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Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)

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GUEST,Adam Cochran 12 Jun 13 - 12:53 AM
GUEST 14 Feb 13 - 10:49 PM
GUEST 04 Jul 12 - 06:27 PM
GUEST,Scott Newell 10 Mar 12 - 12:43 PM
wordfella 29 Dec 11 - 12:25 PM
Desert Dancer 24 Oct 11 - 08:04 PM
GUEST 23 Oct 11 - 08:50 PM
GUEST,Ron L 14 Jul 11 - 04:33 PM
Mark Ross 07 Jul 11 - 02:05 AM
GUEST,Sharon McCabe 07 Jul 11 - 12:23 AM
Art Thieme 06 Jul 11 - 11:56 PM
GUEST,Sharon McCabe 06 Jul 11 - 08:52 PM
Leadfingers 25 May 11 - 05:16 AM
GUEST,from tokyo 24 May 11 - 10:59 PM
Art Thieme 24 May 11 - 10:09 PM
Stringsinger 24 May 11 - 02:55 PM
Stringsinger 24 May 11 - 02:49 PM
Art Thieme 23 May 11 - 10:12 PM
Stringsinger 23 May 11 - 03:02 PM
Stringsinger 23 May 11 - 02:57 PM
Art Thieme 22 May 11 - 05:06 PM
Stringsinger 22 May 11 - 11:57 AM
Art Thieme 21 May 11 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,Paul Petraitis "Closer To The Blues" 18 Jan 11 - 01:01 PM
GUEST,fantome 24 Nov 10 - 03:36 PM
Fantome 24 Nov 10 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,Bobert 30 May 10 - 01:23 PM
Art Thieme 05 May 10 - 10:09 PM
GUEST,Judi Nowak-Hendrick 05 Dec 09 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,Drew 25 Jun 09 - 06:03 PM
GUEST,Scott Newell 19 May 09 - 11:27 PM
GUEST,Irwin Liebman 28 Apr 09 - 08:17 AM
Stringsinger 01 Apr 09 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Soren Midtgaard 01 Apr 09 - 03:41 PM
GUEST 18 Feb 09 - 12:21 AM
GUEST,Jim 17 Oct 08 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,Jim 17 Oct 08 - 11:51 AM
Art Thieme 16 Oct 08 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,art thieme (sheepishly) 12 Sep 06 - 10:37 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 12 Sep 06 - 10:34 PM
GUEST,Guy Guilbert 12 Sep 06 - 07:28 PM
GUEST,Art again 11 Sep 06 - 08:02 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 11 Sep 06 - 08:00 PM
Desert Dancer 10 Sep 06 - 08:42 PM
GUEST,Guy Guilbert 10 Sep 06 - 03:38 AM
GUEST,patbanjo 21 Jun 06 - 06:29 PM
banjo Mick 30 May 06 - 11:23 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 07 Apr 06 - 12:37 AM
GUEST,William Malloy 06 Apr 06 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,Norm SIegel 01 Apr 06 - 06:45 PM
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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Adam Cochran
Date: 12 Jun 13 - 12:53 AM

I found this site by accident, and remember so many of the people mentioned. John Brown, John Carbo, Guy Guilbert, Art Theime, and after working at Mother Blues with the Eastgate Singers (5-string banjo and guitar) I worked at the Merlin Banjo Company stamping parts and assemling banjos before starting at the Red Garter and working there on 4-string for many years before finishing law school. I am now Associate General Counsel at Caltech in Pasadena. I miss those days in Old Town.

Adam.cochran@caltech.edu


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Feb 13 - 10:49 PM

Does anyone remember seeing Tommy Makem at the Quiet Knight in about 1972? He was alone without the Clancy Brothers.
O


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 06:27 PM

Hello Art, really enjoy your posts, especially those dealing with the New Wine Singers, of which I was a founding member. Stay well, Bob Connelly


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Scott Newell
Date: 10 Mar 12 - 12:43 PM

Bill Malloy, one of the inventors of the Merlin banjo and a member of the New Wine Singers, died February 3, 2012, near Cleveland, OH.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: wordfella
Date: 29 Dec 11 - 12:25 PM

Refreshing, because the thread deserves it.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 24 Oct 11 - 08:04 PM

Refreshing, for yesterday's GUEST.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Oct 11 - 08:50 PM

