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Kingston trio--a place in history

07 Apr 01 - 12:09 AM (#435052)
Subject: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Big Red

After more than a year of almost daily observation of the forum, I have come to greatly respect the musical knowledge, experience and observations of the catters. Therefore, I pose a question that has puzzled me for years: When the history of folk is discussed, the contributions of the Kingston Trio (as well as others of the era, especially the groups)are largely ignored and at times viewed with disdain. WHY?

Although preceeded by the Weavers and the Easy Riders in popularity and in the "charts", the success of the Trio was awesome. Millions of people were exposed to a least a part of the wonderful world of folk. The result was that doors opened for many other artists, doors that would have remained closed. Also, countless others started a lifetinme of involvement with folk music. While the "folk scare" (as some catters call it) could not be sustained, the effects are still with us today.

My observation is that the folk community (if such ever existed or exists today) resented the Trio (and others) for several reasons. 1. They were commercially (read financially) successfull. Envy is a strong and common human trait. 2. They were young. They had not paid their "dues". 3. They often did songs in a new way. The new is often resisted. 4. The Trio was too polished in their presentation. Others were too good musically. They did not sound like "folks". 5. With the Trio (and many others) it was the music that they presented and not the politics.

I believe that this last reason was and is the most telling. To voices of the "folk community" such as SING OUT, the Trio did not even exist (because, I believe, the Trio did not share the politics.)

The younger generation is being cheated out of a major perspective in folk by not being given the opportunity or the encouragement to learn of the many contributions to folk by the artists of the "folk scare" of the 50's and 60's.

While the Trio was the lead group, many others offered a great deal. While I don't suggest the the Trio or any of the others be put on a pedistal, I do believe that they should be given their due credit.

07 Apr 01 - 04:21 AM (#435100)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Joe Offer

Hii, Red - I got my first exposure to folk music from the Kingston Trio and from Peter, Paul and Mary. I babysat at one house where the people had all the PP&M albums, and at another house where they had all the KT albums. These two acts were the most popular performers of the "folk" revival of the 1960's. They adapted the music to fit their time, and they made it fun. I still enjoy their recordings.
But do the Kingston Trio have a place in history? Well, I don't know about that. They adapted folk music so it was a commercial success for their time - but I think that their adaptations aren't timeless. If you listen to them now, they sound dated and maybe even a bit trite.
Of course, people could accuse me of being dated and a bit trite...
I still like 'em.
-Joe Offer-

07 Apr 01 - 06:11 AM (#435114)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: old head

hi,big red,yes they do have a place in musical history.i and many others have been influenced by them,back in the 50's and i still do their songs today.all the best,to you and yours,bye.

07 Apr 01 - 06:51 AM (#435119)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Armen Tanzerian

There are many, many of us who moved quickly on to bluegrass, blues, etc. that are forced to admit that the first folk music we heard was the Kingston Trio. I remember very well walking into a burger joint in about 1959, hearing "Tom Dooley" coming out of the radio and thinking "What the hell is that? The Trio greatly benefited from the fact that rock 'n roll, which had hit kids my age with such force had just been successfully re-appropriated by the music moguls -- Frankie Avalon and Fabian had replaced Jerry Lee and most of the rootsy R&B artists that had stormed onto the charts in that heady first wave. So there was a vacuum waiting to be filled with something more genuine. The Trio were not an accident. They were shaped and groomed by a manager (Werbler?) who spotted the niche in the pop music arena. The clean-cut, collegiate look and matching outfits were his idea. So we can't deny them their due and thank them for preparing so many of us for the "real" folk music of Blind Lemon, Bill Monroe, Sleepy John, the Stanley Brothers, Joseph Spence, et al. But were they good? In my opinion, not very. They watered down and commercialized songs, and their playing and singing was never much more than mediocre. I might make an exception for Scotch and Soda which was an original and showed off what sylistic strength he (Nick?) had. But in retrospect, they mostly murdered the real roots tunes they attempted. One man's opinion...

07 Apr 01 - 08:23 AM (#435136)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: bill\sables

Here in the UK in the 60s we had "The Spinners" a group of four lads from Liverpool who were very sucessful singing folk songs to audiences in Concert Halls and Television. They were, however, resented by most of the "folkies" in the clubs. You would often hear remarks like, "I can't sing that, It's a Spinners song" or "If you liked us we were (insert name of group), If you didn't like us we are The Spinners". I think it was mostly jelousy because the Spinners were more sucessful than they were. They did change songs to suit their audiences but in the long run they probably put more arses on seats in folk clubs than anyone else of the era. I remember on quite a few occasions when new people would come to my club and say "We heard The Spinners on TV and liked what they did so we've come here to hear more of that type of music"

07 Apr 01 - 09:20 AM (#435152)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: kendall

My interest in folk music pre dates the KT by many years. While it's true that they were not great musicians, and were commercially successful, I liked them. Purists are a pain in the ass. If you dont like them, dont listen to them! Without their performances, it's likely that the songs they sang might never have been heard. I'd much rather hear them sing Long Black Rifle than some 48 verse boring ancient ballad.

