was Greenback Dollar. I had heard it on the radio by the KT and then I saw Hoyt Axton do it. Hoyt's version was raw and real and I was on my way.

Check out Hoyt's version of Asheville Junction. It was on the Greenback Dollar album.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jun 18 - 01:56 PM

they popularised wher have all the flowers gone surely that was a good thing


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: gillymor
Date: 25 Jun 18 - 09:14 AM

They were definitely a gateway drug for me leading to Woody, Pete, Leadelly, the Carter Family etc. and on to folk and traditional music from all over. When I was a kid I remember my Dad singing "It Takes a Worried Man" whenever we'd do a project around the house.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Jun 18 - 07:27 AM

I loved the Kingston Trio as a kid, which was when they were in their heyday. Commercialized "folk" was the first thing I came into contact with in that genre, being a middle-class child growing up in a medium-sized California city. So the sanitized radio versions served as an introduction and led me to pursue it, buy records, check albums out of the library (a great way to explore) etc, and then try playing and singing it myself. Pretty soon I came into contact with the real thing, and never looked back.

Similar thing happened with Irish music - sentimental tenors and paddywhackin' shamrockery were all I heard on the airwaves, but I liked the bounce and lilt of the tunes and the cadences of the songs. This led me to search for purer forms, and eventually I found myself living in real Ireland, surrounded by musical riches. So it goes.

For these reasons, commercially popular artists like the Kingston Trio will always have a place in my heart.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: leeneia
Date: 24 Jun 18 - 08:24 PM

Thanks, pdq. It's a good song to sing when you feel sad.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: pdq
Date: 24 Jun 18 - 05:52 AM

"It's only been a year or so, but it seems so long ago.
I packed up my bag and left my home."


It's called "The Wanderer" and is from "Here We Go Again".


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jun 18 - 12:30 AM

I really liked the Kingston Trio during my teenage years. They added machismo to folk music - and for me as a teenage boy, that was pretty good.
I went to one of their concerts about 15 years ago, and they seemed like a bunch of old farts telling dirty jokes. Bob Shane was the only one left from the original group.

It was disappointing.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: leeneia
Date: 23 Jun 18 - 09:28 PM

I was a Kingston Trio fan. Their music was such a welcome change from singers on the Top 40 station. Those singers whined, croaked or whinged, but the Trio sang in tune, sang like men, and blended together. And each album offered variety.

I still sing Kingston Trio songs in the car or around the house:

Buddy Better Get on Down the Line
Darlin Corey
Who's Gonna Hold Her Hand?
Colorado Trail
Tell Old Bill

There was a blues song that Nick Reynolds sang which I still sing today. I don't know the title of it, but it begins like this:

It's only been a year or so, but it seems so long ago.
I packed up my bag and left my home.
Been from Fresno to Maine,
even worked a boat in Spain.
I ain't ever had a bed to call my own.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: GUEST,Busker On A Budget
Date: 23 Jun 18 - 05:20 PM

I'd first heard the KT from my father's record collection - PP&M, KT, Chad Mitchell Trio, etc.

To his credit, he also had the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

I can still say I'd rather listen to almost any of those records than the vast majority of what is manufactured for commercial radio, or has been for 40 years or so.

At least most of what they were singing was nominally tradition-oriented.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: keberoxu
Date: 23 Jun 18 - 12:34 PM

The Kingston Trio figured in the record collections of my parents,
who went to university in the 1950's.
The album I particularly recall is
"The Kingston Trio Sold Out,"
which today is quite the double entendre;
that nuance was lost on me as a small child.

The cover shows a big old concert poster for the KT,
the words Sold Out have been stamped on the poster,
the poster is plastered on a brick wall,
and in front of the brick wall is a ladder
on which a handywoman in cropped trousers is gazing dreamily
at the poster, as though she has a crush
on the three strapping young men photographed there. Ick.