I only played banjo once (played slide on one tuned to DGDG, but I am a musician and historian and am fascinated by the banjo community and the many scenes you folks flowed in and out of...I'm interested in how mixed blues bands started playing to mixed audiences here in Chicago...the integrated Blue Note (closed in 1960) brought mixed couples to the Loop...black and whites were seated at separate tables at Chez Paree at that time...mixed folk groups and Dizieland Bands are part of this too...New York's famous jazz scene was real Jim Crow for years...I'll be talking to Earl P and his partner Chris about their years at the Old Town Gate (1529 Wells I think next to Chances R sez Earl)"Dixieland 8 Nights a week" the billboards said!It sure seems like Mike Bloomfield was not part of this banjo clique, he started on acoustic because his wife Susan was a fol;kie...like Dylan Mike started on electric and then went acoustic! I'm also real interested in The Fret Shop in Hyde Park.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Ron L
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 04:33 PM

I worked at the Merlin factory on Clark St one summer while I was in high school. I have a long neck with a prototype sliding 5th string capo.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Mark Ross
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 02:05 AM

McCabes is in Santa Monica California Art.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Sharon McCabe
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 12:23 AM

I do not remember a McCabe's music store back in the day. Wasn't connected to my family


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 06 Jul 11 - 11:56 PM

Wasn't there a McCabes Music Store in Chicago for a long time??

Art


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Sharon McCabe
Date: 06 Jul 11 - 08:52 PM

Not sure why but I decided to google Merlin banjo. My dad made them - Lennard (not Leonard) back in Chicago when I was young. I think I still have one.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 May 11 - 05:16 AM

100


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,from tokyo
Date: 24 May 11 - 10:59 PM

Thanks,Art & Frank

Yesterday@I listen to the Radio Album,
Studs Terkel's Weekly Almanac Radio Programme,No 4:
Folk Music & Blues at internet.

Beautiful!

Kiyohide Kunizaki at Tokyo Folklore Center


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 May 11 - 10:09 PM

Frank,
I took one group lesson from you. Tune you taught that day was Pete's 'Singing In The Country' or 'Living In The Country' --- Key of D I think. It was the first time I'd ever tried to play and pick further up the neck than the first 3 frets.
Then you left to Join the Weavers and I never took another formal lesson again---but I sure did learn from folks I ran into all over. One time at the Gate Paul Clayton guested at one of those Sunday afternoon hoots that went on for several years.

Do you remember that strange section at the Gate--it was sort of a peanut gallery -- set aside for teens who couldn't drink yet.-- Just Coke was served there.------Wow, almost forgot that.

that reminds me of a night at the bar at the original Second City--on Clark Street right near Wisconsin St.   I was under-aged but loved to hang out there and just listen to the talk. Very cool. Nelson Algren hung out there too. He was piqued because I only ordered Coke. Once Mr. Algren shoved his own beer down the bar to me--to the consternation of the bartender.---------- My MS sure screws up my recent memory, but the olden golden times seem to be with me still. --- All the best to you and Mary! I do hope you both are well. ----- Art


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Stringsinger
Date: 24 May 11 - 02:55 PM

Art, I had one of Paddy Bauler's famous free haircuts across the street at a small barber shop on North and Sedgewick. I think Win arranged it.

I had a trio Monday nights at Mike Bloomfield's "Fickle Pickle" playing pop folk stuff ala Mighty Wind. At the time, Dick Gregory would come down and do a guest set after his stint at Robert's Show Lounge on the South Side. My co-horts were Bob Rose, Bernie "Cheyanne" Schatz and we had Bob Gibson as a visitor from time to time.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Stringsinger
Date: 24 May 11 - 02:49 PM

Peter Paul and Mary came out of this, Art, as you know. About that time Al Grossman who ran the Gate decided he would put together this folk trio, I think the story was in his words, "Two rabbis and a hooker". I was during that time that Al auditioned and presented them at the Gate and gave them the names, Paul was Noel Stookey and Peter was a modestly successful act as a single. Everybody knew Mary, the Amazon Queen of Washington Square.

I think one of the bass players worked with them at the time. I was accompanying Shoshana Damari, the legendary Yemenite singer at the time.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 May 11 - 10:12 PM

This old thread just keeps on keepin' on. Thanks for the tales, Frank.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Stringsinger
Date: 23 May 11 - 03:02 PM

I was really sorry to hear what happened to Herb Brown. I felt badly for Wilbur Ware, too.

There were four bass players used at the Gate of Horn.
Herb Brown
Bill Lee (Spike Lee's father)
Wilbur Ware
Buckwheat (with Bud and Travis)
They all played acoustic bass.

