Mudcat Café message #2722029 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #123556   Message #2722029
Posted By: Stringsinger
11-Sep-09 - 10:41 PM
Thread Name: Obit: Sam Hinton RIP - 10 September 2009
Subject: RE: Obit: Sam Hinton RIP - 10 September 2009
Sam Hinton was a mentor for me. It was because of him that I did my first folk concert in 1952 under his auspices at San Diego State College.

He was an amazing person. Most people don't know how accomplished he was. Oceanographer, calligrapher, biologist, head of educational coordinator for California Universities, and a brilliant folklorist, fine entertainer and performer of folk songs for adults and children were just some of his accomplishments. Probably the best straight diatonic harmonica player ever recorded. He had a unique accompaniment style on the guitar. His singing had a lilt and a lightness that captivated audiences.

In the early 1950's he had a hit that was squashed by the F.C.C. during the McCarthy times. "Ol' Man Atom" would have climbed the charts. His version was the definitive one. It was a talking blues written by newspaperman Verne Partlow from Detroit who relocated in Los Angeles. It was an homage to peace in the tradition of Tom Lehrer.

"I'm gonna' preach ya' all a sermon 'bout ol' man Atom.
I don't mean the Atom that Mother Eve mated.
I mean the Atom that science liberated.
When Einstein says he's scared, brother, I'm scared......................."

Sam was an important part of the Folk Music Revival. Although his work was not known, unfortunately, outside the San Diego area, he did many concerts and delighted audiences of all ages.

Sam had another unique ability. He could imitate animal sounds perfectly. He was gifted in the way that Mel Blanc was. He was given an amazing mouth in which he could do a Bach two part invention by whistling and humming two different parts simultaneously. (I wonder if this has ever been recorded.) He could also do something I've never heard anyone do....whistle in two part harmony.

He could put on what he called his Kiwanis Club show, a remnant of a former time
where he was a one man band on the Major Bowes Amateur Hour in the Thirties. He played a variety of instruments including the concertina and accordion.

He had an illustrious career that few knew of in the folk music field outside of California. Above all, he was a fine human being, compassionate,and encouraging to
those who aspired to perform folk music.

His seminars at Idyllwild Camp near Palm Springs with another major player in the Folk Revival, Alan Lomax's sister, Bess Lomax Hawes were memorable. These people educated me in the love of American folk music.

He decided that being a professional entertainer was not foremost what he had in mind
for his life. He went back to school in California to pursue a successful career in biology and oceanography. He became the curator for the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. Sam lived in La Jolla and raised his family there.
His late wife, Leslie, was an accomplished musician and teacher.

Adam Miller and I owe a great deal to Sam for his guidance. So do many others
but they may not know of it. Adam has compiled an autobiography for Sam. You can also purchase a recording of Sam's prodigious harmonica through Adam and George Winston.

With Sam's passing, an era of folk music has gone. Pete Seeger and Bess Hawes are
still with us.

I will grieve remembering Sam's generous talent and spirit.

Frank Hamilton