What REALLY made my ears perk up, listening to the album,
were the two songs from TONGA, of all places.
These are sung with guitar, acoustic double-bass, and bongo drum.
And the fellows belt out that Tongan/Polynesian language,
sounding hilariously North American Macho about the whole thing.
Those performances are hard-wired into my brain,
if only because they made me laugh.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Vic Smith
Date: 23 Jun 18 - 11:20 AM

More than 100 posts in this thread about the Kingston Trio and many mentions for their great hit, "Tom Dooley" but, very surprisingly, only one mention of the man they learned the song from, the great song collector, Frank Warner, and shockingly no mention at all for Frank Proffitt who was person that Warner collected it from. And yet, to these ears, Frank Proffitt's version has everything that the smoothly saccharine treatment that the Kingston's take lacks - involvement with the ballad, authenticity and commitment and many other qualities.

I used to be involved in the technical and presentation side of the multi-media show that Frank Warner's son Jeff used to present all over the UK. In this show, From the Mountains to the Sea, Jeff related some stories that his father had told him about Frank Proffitt showing his droll delivery with a deadpan face. Here's my favourite:-
Warner took Proffitt to one of the early Newport Folk Festivals. The mountain man had heard very few singers outside his own community and he was fascinated by what he heard. One of the things that really caught his attention was the 100mph banjo-picking of Earl Scruggs.
"I wish I could play the banjer as fast as that...." said one Frank to the other, "and then not do so!"


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: kendall
Date: 22 Jun 18 - 07:46 PM

I liked the KT when they first came out, but I never thought of them as my kind of folk music. I still have some of their records, and on rare urges I play them. They are no better than they were then, but at least they dragged up something to take me away from Beryl Ives, and some of the noise that passes for folk music now.

Have you heard Larry Kaplan? his new cd is titled "True enough". This artist is the essence of a folk singer.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 22 Jun 18 - 05:46 PM

I heard the KT after I had met Jeannie Robertson and Jimmy McBeath, heard albums by Leadbelly and Washboard Sam and McCol and Lloyd and so much more. The Trio were to me excellent and
nteresting in what they did. Another way of working from the tradition. Ewan


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: GUEST,BikeCrone
Date: 22 Jun 18 - 03:46 PM

Dave Guard left the original Kingston Trio over musical differences. He wanted their music to become more "authentic"; Nick Reynolds and Bob Shane were happy with the sound they had.

Guard then formed the Whiskey Hill Singers, who had more idiosyncratic voices and a slightly Appalachian sound. I recall a rousing sea chanty, but I don't think they lasted very long.

What I have come to appreciate about the Kingston Trio is that their slightly ersatz folk was mixed with "songs" based on early music, including Riu Riu Chiu and the Coventry Carol. They were also pretty funny in their music and their patter.

When I was working on nuclear war issues in the 1980's, my colleagues
were thrilled by The Merry Minuet.

There is worse music to carry around in your head for 50 years.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Les from Hull
Date: 06 Sep 10 - 06:45 PM

Yes, interesting years ago but I wouldn't want to listen now. Coming from a city named Kingston (Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, England) I always wondered how they got their name. I think they just thought it sounded right. Perhaps Maggie and I should be calling ourselves 'The Kingston Duo'.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Stringsinger
Date: 06 Sep 10 - 10:41 AM

They took what they sold from the Weavers. No Pete, no Dave Guard.
They apparently were good entertainers and created a big audience but no, not
for folk music, but for KT music. Folk music was something else and still is.

I never liked "Scotch and Soda" because it seemed like an ersatz popular song of the early Fifties. it was kinda' "wasting away in Margharitaville".

I haven't revised my opinion of the Trio although you can't deny that they entertained many people and made them happy. Just like Walt Disney.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: olddude
Date: 06 Sep 10 - 10:30 AM

I saw them on Ed Sullivan as a Kid, they got me hooked, along with others like the "brothers four" ... yes same as most, then I discovered the real stuff and didn't pay much attention to them but for that I thank them.

Always loved PPM always will ... never really regarded them as folk (I know I know here comes the war) but just a great pop group with their own sound.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: MikeL2
Date: 06 Sep 10 - 09:56 AM

hi will

I came up almost the same way as you and have similar musical tastes.

I used to play and sing quite a lot of Eddie Cochrane stuff. At the time it wasn't easy to get information about the US stars.

I tried for some time to try to create a sound like Eddie - OK so in those days I used to copy !!! lol

I finally found that Eddie used a plain eg not wound third G string and I guess that maybe I was one of the first guys around here to use one.

What a huge tragedy it was when he died at the early age of just 21.

I used to regularly sing Twenty Flight Rock, Cmon Everybody and of course Summertime Blues.