These were the regulars. Bill recorded with Odetta on Tradition Records and with me on banjo, and Bruce Langhorne (a great guitarist) on "Hearty and Hellish"/ the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem at the Gate of Horn.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Stringsinger
Date: 23 May 11 - 02:57 PM

Hi Art,

I jammed once with Ira, Bob Dorough on piano and Fred Kaz was there too.
They were very nice to me, not like some of the other musicians in the area who thought they were so hot. Ira, Bob, Fred....great musicians......nice people.

The famous story about Rodney is that he got hooked because Bird did it. Bird said to him, don't do that because I did it.

Rodney was represented in the rather peculiar movie by Clint Eastwood showing a scene between Red Rodney and Bird. Red was able to get the Jewish wedding gigs in which he helped Bird get some money.

An acquaintance of Bird for many years said that Eastwood got Bird on a bad day. Bird was pretty happy playing with Diz and not such a morose individual as Clint suggested.

I think that the jazz musician as survivor (Art Pepper style) is exaggerated. These musicians had a good time playing.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 22 May 11 - 05:06 PM

Frank,
I heard Ira Sullivan on several of those Monday Nights at the Gate.
In recent years, Ira Sullivan formed a bebop group with Red Rodney. Do you remember Red Rodney? He was a white guy who played trumpet with Charlie Parker early on. When the combo was touring in the south, it posed a problem. Whites and blacks weren't allowed to perform together back then. So they passed Red Rodney off as an ALBINO! -- and it worked.

Red and Ira Sullivan both played the trumpet--and that was a problem. So Ira Sullivan taught himself on the spur of the moment to play saxophone. And he was great at it. They might still be playing together---I don't know.

There are several CDs of the two of them out as we speak. (made after 2000 or so)


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Stringsinger
Date: 22 May 11 - 11:57 AM

Joe Siegel, former manager for Louis Armstrong, booked the Monday Night jazz sessions at the Gate of Horn with Sullivan, Kaz et. al. I tried to sit in one night but couldn't cut it.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 May 11 - 06:42 PM

I was gonna say it was Sedgwick and North Ave. But you corrected yourself. I never knew Silver Sid's last name! Thanks for filling that in for me.------- Also at that intersection was Alderman Paddy Bauler's bar / office. He was the main man in the Forty-Third ward. His buddy, Win Stracke was a founder of the Old Town School of Folk Music--with Dawn Greening and Gert Soltker and Mudcatter Frank Hamilton.

I remember opening up the Old Town Folklore Center that dat; everything looked normal at first. --The Folklore Center was also right near that intersection--at 343 W. North Ave-- Pretty quickly it was obvious that we'd been robbed over night. Several guitars, banjos ad very heavy Roberts reel-to-reel tape decks were just gone. And there was no sign of a break-in -- anywhere. After hours of searching and scratching our chins, I went down into the basement and found one wall kicked in!!! The thieves had gone underground after lifting a manhole cover----then crawled under the hollow area under the sidewalk---got to the perfect spot---and kicked in the dam basement wall. They gathered whatever they wanted, and took it out of the store the same way they'd come in. Never used the door!

Win Stracke went to have a beer with Alderman Bauler that day and told him what had gone down. Bauler said he'd check with the neighborhood fence that night.

As it turned out, the fence had all our merchandise! The thieves were junkies who needed cash quick. Bottom line was that we had to pay the fence's price to get our stuff back.----------So we did that---without a word to the police.

I do recall a short neck Merlin banjo being in that load of contraband.------- Folks Paddy Bauler was the Chicago Alderman who first said, "Chicagah ain't ready for reform!" ---

As I mentioned in this thread up top---John Carbo was the manager of the store. And in 1965--'66-- and into '67 I served as assistant manager. --- The late folksinger,Fred Holstein, worked there part time. So did Ed Holstein for a while.

I do miss Chicago... It's just the way things were. Par for da course!!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Paul Petraitis "Closer To The Blues"
Date: 18 Jan 11 - 01:01 PM

Enjoying the Gate?pickle?Old Town tidbits Am writing a book on the 60's Blues Boom in Chicago who's FANTOME whose bro played drums with Mike Bloomfield?


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,fantome
Date: 24 Nov 10 - 03:36 PM

I mean Sedgewick Ave. and North. Old Age ...