07 Apr 01 - 09:41 AM (#435162)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Jon Freeman

I have often thought that there is such a thing as folk snobbery and that it can be fashionable to knock the commercially successful groups just as it is to knock songs like the Wild Rover.


07 Apr 01 - 09:52 AM (#435168)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Midchuck

There are, perhaps, a disproportionate number of confirmed folkies who are in my immediate age group - pushing 60 or just over. This is because we are the group that was in college during the "great folk scare." That period began with the death of Buddy Holly, the drafting of the King into the army - and the release by the Kingston Trio of "Tom Dooley" and "Scotch and Soda." It began to end with the Kennedy assassination and the Beatles first American tour (winter '63-'64); and probably officially ended when Dylan came onstage at the '65 Newport festival with a solid-body electric.

I suspect that the Kingston Trio were the first exposure to folk music as fun, rather than as a school subject, and therefore ex officio boring, for the great majority of us in this age bracket. Almost all of us who stayed involved with the music later became embarrassed that we ever liked the Trio, because they were so "commercial." Some of us outgrew that embarrassment, when we realized that if they hadn't been slick and commercial, they never would have caught on, and we might have missed out on the music completely - or because we got hooked on Ayn Rand and came to believe that Commercial was Good. Others never got past the embarrassed stage.

Mike Lussen, of Woods Tea Co., has a gag where he introduces a song with: "This is one we learned from the Kingston Trio. Any Kingston Trio fans here?" And if any hands go up, he says: "It's your bedtime."

I would not spend much time listening to them now, unless in a spirit of sheer nostalgia. But I don't kid myself about my debt to them.


07 Apr 01 - 10:11 AM (#435178)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Naemanson

I guess, since I have a more liberal view of what is folk music, I will step boldly out on to the proverbial limb and state that KT and PP&M were my first experience in folk music and I still think they were good and I still enjoy their music. And I even perform their music, unashamedly and even proudly. Of course, I've added my own elements to those pieces...

Of course, there were 15 years of absolutely NO folk music between those years of listening to KT and PP&M and my next folk experiences. That may have tainted my opinion.

07 Apr 01 - 10:26 AM (#435182)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Dharmabum

I suppose groups like the KT or PP&M could be considered "Homogenized." But It was groups like those that sparked an interest in folk music for me. Guys like Phil Ochs & The New Lost City Ramblers.

Granted,once I'd discovered the more traditional artists,the transformation was swift.

But I'll still bring out the KT's version of Tom Dooley on the occasional campfire sing,just because that's the one that most folks remember & can sing along with.


07 Apr 01 - 11:53 AM (#435213)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Rick Fielding

Boy, I sure rember the effect Tom Dooley had on me. I think at the time, folk music fans were inclined to go in two directions. Folks who saw themselves as "mainstream" enjoyed the Trio, and the many other "safe" groups of the day (Brothers Four, Gateway Singers, Hoyt Axton, New Christie Minstrels etc.) If you saw yourself as somewhat anti-establishment, you'd probably have found them "not dangerous enough".

Funny thing though, The Trio actually "formed themselves" simply for the love of the music. Peter Paul and Mary (nuch more accepted by the "lefties") were actually a commercially "manufactured" group, put together by Albert Grossman, to make tons of money. Perhaps because of Mary Travers' "lefty" connections they got more ink in the "folk Press".

I think the big knock on The Kingston Trio was that they copyrited and changed trad songs. So did the Weavers (and everyone else, of course) but the Trio got most of the flack....til Dylan came along anyway.


07 Apr 01 - 11:55 AM (#435215)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Skeptic

A view from a professional audience and folk groupie.

A child of the '60s, I mingled the Trio, PP&M, along with Morrison, Hendrix and Joplin and lots of forgettable groups.

But I had Troll, somewhat older, lots more musical talent (not hard as I have almost none), not too bright, setting a good folk example. Back then heavy on irish and sea chanties, I remember. Did introduce me to the dulcimer and Jean Ritchy, however

Nostalgia occassionly lures me back. In retrospect, I look at a lot of the packaged folk groups of the time much like the old kitch art "standard" of Venus de Milo with a clock stuck in her stomach. The core disturbed by the tacky cliche but somehow almost bad enough to be good.



07 Apr 01 - 12:15 PM (#435239)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: chip a

They get respect from me. Hell, I even liked the Rooftop Singers! Really, my brother found folk while I was still delivering papers for the $ to buy Little Richard, Chuck Berry et. al. He even went to Newport, whatever that was. Well, my brother has been gone since '66, but I have some of his records. The Trio was pretty damn commercial, weren't they? But then, I remember a mother's of invention album over with about 50 of them on there and the words: we're only in it for the money. How many were NOT wanting commercial success.