I found though Eddie was popular with the music fans over here, in the UK there were very few musicians who played and sang his stuff in those early days..... though many did later.

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Sep 10 - 04:37 AM

It's interesting to read through the whole thread and see which performers from the 1950s and early '60s inspired the posters here, or got them started in a particular type of musical genre. Also interesting to see the US take on those performers.

I can't speak for everyone of my generation in the UK but, over here, a huge number of budding musicians were influenced by Lonnie Donegan and - without knowing it, therefore - trombonist and bass player Chris Barber. Barber was the first person I'm aware of who brought black American musicians like Bill Broonzy over to this country in the 1950s. Trumpeter Ken Colyer had started injecting skiffle sessions in the intervals of his jazz evenings and, when he left to form a new band, Barber continued them. Donegan's career mushroomed out of the music - and it spawned a new breed of guitar player.

(I never cared for the Kingston Trio and was effectively turned off Peter, Paul & Mary when they recorded "Puff the Magic Dragon"! What seemed so much more vital and raw, at the time, were performers like Eddie Cochran and early Elvis, Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent. Commercial, of course, but full of guts.)

However, because of the influence of Donegan, who sang stuff by Leadbelly, I then listened to Leadbelly and - bingo! - the music clicked. A lifelong interest in blues - and thence ragtime, old-time, jazz and then (ironically) in folk tunes from the UK kicked off. And I still love Eddie Cochran!


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 06 Sep 10 - 12:47 AM

If it were not for groups like The Kingston Trio; Peter, Paul, and Mary; The Limelighters; and the Brothers Four, I would probably not love folk music as much as I do. Their music was played on pop radio stations at the right time of my life. My slightly older friends adored Elvis; my slightly younger friends screamed for the Beatles; but thanks to the popular "commercial" groups, I became a folkie. Yes, I spent some time thinking those groups were not authentic, but I'm long past that and grateful for how they influenced my musical preferences.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: GUEST,Jim Moran
Date: 05 Sep 10 - 03:58 PM

Interesting to find this thread still alive ten years into it.

Seems to me, as implied above, that an expressed distaste for the Kingston Trio after admitting to a brief period of liking them until one finds the "real" stuff is a common way to damn them with faint praise. Even Time Magazine's Richard Corliss, in a 2003 article retrospective on pop folk music, asserts that the KT's importance is historical, though he grudgingly admits that they were "pretty good."

In fact - they were easily the largest record-selling group in U.S. pop music history prior to the Beatles. They essentially created (with Harry Belafonte) the public's appetite for for full-length record albums rather than singles. And their success - selling $25 million in records between 1958-1960 (more than $180 million today) is what sent record companies scrambling to find "folk" artists. Virtually everyone who played an acoustic instrument - including Doc Watson, Dave Van Ronk, Bob Dylan, and Peter, Paul and Mary (assembled by Warner Bros. records especially to be that company's KT) - benefited financially from that attention. And the honest ones, like Watson, were explicit in acknowledging that.

The iconization of the Weavers is a romantic re-interpretation of history. They were the first pop-folk commercial group, and their early recordings - the million-selling ones of 1950 - carefully avoided any political content, as well as being laden with saccharine orchestrations and background singers. "The Weavers At Carnegie Hall" on tiny Vanguard is a great recording - but it is no more authentic than the early KT albums, and it sold in the thousands where their Decca singles sold in the millions. ITS importance - the reunion of a great group following the Red Scare - is more historical than anything else. Those professionally arranged and harmonized versions of folk songs have no more "authenticity" compared to the field recordings from which they were often adapted than did the KT's.

I remember Van Ronk acidly took the KT to task for their crewcuts - but had nothing to say about the Weavers tuxes and evening gown at that Carnegie concert.

It would be sad indeed if all one knew of folk music was the Kingston Trio - who, by the way, always denied that they were "folk music" in any way. My own interest in folk music started with Win Stracke and Burl Ives and was stoked by the KT. It continued to the Weavers and traditional singers and modern interpreters and a lot of acoustic and world music in general.

But none of that necessitated disliking the KT. I have a hard time swallowing the idea that a bunch of New Yorkers trying to imitate either black blues singers a la Van Ronk or old-timey Appalachian performers a la the NLCR are any more authentic than three college boys playing fast and loose with both the music and copyrights - exactly as their idols the Weavers did. Or doesn't anyone else remember who "Paul Campbell" was?