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Fantome
Date: 24 Nov 10 - 09:00 AM

I do remember the Rum Runners from shows at It's Here on Sheridan Road. I had a new Merlin long neck 5-string and wanted to learn how to play it so I took lessons from their banjo player up in Evanston. Can't remember his name and I still can't play the thing very well. But the Merlin has survived nicely all these years as well as the Guild D 40 I bought while teaching guitar in 1964 at Wilmette Music near the 4th & Linden terminal of the CTA. I lived just behind Silver Sid Warner's shop on Armitage & North Avenue. He made a truss rod cover in sterling with my initials on it. Still have that on my D 40. And thanks to everyone for all the stories from those days. I was only 18 and a little late on the scene but my brother Roy played drums with Mike Bloomfield back when they were at New Trier High School and one afternoon at our house in Wilmette Bloomfield taught me how to play a couple of chords. I was 13 but it got me going. I still enjoy playing whenever I can get a few locals together up here in midcoast Maine.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Bobert
Date: 30 May 10 - 01:23 PM

I enjoyed very much reading all of the comments about Merlin Banjo. Also, I especially enjoyed the comment about "It's Here" and sitting on the floor. Now the question of the hour is - does anyone out there remember Jimmy Carter or The Rum Runners who use to sing there - what ever became of them? If so email Bob at ndahl1@cox.net.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 May 10 - 10:09 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Judi Nowak-Hendrick
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 12:00 PM

Hi Guy!
Look me up on Facebook, we need to do a lot of catching up!
Judi - Smiles


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Drew
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 06:03 PM

Does anyone know where i can find the tuning peg apparatus that merlin banjos have? I own a 4 string merlin banjo that is missing this crucial part. any info helps. thanks. my email is aadavis80@yahoo.com.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Scott Newell
Date: 19 May 09 - 11:27 PM

In the early 70's, I bought a Merlin banjo from a fellow music teacher at Hewitt's Music in Dearborn, Michigan. Later went on to tour with it with the New Christy Minstrels. Here's a link to a picture of an album the group made in Japan:

http://www.thenewchristyminstrels.com/images/7306-NCMKeepJapanBeautiful-100.jpg

While traveling with that banjo, the resonator got very banged up, even though it was inside a hard case. The metal of the resonator was so soft, every time we'd fly, just the movement of the instrument inside the case would enlarge the holes where the screws went through. Was lucky enough to get a new resonator before the Merlin company went out of business, so the banjo is in great shape. It was very good for concerts--hardly needed a microphone. And boy, did it stay in tune with those high ratio tuning keys.

I'm now a freelance television producer and recently helped produce a program on a medical subject. Without knowing beforehand his Merlin connection, one of the people we featured was Bill Malloy who worked in the Merlin factory. I spoke at length with his wife and found out many things about Bill and that banjo. It is remarkable that our paths would cross under those circumstances and after all these years.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Irwin Liebman
Date: 28 Apr 09 - 08:17 AM

Back in the early 70's Fleming Brown sold me a Merlin Banjo for a hundred bucks and he threw in 2 kittens(one sick) as a bonus. I think he got a kick out of that deal.I remember that it was really loud and heavy. I sold it to my then father in-law but dearly remember the sick kitten (with pneumenitis) who sneezed all over my carpets and curtains for a year.
Irwin Liebman
iliebman@netzero.com


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Stringsinger
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:01 PM

Hi Art and Guy,

I jammed with Ira and Bob Dorough at the old Gate in 57 or so. I was saddened to hear
about Herb Brown who backed a lot of the folkies at the Gate. Wilbur Ware and Bill Lee
also.

The word on Eastwood's flick is that he probably picked the worst day in Bird's life to
put on film. Bird was a pretty happy-go-lucky guy from those who knew him,
notably a man deceased now named Buddy Jones who worshipped him.

Ware was sad. He used to ask for pennies to feed his habit.

The Second City crowd mixed with the Gate crowd. I knew Alan Arkin, Paul Sand (nee Sanchez), and met Severign Darden a couple of times. Barbara Harris told me about her
sojourn in Hollywood. She was married to Paul Sills at the time.

When I played at the Gate, there was a little-known comic who did a telephone sketch
for a very small audience. He had studied acting in California. His name was Shelly Berman.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Soren Midtgaard
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 03:41 PM

Hi

I am looking to buy a Merlin Banjo. If one of you guys have a lead I would appreciate it.