07 Apr 01 - 12:47 PM (#435268)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Naemanson

So, how many performers are NOT in it for the money?

I suppose I should explain that question. It isn't intended to be snide or obnoxious. Consider that we perform because we love the music and the ideal would be to get paid a living wage for our performances. If our performances seem to conform to an acceptable norm would we strive to meet this norm in order to make that living wage? And if it looked as though we could actually make more than just a living wage, would we not work harder at ferreting out the secret that let us pursue that?

In answering my post please try to consider my comments in the perspective of real life, not the ideals that we espouse. In other words, think of turning to your spouse or life partner and saying, "I could have made $100,000 this year but I would have adulterated my principals."

07 Apr 01 - 01:27 PM (#435286)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Big Red

Feeling better already just knowing that there are people who still have respect for the "folk scare" artists. Sometimes its nice to know that your thinking isn't totally off base.

07 Apr 01 - 01:56 PM (#435294)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Lanfranc

I enjoyed KT's music and still sing some of their material. They didn't develop in the way that PP&M did (Album 1700 has no KT equivalent that I am aware of), but they did entertain and introduced some of us to material that others did better (Rambling Jack Elliot's version of "South Coast", for example).

But then, I liked Nina & Frederik, and the Spinners, and the Yetties and ..........

Alan (no purist)

07 Apr 01 - 02:11 PM (#435303)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Justa Picker

To shed a little more light on the Kingston Trio, here is a feature article on them, taken directly from Washburn and Johnston's Martin Guitar - An Illustrated History (1997) Understand that this book showcases not only Martin guitars and their history but also players who have made Martin guitars part of their equipment arsenal throughout their years of performing - but there are some interesting insights within the article. (I have edited out most of the really non relevant parts [Martin guitar talk and their instruments utilized], for the sake of brevity.)

"THE KINGSTON TRIO - Reluctant Folkies"

Bob Shane and fellow founding members Nick Reynolds and Dave Guard hadn't exactly been planning on continuity or being professionals when they started. Shane and banjoist Guard were high school friends from Hawaii who met up with tenor guitarist Reynolds while all were in college in Palo Alto, California. They sang for fun and got pretty good at it. In 1958 Phyllis Diller had to cancel a San Franciso club engagement, and the Kingston Trio got the last-minute gig filling in for her. A Capitol Records exec heard them that night, signed them, and the rest is history, though a rather skewed history.

Not very long after "Tom Dooley" put folk music at the top of the charts, it became hip to hate the trio, with purist folk fans deriding their untroubled music. Shane thought the whole argument ridiculous.

"To call the Kingston Trio folk singers was kind of stupid in the first place," he says. "We never called ourselves folk singers. We started off playing calypso music, and we took our name from Kingston, Jamaica, and to this day not one of us has ever been there. We did folk-oriented material, but we did it amid all kinds of other stuff. But they didn't know what to call us with our instruments, so Capitol Records called us folk singers and gave us credit for starting this whole boom. And we got a Grammy in the country category. Whatever they wanted to call us, that was fine as long as they paid us, too. We were all business majors in college."

Shane's musical career started with a koa wood ukulele (a love of that wood led him to custom order in the 1980s the first koa D-45 in Martin history), then he moved up to a Sears tenor guitar. In 1956 he was billed as Hawaii's Elvis Presley. It was around then that he met folk-blues-playing Josh White, in Hawaii for a club engagement.

"Josh White essentially taught me how to play the guitar," Shane says. "And then he was the one who talked me into a Martin. I'd seen most of the Hawaiian guys playing them - Gabby Pahinui usually played a OO. Josh White said that they last the best, that they had the best sound after you've played them for a while, and that they're constructed so they would take more of a beating than a Gibson would. And if in some of our early pictures you see that I've got double pick guards on the guitar, Josh White told me to do that, too. He said 'When you scratch up the top side too much, just put a pick guard over it', so that's what I did."

The Kingston Trio membership has varied over the years,with Shane being the only constant (Guard passed away in the early 1990s.) At this writing (1997) Shane, Reynolds, and two-decade vet George Grove, continue to entertain audiences everywhere except, evidently, in Kingston.

[end of edit]

07 Apr 01 - 03:19 PM (#435346)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Don Firth

The Kingston Trio was, indeed, a major force in precipitating the "Great Folk Scare" and introduced hordes of people to folk music who might never have discovered it without them. But one shouldn't forget that they stood on the shoulders of some giants who paved the way for them (to mix the hell out of a couple of metaphors!).

