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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Steve S Obit: Fred Geis (January, 2009) (22) Fred Geis 08 May 11


I've read with interest postings about Fred Geis, 60s s/sw of some reknown in the Chicago scene and Carbondale CO.

I knew Geis about summer 1962-he was my cabin counselor at a Jewish summer sleep-away camp near Andes, NY. He was also a specialist counselor; the "folk song counselor". My memories of him are very detailed, and became "tied together" after I got heavily into the Philly scene ca. 1980 as a blues and oldtime musician.

Geis played a Gibson J45, ca 1960-62. He had a flexible tenor voice with falsetto ability, but he didn't yodel. He flat picked and did some basic finger picking. His song repertoire was odd...mostly college boy folk (KT, etc) and a little Baez/Bob Gibson rep, spiced with Mexican revolution songs, Spanish Loyalist songs, Yiddish and Israeli songs, Boer songs (from Marias and Miranda), Guthrie children's songs...about as socio-political as he got was "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream". Visually, he was rail thin, and affected a "Tom Rush" look.

He was a vicious competitor at tennis. He was held in contempt by many of the "jock" counselors, as well as many campers. He seemed to truly dislike kids. He appeared to be a practicing, if not devout Jew.

His "California/labor/hobo" persona is questionable. More than one counselor told me he was a Long Island kid who attended CCNY and flunked out of Albany-Upstate med school....his mode of travel at the time was a shiny new VW bug.

He often led the campers in singing "This is the Land of Milk and Honey" from the 1961 musical, possibly the genesis of his infamous "California- Goin' Home" lawsuit song.

I'd be interested in other recollections of Geis.

s.


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