My email is soren_roi@yahoo.dk


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 12:21 AM

A bit down the thread (about 3 years back) my old friend Guy Gilbert mentioned that he didn't know what became of Ira Sullivan.
Ira has been living in the Miami, Florida area since at least the early 1970s if not earlier.
I've met him several times over the years and got together with him last Fall when he dedicated a night of his playing to my late uncle, Conti Milano a bass player who Ira knew for many years.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 11:53 AM

Left click on the photo above for a larger view.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 11:51 AM

Getting back to the Merlin; here's an old ad from Sing Out!

http://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/photos2.asp?id=17973&photoID=35191&albumid=1828


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Oct 08 - 01:11 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,art thieme (sheepishly)
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 10:37 PM

Of course, that should be BIRD!


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 10:34 PM

Here is an aside addendum:

Ira Sullivan played at the original Gate Of Horn (at Chicago and Dearborn streets) on Monday nights -- the only night that wasn't folk music. This was 1959. --- More recently, in the 1990s, Ira Sullivan teamed up with RED RODNEY, also a trumpet player. Sooo, Ira taught himself to play saxophone. They made some fine albums---one of which I have. Mostly be-bop in style.

RED RODNEY, who was white, played trumpet with the amazing Charlie Parker when he was young. They had several gigs to play in the south---where black and white musicians were NOT then allowed to play together--let alone hang out together. The story Parker told the sheriff when he came around was that Red was not white---he was a mulatto! ------ I guess it worked!!!

This episode is featured in Clint Eastwood's film bio of Charlie Parker called BYRD-----a fine film starring Forrest Whittaker as Parker.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Guy Guilbert
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 07:28 PM

Oh, yeah...Fred Kaz lives on his boat, here in Marina Del Ray. He occasionally plays piano with The Second City Alumni, but arthritus has severely claimed his hands. I play for the alumni when he doesn't.

I also heard, don't know if it's true, but I think it is, Herb Brown was murdered in New York.

Ira Sullivan: I knew he moved to the San Fransico area in the mid-late '60's. Don't know where he is now.

Willie Write: Willie died in the early seventies from a gangrene infection he got from dropping a bucket of paint on his toe and ignoring it. There was a benefit in '74 at The Second City. Gibson & Camp performed amoung others.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Art again
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 08:02 PM

I hope I hadn't already recounted that stuff in this thread! Well, whatever.

Art


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 08:00 PM

Guy,

It's pretty amazing reading your doings back in them other times. You've got me thinking of the group THE FRETS. You, with that group, opened for Frank Hamilton when we brought him in to play at the University Of Illinois-Navy Pier 2-year branch back in 1961 I think. --- It's making my brain smoke to think that far back. All those reel-to-reel tapes I made of that concert have crumbled. I still have a couple of songs from it on cassette---Singin' In The Country by Frank--a song he taught in the one class I caught him teaching before he joined The Weavers. I never sat in on another lesson after that. He also did "Meadowlands"---the Russian equivalent of "America The Beautiful". I sort of learned it from that tape--and got a ton of mileage out of it over the years. A beautiful song!-----Anyhow, I did manage to save that song as done by Frank that night on a cassette. Still have it.

Fascinating times...

Art


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 08:42 PM

refresh for those who might not have caught Guy's post!


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Guy Guilbert
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 03:38 AM

Hi every one. I will try to answer some question above that were posted earlier this year.
Norm: Yes, I am not DEAD! Sorry to disappoint you. Ha! I had an aortic dissection three years ago and had open heart surgery to replace part of my aorta.

Frank; before I started lessons at The Old Town School Of Folk Music, in '57? 58?, my mother, one day, was strolling down North Ave. when a man came up to her and asked directions for TOTSOFM. She said, 'Follow me,' and led him down the block, in the building, and up the three flights. Seems everybody was waiting for this guy, for when he walked in the room, an audience of people stood and applauded him. He grabbed a guitar, jumped on stage, and Big Bill Bronzy started to sing. My mother was stunned. Frank, you probably remember his first performance there???

Yes Frank, I did go to some Gate hoots but never saw you there. Never saw Gibson either. I think you both were busy with other things by then. The School for one. I don't think Spanky ever went to the hoots there, but she did hang at the bar...a lot. In fact, that's where I first met her and where our torrid love affair began. Whew!

Spanky MC FARLANE now lives in Ferndale, CA, which is right below Eureka, CA. She just bought a house, sings at some open mics. In fact, I just saw her a couple of weeks ago. We played a lot of cards.

Spanky was in The Mamas And Papas for 11 or 12 years. There were MANY tours.

A important song in my song-set was, "The Rock Island Line," Lonnie Donnigan's version. Joe Klee was always putting me down for doing it. What a guy.