Burl Ives and Susan Reed were probably the best know folksingers prior to the Weavers. They weren't on the Hit Parade, but most people had heard them at one time or another on the radio and saw them in a movie or two. Then the Weavers burst on the scene. They were immediately popular, with Goodnight Irene, On Top of Old Smoky, and others pouring out of every jukebox in the country. Then they vanished from the pop scene because of the Blacklist. But they had set the stage (yet another metaphor). Shortly thereafter, along came Harry Belafonte, who also immediately caught the public's ear.

By then, and in many cases, before then, college kids had started singing folk songs -- and they were using records (Burl Ives, Weavers, Library of Congress, and others), and books by the Lomaxes and Carl Sandburg as sources. I was one of them, early on -- I started singing in 1952. Groups started forming, many of which were patterned after the Weavers. Perfect example, the Gateway Singers. Note that the Kingston Trio, when they first formed (here), included Barbara Bogue, and they called themselves the Calypsonians or the Kingston Quartet (a little Belafonte influence?).

No doubt the Kingston Trio pounced at just the right time. I liked a lot of the stuff they did. Some of it, however, really had me grinding my teeth, especially when they changed a song drastically just to pull off some smart-ass joke. Okay, fun is fun, but a lot of people thought that was the way folk music was supposed to be. But I definitely give them credit, and readily acknowledge that had it not been for them (or groups like them), I might not have had some of the singing jobs that I did.

But what really yanked my chain sometimes were the Kingston Trio fans. I learned Tom Dooley from a Frank Warner record, and I learned the Wreck of the Sloop John B. from Walt Robertson, and a number of other songs the Kingston Trio recorded long before anyone ever heard of the Kingston Trio and probably before they even met. Then -- to have someone tell me that I was singing the Sloop John B all wrong--!!!!

"That's not the way the Kingston Trio does it!"

See what I mean?

Don Firth

Thanks for the above post, Justa Picker. Bob Shane had it right. There's a lot of meat for discussion in what he says.

07 Apr 01 - 04:05 PM (#435361)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Irish sergeant

I came to be a musician in my thirties. I started listening to folk music at the tender age of four in 1959. And yes friend it was the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary. There are people who find it fashionable to bash both groups but I am not one of them. It's also fashionable in some circles to bash the Irish Rovers or whatever they're calling themselves now as not being authentic traditional Irish music. Again I'm not in that group. Music is a highly interperative medium just as writing is. I might not write tracts for the Aryan Brotherhood but I might for the Republican party even though I am not Republican. And yes, I expect to get paid. If you're getting free beer to sing, you're still getting paid. That's called commercialism. Talent deserves reward and music is a deversified, interpretive field. I say well done to the Kingston Trio. They got the brass ring and introduced a lot of us to Folk music. that is worth a place in history. And let's face it, they enjoy what they do. Just my $.02 worth. Kindest Reguards, Neil

07 Apr 01 - 06:11 PM (#435418)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history

Yes , I remember hearing Earl Scruggs play banjo some time after I first heard the Kingston Trio (Whom I still like a lot, regardless) doing "Boston MTA". I thought , until then, that one of them was good on the banjo break which it contained, but after Earl I realised just how limited it was.

07 Apr 01 - 06:58 PM (#435445)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Nancy King

Wow! This thread is like wallowing through my youth!

I loved the KT when I was in high school and still have most if not all of their LPs. And who didn't love Belafonte? When I got to college in 1960 I was introduced (by my then-roommate-still-best-friend Lois Lyman) to the Weavers, New Lost City Ramblers, Flatt & Scruggs, and lots of others whose music was simply more exciting and interesting than KT's. The Trio always sounded so pleasant and harmonious, no matter how grisly the murder they were singing about. The Weavers and NLCR put far more life into their music and also gave us just a little background on the songs. KT's popularity -- and our own familiarity with their material -- made it easy to introduce other stuff to people who liked their music.

Interestingly, my friends and I didn't think much of PP&M (whom we called Peter Paul and Mounds). Maybe it was because they came along after we'd already graduated to better stuff, and maybe it was that their manufactured image showed. Or both. But they drew still more folks into the folk fold, and bless 'em for that.

I also loved the Limelighters -- interesting and funny!

Cheers, Nancy

07 Apr 01 - 07:20 PM (#435459)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Joe Fogey

I remember the Kingston Trio as sort of clap along easy listening. Nothing wrong with that but they didn't exactly grab hold of you. Unlike, for instance, early Dylan or Joan Baez.

Joe F

07 Apr 01 - 07:29 PM (#435464)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: GUEST,ApparentDefense

The majority of young people back in the late 1950's-early 1960's ( myself included ) would never have heard The Weavers, Guthrie, Cisco or have sought out Lomax or any of the blues artists of the past.