I wrote the Wikipedia article on the KT. It is more about the history than the music, but I'd direct attention to the "Folk music label" and "Influence" sections for some perspective on what the KT was and was not.

The Kingston Trio In Wikipedia

And from that "influence section - Joan Baez from 1987:

"Traveling across the country with my mother and sisters, we heard the commercial songs of the budding folk boom for the first time, the Kingston Trio's 'Tom Dooley' and 'Scotch and Soda.' Before I turned into a snob and learned to look down upon all commercial folk music as bastardized and unholy, I loved the Kingston Trio. When I became one of the leading practitioners of 'pure folk,' I still loved them..."


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Slag
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 03:00 PM

Really interesting. I have, I think, one KT record, a 45rpm, "The Reverend Mr. Black". Was that the last one they did before they slid off the pop charts? Don't know but I always liked their sound from the beginning. Familiarity breeds contempt: The Rev is my least favorite of all KT numbers.

And as for memory lane ( and I hope memory serves here ) I recall a couple of Wille Nelson appearances on the "Cousin Herb" Show, a product of NBC local affiliate, channel 23, Bakersfiled California. I remember Spade Cooley being a regular on that program also. There's a tragedy.

I did a little stint at Channel 23 and heard a few war stories about Cuz Herb but I will keep those to myself.

No matter what opinion you may harbor about the KT, they introduced a lot of folk to the folk music scene and they were a bridge or perhaps even a homogenizer between folk and pop. After intoductions were made, many went in search of the purer stuff and followed the branches into other avenues of folk. Thank you, Kingston Trio.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 02:50 PM

Looking back at my post here in this thread, I like what I said. It is sill true, and that's doing o.k. in my book. Quite often, now, my views alter a lot---once a week is about right I think. It has to do with ageing that comes of seeing things clearer for having spent some time seriously ruminating on stuff.

And there is no such thing as "flip-flopping" being a bad thing-----for myself, or for the president either. It only proves that a person decided to use the brain they were born with.

Art


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Bettynh
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 12:37 PM

It really is, mousethief. I didn't realize Hee-Haw was so late. The 50's were all about personalities and variety shows. Look at this combination from 1959.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Leadfingers
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 12:27 PM

Same scene in UK with The Liverpool Spinners - Getting Slagged off for being too commercial , but they DID Introduce so many people to what was available in Folk !


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: mousethief
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 12:04 PM

Hee-Haw didn't come along until 1969. Hootenanny ran 1963-1964. Funny how memories all smoosh together.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Bettynh
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 11:13 AM

Wow, I love the way Mudcat and the net combine to make sense of some of these memories. In wandering around the KT sites and history, I was reminded that they were among the first to record in stereophonic sound. Anyone remember that? My dad had been a radar tech in WW2 and became an amateur radio (and any other equipment) collector and repairer. I remember how excited he was about stereo sound - jazz records in which the sounds "bounced" from one side of the room to another, and he liked folkish music anyway (I'll always wonder about that - he was stationed on Saipan at the same time as Pete Seeger). We soon had FM radio (stereo and almost exclusively classical) and UHF TV. I think there were simulcasts of the Boston Pops and FM broadcasts (in stereo!) sometime in the late 50s-early 60s.

Breakfast was with the AM radio for news, weather, and some music. The Kingston Trio became pretty popular on AM morning radio, probably because it was a Boston station and the MTA song was about us. The Chad Mitchell Trio, the Rooftop Singers and the Brothers Four were played, too.

The technology that really impressed folk music into me was tv. Pete Seeger played a concert on Boston Common in June of 1963, broadcast on WGBHTV. Oscar Brand followed a couple days later. Dad recorded Pete's concert (which included Malvina Reynolds and Bob Dylan songs) air-to-air onto a reel-to-reel taperecorder. I still have that tape, and I'm going through Dad's stuff, trying to find a working reel-to-reel machine. I don't have any recording of Oscar Brand because Dad took us to that concert to see it live. Later, over the next few years, Pete's show The Rainbow Quest showed on Saturday afternoons (followed immediately by Julia Child). Tony Saletan had a show, too. Then the station shut down till evening programming for a couple hours. On regular tv there was HeeHaw, Hootenanny, and Ed Sullivan.