The Fickle Pickle: That was a big hang for Spanky, McGuinn, Ray Tate, Joe Klee, Mike Settle, Dave Brian (later Dave Blum of The Second City) me, and god knows who else. Mike Bloomfield was NEVER there when it was MY HANGOUT. He worked there later; was the doorman, seat sitter. (I produced a radio spot for Country Club Malt Liquor with Mike and Nick Gravenitus(sp). We prerecorded all the track but him. He came in listened to the tracks once, laid his guitar against the amp and created a howling feedback, yelled to start the tape recorder, and blistered a guitar passage on a spare track-IN ONE TAKE!)

I played at the Pickle with The Frets several times, with the late, great John Carbo and Lou MacDonald. This was right after I took McGuinn's place in the group. Great times. Would all go to a pancake house after hours and meet up with the likes of the Clancy Brother and that ilk. Goggies-right down the street. Does anybody remember the Goggie-burger? Mmmm.

Here's a story: Ray Tate calls me and says we have a gig playing behind the Clancys because Tommy Makem(sp) had hurt his hand and couldn't play banjo. Ray was playing banjo and I bass. This was at the Roosevelt Auditorium. I take a cab to the gig, get out, and enter the place. Later, I'm on stage with everyone, plunking away. The Clancys are singing it up big. All of a sudden, my bass strings are soft, spaghetti. I look down and my bridge had collapsed 90 degrees. Flat. Nothing. Flop, flop. Bonnie Kolac was in the house and swears I said, 'Oh, fuck!' Anyway, the audience in the first row saw it, started laughing, second row starts laughing, and like dominos, each row picks up on it. I'm standing there mugging, of course. The Clancys know nothing except for the laughter, and not the reason why. FINALLY they turn and see me, shrugging. The place went up for grabs. I slink off stage, and realizing I can't fix the bridge (it takes a special tool to put it back on), grab a guitar and return to the stage to huge applause. Apparently I had knocked the bridge goofy when getting out of the cab. Duh.

Bruce Langhorn lives here in LA. I saw him about 4 years ago at a gig with Peter Elbling. He's looking good. I did an album in '62 in NY with him backing Inman & Ira. He doesn't remember. Oh, well. Later, gUy


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,patbanjo
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 06:29 PM

Hi to Coolhand Tom and banjoMick,
I think I know you Mick.
Well I picked up a long neck Merlin recently and had to do some work on it, but my main reason is for authenticity sake. I did meet Luke in 1981 and played his Vega Pete Seeger at that stage. Great privelage.
   Does anyone have an idea where I good get a sliding 5th string capo or maybe send me photos and I could try and get a copy fabricated. I know the story of the sprig clip type to put in the different holes in the neck.
Have a look on www.patkelleher.net "Instruments Page" and "Click for Next Page"

Pat


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: banjo Mick
Date: 30 May 06 - 11:23 AM

Coolhand Tom,

Just came across your comments about Luke Kelly and his merlin banjo,he taught me to play on that very instrument.
Was never able to get one for myself.


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 07 Apr 06 - 12:37 AM

Norm,

I sent it to Bill already.

Art


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,William Malloy
Date: 06 Apr 06 - 03:56 PM

Anyone,

If you know Guy Guilbert's e-mail address please forward. I'm Bill Malloy from New Wine Singers and long ago part owner of the Merlin Banjo Co.

Enjoyed reading the past.

wmalloy@adelphia.net


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Subject: RE: Merlin Banjo (and the Chicago Folk Scene)
From: GUEST,Norm SIegel
Date: 01 Apr 06 - 06:45 PM

Professor Art---you have done it again! Presley, Page, Rosemary and Thieme, INDEED!!!! A classic Art Thieme groaner if I have ever heard one. Obviously, while your health my not be the great3est, your mind is sharp as ever!!! You must have been up for nights thinking that one up!!!

Love ya to pieces!!!

Norm

PS BTW, I did a stint on bass with Bob Gibson at the Belmont Quiet Knight in 1970. On one night, we had the Trib "gossip" columnists, John and Abra Anderson in the audience. They had a Penthouse Apartment on top of the Drake hotel, and they always looked "Mahvelous", even in jeans and sneakers. Bob recognized them from the stage and made them take a bow! I leaned over to Bob and said: "Even in jeans and sneakers, they STILL looked like they just stepped off of a wedding cake!" It was one of the few times I saw Bob break up uncontrolably during a performance!


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