Sure, they were commercial, Dave Guard's stage intros were straight out of Mort Sahl, but they were basically harmless fun and opened the door. Their 'Goin' Places' album was pretty good work. Check it out.

The thing that pissed most of the true folkies off was that they took Public Domain songs, changed them a bit and copyrighted them. THAT'S where the biggest chunk of their money came from. Song Royalties. Every time Andy Williams or Mitch Miller or Andre Kostelanitz recorded Tom Dooley, the Kingston Trio made moola off of it.

Is this a great country or what?

07 Apr 01 - 07:40 PM (#435472)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Rick Fielding

Well, for what it's worth, Sandy Paton told me that Frank Proffit, could never understand why he couldn't afford indoor plumbing, when everyone else was making millions from "his" song.

Maybe for Frank, it wasn't such a great country. (Royalty-wise, anyway)


07 Apr 01 - 08:38 PM (#435500)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: ray bucknell

I agree with the sentiments expressed at the beginning of this thread. The Kingston Trio opened many doors for other erstwhile "folksinging" groups, and they also introduced multitides to folk music. My particular favorite from the "folk era" (don't like the term "folk scare"), the Chad Mitchell Trio, was another group that was boxed into the category of "folksingers" because, with the success of the Kingstons, every record label had to have their own folk trio wearing matching outfits. The CMT were even less "folk" than the Kingstons - none of them played instruments and they often wore matching blazers and ties. "Button-down folk music" is how one non-admiring journalist described them. But they never called themselves folksingers either. For all their talent, and a repertoire than ran the gamut from political songs like "The John Birch Society" and "Barry's Boys" to Paxton's "Marvelous Toy," they never had a hit record. Many people are surprised to learn that it was the CMT who first recorded "Blowin in the Wind" commercially. Their record label at the time wouldn't allow them to release the song as a single (can't have a hit song with the word "death" in it, you know). Had Kapp Records (and its parent, Belafonte Enterprises) not been so narrow-minded, we'd be here discussing the Kingstons and the Chad Mitchell Trio, rather than the Kingstons and PP&M.

07 Apr 01 - 08:50 PM (#435503)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: katlaughing

My big sister, bet, helped raised me on the KT and Belafonte and I am glad of it. I used to steal her LPs and listen to them in my room. Still enjoy them both, along with PPM, though, since coming to Mudcat, I've learned so much about the "Sources" that I have a much broader range of folk that I listen to now. I was more of a rock and roll baby in the late 60's/early 70's anyway and much more into Dylan, the Doors, etc.:-) Still love MTA, Tom Dooley, Scotch and Soda and a bunch of others!

07 Apr 01 - 10:42 PM (#435546)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: kendall

Anyone remember the Pine Toppers? or The Highwaymen?

07 Apr 01 - 10:55 PM (#435556)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: John Hardly

I think the line crossed for me is an "adopted style". I may like songs or music anyway but pre-packaged music of any sort or any era does kind of make me feel duped.

Whether it's hats v no hats country, black clothed goth, spandexed 80's shit. I just never figured out why music has to "look" a certain way. It's a dead giveaway that you're being sold to instead of (in addition to) sung to.

08 Apr 01 - 08:15 AM (#435684)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history

As this discussion has broadened somewhat since it's inception , may I ask a question? Did I hear Doug Dillard claim from a concert stage, that he had been a member o f "The Byrds" at one time?

beachcomber (I seem to have lost my "card" for some reason)

08 Apr 01 - 09:58 PM (#436076)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: GUEST,seemingly cookieless paddymac

KT, PPM, the Limelighters mentioned by Nancy, the Chad Mitchell Trio, and many others served to collectively establish an audience for vocal harmoniies in the folk idiom. My personal tastes still lean toward groups with strong harmony singing. Thanks to all of them for brightening the lives of milions of people, even if only momentarily.

08 Apr 01 - 10:59 PM (#436104)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: mkebenn

I play "Remember the Alamo". Do I play it like KT3? No. Did I become aware of the song forty years ago because of KT3? Yes. And how can we have all this discusion without mentioning John Stewart, the only one I followed after? By the way, that was Shane on "Scotch and Soda". Mike

09 Apr 01 - 12:27 AM (#436144)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Big Red

Being in the mid-west, hardly a hot-bed of folk, are there many (any) vocal groups or duets on the current folk scene?

09 Apr 01 - 07:39 AM (#436232)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Naemanson

Quite a few duets, Lou & Peter Berryman, Loraine & Bennett Hammond, Pint & Dale, to name a few.

Larger groups are out there too. In the "big time" you've got groups like Altan, The Battlefield Band, Steeleye Span have been around for years. Out of the limelight there are small groups (3+ members) all over the place. I sing in a group of 6 myself.