A few years later, folk music was mixed into the "radical" programming of FM broadcasting. Most colleges had FM radio stations (restricted reception areas?) and many of them mutated into public radio stations (with stronger signals?). Most of them had at least one purely folk program. They still do.

Anyhow, the Kingston Trio were certainly commercial. They sang some good songs. They rode that tech wave of stereo sound. I listen occasionally, and enjoy them when I do.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 09:13 PM

I forgot to mention The Rooftop Singers--also great interpreters of traditional and other material. And I don't understand what anybody saw in The Weavers at Carnegie Hall. I thought it was an album on par with the early Kingston Trio (despite my admiration for Pete Seeger and Fred Hellerman).


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 07:05 PM

For those of you complaining about Seasons in The Sun, listen to the Pearls Before Swine version. I don't think there would be such a bias against the song if Terry Jacks hadn't totally changed the songs meaning, making it into one of the most dramatic song butcheries of all time.

Re. The Kingston Trio? I can't say I was a great fan, as they never sang very well or played their instruments--and their interpretations of most of the old folk songs were....horrendous to mediocre. However, when John Stewart joined them and they recorded the album called #16, I had a temporary change of heart--some great songs, not too badly done.

I always appreciated Peter, Paul, and Mary, Bud and Travis, and The Chad Mitchell Trio, just because they had sensitive and skilled arrangements of terrific songs, with great harmonies. And I loved the New Lost City Ramblers, Dave van Ronk, and Tom Rush as well.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 05:49 PM

[Unnamed]GUEST and Melani gave their nominations for the worst song ever written.

I insist on that distinction (in spite of its composer) for If I Had a Golden Thread. I yield to no one in my admiration for Uncle Pete, but in that one he sold his birthright for a pot of message.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: GUEST,Craig
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 04:51 PM

One of the reason for the Martin slump was the president or head at the time...and the strike...don't forget the strike...during the 70...( I have a strike period E-18 didn't do well cause they weren't in stores, cause production was down cause: of the strike....some employees were even thought to have tried to sabotage-ee
Kt was tops cause they sang and played songs that people could sing and play as well. Radio was the key, if you could get played on the radio you had it made. Many greats were never played and hence unknown to many of us out in the country with no record stores.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: GUEST,Steve N.
Date: 27 Jul 01 - 01:26 PM

Rick, Thank you for THE most interesting and entertaining thread to be posted in a long time! Lots of great remarks from all contributors, most of which I really relate to, but best of all was your original point...KT was/is REALLY MUCH BETTER THAN THEY EVER GOT CREDIT FOR. Considering the state of music that is played on the radio today, wouldn't it be great if their style, music, humor, and showmanship were reincarnated?? BTW, Shane played plectrum banjo on "Tom Dooley"...saw them do it in person. Great stuff, man....thanks again.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Jul 01 - 01:27 AM

Yeah, I'll have to go with MacArthur park as well for pure pretentiousness.

Beachcomber. Hard to say if you were hearing the plectrum or Dave Guard on Five string on MTA. Guard was a pretty decent banjo player but his "Bluegrass" chops were restricted to ONE forward roll, played over and over again, with closed chords up the neck...pretty tedious. I THINK that it was Shane (or Guard) playing "plectrum" banjo on Tom Dooley.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: RangerSteve
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 10:26 PM

Rick Fielding - thanks for that info. I'm not surprised. and Melani - you're right, it is MacArthur Park. I voted for that one in a bad song contest and it won.


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Subject: RE: Revisionist opinion on the Kingston Trio
From: Mark Clark
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 04:10 PM

Kendall, I was a Burl Ives fan in the 40's too but I didn't know there was such a thing a folk music so I just thought of him as a singer I really liked. I still have the Wayfaring Stranger album from when albums were really albums (several 78 rpm platters in a bound book) and my original sound track album (12" 78's) from "So Dear To My Heart." Lavender's blue, dilly dilly...

I was also a Weavers fan in the early 50's but still not old enough to think of them as something unique. They just seemed like part of the entertainment industry. I had to get clear through Rock-n-roll before I realized folk music was something different.

      - Mark


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