09 Apr 01 - 09:03 AM (#436286)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: LR Mole the car today I was listening to the Lovin' Spoonful do "Never Goin' Back", a John Stewart song. I liked the Trio because they were literate without being snobs about it, and played guitars nonthreateningly, taking the pressure of trying to be Elvis off the twelve-year-old I was about then. They seemed sort of older-brotherish, and if they were a bit whitebread, at least they weren't pretending to be sharecroppers.Not '50's-slick-showbiz, but pro, and in tune. Gatekeepers, I suppose.

09 Apr 01 - 09:54 AM (#436318)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: GUEST,Midchuck upstairs

"Gatekeepers" is good. Says in one word what I tried to say earlier in several paragraphs.


09 Apr 01 - 09:58 AM (#436324)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Naemanson

Repeating myself: I liked 'em then, and I STILL like 'em.

09 Apr 01 - 10:24 AM (#436348)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: GUEST,Roll&Go-C

My brother and I certainly did our share of collecting KT albums, along with The Journeymen, Chad Mitchell Trio, the Limelighters and anything similar we could afford to get our hands on. However, we were raised on "folksongs" from people like Burl Ives, Bill and Gene Bonyun, Richard Dyer-Bennet, Tony Kraber, Carl Sandburg, Pete Seeger and a host of British music hall and drinking songs from other Long Island friends. The weird thing was that although we heard these songs at home in Maine at song parties, our friends at school never knew them and we would seldom hear anything on the radio remotely like them except for a few country programs. It was real fun when we got to college and other kids (at least some of them) were finally interested in singing "folksongs." That's when I became brave enough to start leading some of the songs myself. So, anyway, I'm glad that "folkmusic" became popular when it did so that I could join another generation learning to sing some of the old songs and contributing new songs to the process.

09 Apr 01 - 11:44 AM (#436411)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: GUEST,Carol's Friend Don

They provided the first real outlet for a host of songs written and performed by others, but not real popular on the folk circuit until the KT sang them. Some examples that come to mind:

The First Time, Green Back Dollar, Coal Tatoo, Scarlet Ribbons, Seasons in the Sun, Ruben James, Long Black Veil, Brown Mountain Light, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Kumbaya, and others to numerous to count. Maybe Frank Proffit didn't make any money, but a LOT of others did.

Most of us had never heard of Childe or the Lomaxes, and first heard what passed for folk songs while sitting around campfires in the late fifties and early sixties (in my case on the beaches of Hawaii). And then one day, one of my friends at school said "Did you hear what's happening on the Mainland? There are a bunch of guys who wear long hair like girls, and they call themselves the Bugs or something..." and it all faded away.

Three other points, The Highwaymen ("Micheal Row Your Boat" etc.) was the first time I heard an autoharp, (not real popular in Hawaii) and I,ve now been playing one for 35 years. I picked up my Vega Folk Ranger after hearing Dave Guard on "Darling Cory," in 1962 and never looked back (I'm sorry to hear that he died).

Finally, forgive me, but this might be the group that can answer a question I've posed before on the MudCat.

A couple of years after "Scotch and Soda" (a song I still do today) I heard a group my memory recalls as, the "Modern Folk Quartet". They had a song I believe was called "One Quick Martini," which was a sort of answer to "Scotch and Soda" (kind of like alternating verses from Dylan's "Don't Think Twice" with Paxton's " The Last Thing on My Mind" - try it).

The song spoke of two lovers, meeting in a cafe, ending their relationship with some "modern" convention, but a little regret, mixed with the concerns for the "proper way" to end things. My recollection is that the last line was something like:

"Thanks for the letter, The Scotch and the Brandy too, You knew the right thing to do,

Now it's looks like we're through...,

You see...

I have another rendezvous...

(I'd appreciate any help).

09 Apr 01 - 11:57 AM (#436420)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Maryrrf

Add me to the list of people who were introduced to folk music by the Kingston Trio and PPM. I think they deserve a place. It does seem like whenever I tell people I do folk music they immediately say "Oh, Peter Paul and Mary. Can you do Puff the Magic Dragon"? Speaking of that, has anyone ever heard the rumor that Puff the magic dragon was really about smoking pot? "Jackie Paper" was a strange name, was that alluding to rolling a joint? We had a debate about that in the offic one day.

09 Apr 01 - 12:54 PM (#436462)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: GUEST,Don Meixner

No Mary, never heard that........

I recently saw the Kingston Trio in concert. A first time for me. Only Shane was left of the original group. Dave Gurad having died not too long ago and Nick Reynolds too ill to tour anymore. George Grove played banjo and has for nearly twenty years and a member of the Brother Four rounded out the group. The distinctive sound was still there and with eyes closed you could swear that it was the Trio you first heard in 1959. I saw on stage a group of men who were consumate stage performers. They were able to take what was an oldies show and present it as a new performance. Their knowledge of stage craft was obvious and worth the price of admission alone. I am becoming more aware that Folksinger is a title I put on performers who probably don't view themselves that way. Pappa John Kolstadd told me once he wasn't a blues singer but an entertainer who chose to sing in a blues style. Does the Trio have a place in Folk history? Sure they do because what they did added to the mix. If Jimmy Rogers hadn't been so good himself he would have a place in history if only for the side men he used and gave work to. Louis Armstrong for one. Jimmy Rogers never considered himself a country singer and yet he is called the father of country music. Were they commercial? Anyone remember their Seven Up commercials? I don't care if they were or weren't, their commercial success gave eatting money to many songwriters who might have given up and become welders were it not for their success. Its a shame that Frank Proffit didn't get some income from Tom Dooley but that seems to be the nature of the bisniz at times. Unfair.


09 Apr 01 - 01:18 PM (#436481)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Jim the Bart

Two of the groups that got me started paying attention to acoustic music were the KT3 and the Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem. Both groups shared two characteristics that, I believe, "opened the door" to all kinds of music for me - they had incredible energy when they performed and they sang great, both as soloists and in harmony. They made the music accessible to people who didn't know about that kind of music and could care less about "authenticity". I still use the same yardstick that I learned listening to them, when I hear something (or someone)new: Does the music sound good and does is move me?

They were and are great.

09 Apr 01 - 01:45 PM (#436500)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: toadfrog

The story is of the old bluegrass musician who heard the Kinston Trio for the first time, and said, Hey! They are good, but they don't play the right notes!

The problem with Kingston Trio and many of their contemporaries is that they did not respect the music they played and so falsified it.

09 Apr 01 - 10:13 PM (#437017)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Bill D

I heard a bit of them 'back then', but I was up to my neck in a group that was doing some pretty traditional stuff, and KT and such just didn't interest me much. Sure, they were influential for awhile, and no doubt got some people playing, but THEY knew they weren't 'folk'..

No law against liking who & what you like...I just hope you will be careful what you call it, and realize that the most famous and well-paid groups were not necessarily the best, the most 'trad', or the most authentic. Even an old curmudgeon like me can enjoy a bit of that stuff occasionally, but I am aware of it's place and relevance,

09 Apr 01 - 11:07 PM (#437044)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Naemanson

Mary, I have heard the pot connection to Puff. I have also heard Peter Yarrow state categorically that he didn't write the song as anything but a depiction of childhood.

09 Apr 01 - 11:19 PM (#437054)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Jon Freeman

I must admit I had heard and believed the pot connection but check this post for what I would think it the true story.


12 Apr 01 - 11:00 AM (#439002)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: ray bucknell

Reading through this thread has underscored for me the fact the the old battle between the "purists" and the rest of us is still simmering. Since my introduction to folk music came via the "commercial" folk performers of the early 60s, I see no reason to disparage them. Sure, they tinkered with some traditional material to make it more accessible to modern audiences. Yes, they made money from the publishing on these arrangements. And no, they did not limit their material to songs of antiquity. What they did do was have a good time with their performances and let a lot of people in on the fun. To paraphrase Chad Mitchell, these groups have now vindicated themselves in the eyes of the purists because any song they might sing now about then IS a song of antiquity! Ray

12 Apr 01 - 02:05 PM (#439142)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: GUEST,ApparentDefense

This is for Carol's Friend Don and I hope this helps. The Modern Folk Quartet was Cyrus Faryar, late of Dave Guard & The Whiskeyhill Singers, Tad Diltz, aka Henry Diltz who made a name for himself photographing rock stars of the 60's and 70's, one of the Yester brothers-Jim or Jerry who had descended from the New Christy Minstrels/Jerry to The Association and Jim to the MFQ-could be vice versa, and I don't know the fourth member of the group. Might have been David "Buck" Wheat, the old Kingston Trio bass player.

THey did an album and the last I saw of them was at the old Cafe Wha? in the Village back in 1965 when they were trying out a folk-rock act. Can't recall the name although it's on the tip of my memory.

That's the last I ever heard of them. If you liked total bastardization of even the 'commercial' folk idiom, you'd have loved them. Great harmonies!

12 Apr 01 - 02:24 PM (#439150)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: mousethief

Folk artists tinkering with the music to make it fit the audience.

Nope, that never happened before the 1960's.


12 Feb 04 - 08:56 AM (#1114814)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: GUEST,Wanderhope

I'm not sure I know the protocol here in this list about reviving hibernating threads, but here goes anyhow ...
A few years ago (when Nick Reynolds was still touring with the Trio), I ran into Bob Shane in an antique mall in Stateville. NC (who would make something like this up?) I recognized him from having seen the group a few times in more intimate venues than when they were packing big amphitheaters. I introduced myself as a long-term fan, and he was gracious to chat a bit about the old days (the folk group I was in in high school sang everything from the KT that we could learn). Turns out Nick was there, too., He was on crutches and resting in the front of the big place. We met him as well, and got a KT cassette liner autographed. My big moment was reminding them that there were just about 25 miles from Wilkseboro, NC, where Tom Dula was buried.

One more penny from my 2 cents. I have always apreciated people who seemed to have a prety good sense of themselves. I have never thought the KT to offer themselves as more than they are or were. Dave Guard was like that, and John stewart when he was with the group as well. Their harmonies were simple, breathy, hearty and occasionally stirring. And we also remember that they weren't the only performers in those days that dressed alike.

12 Feb 04 - 09:28 AM (#1114833)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Allan C.

Thanks for the 2 cents, Wanderhope. For what it may be worth, I phoned Nick Reynolds a couple of years ago. I was trying to discover if he might have a translation of "Uta Wena". He came across as very warm and friendly despite my having phoned just as he was sitting down to a meal. Just a regular guy. To be honest, I gushed like a school girl. I suppose I've always held the KT on a rather lofty perch. But now, I was actually speaking with one of them! Unfortunately, Nick was of no help with the translation, saying, "That was such a long time ago."

12 Feb 04 - 11:06 AM (#1114899)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: jimmyt

I am in a group that pretty much exclusively plays KT3 and PPandM music with a smattering of Tom Paxton and Dylan, etc but their is a very appreciative audience for this music, we have found. I personally enjoy making people happy with music, so it is fun to perform this stuff to me. yes, we wear matching plaid shirts. yes it is hokey. It is entertainment! We have fun, they have fun, everyone is happy.

12 Feb 04 - 11:45 AM (#1114924)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Steve-o

This is a wonderful thread- worthy of being "revived". It is especially nice to be reminded that current day folk singers (Kendall, Rick, etc.) readily admit to the KT's influence on them. YES, the Kingston Trio has a place in the history books- it should be found under keywords "catalyst" and "fun". They were charming, talented, unassuming, and they caused many of us to look further into this wonderful world of folk singers and roots music. I think they also picked good songs- something that most of the lesser popular fokie groups didn't do- and for that reason should be hailed as the best of their ilk. And as for purists, they will always be around whining no matter which successful performer is being discussed. I'm with Kendall- "I'd much rather hear them sing Long Black Rifle than some 48 verse boring ancient ballad".

09 Mar 06 - 11:57 PM (#1689761)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Anonny Mouse

Back from the dead again-saw the topic in a batch of lyric requests, read thru it, blah blah. Maybe it's been hashed and rehashed too just wonderin' whatcha all think...

I read of Bob Shane's heart problem and his forced retirement after what-47 years as the vocal anchor of the KT. Reynolds is alive but has I guess had some hip replacement problems; Guard of course passed. Stewart is still writing-geez he turned out to be prolific-and in a Google search I see he's got a new CD just out. Kinda America's balladeer now...dunno. Anyways seems like with Shane, Reynolds and Stewart all still alive you'd think they'd deserve some kinda lifetime Grammy or something-like they just did at the Oscars for Altman. I think its best when the one(s) getting honored are around to accept it. So whaddya think? Maybe or maybe not a place in history (for ME definitely!-long story) but is there some kinda honor out there that would be appropriate? Anyone ever do anything like that for the Weavers or Seeger or Woody (I see where Springsteen is doing a tribute CD to Seeger-guess he turns 87 soon).

Seems like these guys at least deserve a nod and since there's no originals left in whos ever touring out there (Grove being the senior of the group now) SOMETHING should be done. I just got no idea from who or where? I know this place is pretty polarized on groups like the KT and PP&M and "gen-u-ine FOLK music"- but lotsa people said they'd never have gotton into the latter without the former.

10 Mar 06 - 09:03 AM (#1689961)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: GUEST,Ken Brock

The 2 hour radio program I did last month, including about 30 minutes conversation with Bob Shane (from Jan 11, 2006) is archived at, under the heading "Read, Look and Listen". I hope to do a second interview soon.

10 Mar 06 - 12:34 PM (#1690100)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Anonny Mouse

Thanks Mr. Brock...forgot about that. Did (does) Bob ever mention the lack of any recognition these days? He was kinda self-deprecating in the comments from the Martin folks above. Wonder if he's changed his outlook now that hes stopped touring and is relegated to just the memories, which surely must be many! Again-be nice to honor these guys while 3 of 'em are still with us.

10 Mar 06 - 02:33 PM (#1690189)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Steve-o

Wonderful interview, except the interviewer keeps stepping on Bob's toes, cutting his stories short, changing the subject, etc. He tells a great anecdote about learning guitar from Josh White, and the interviewer doesn't respond with any enthusiasm about that, just trucks on to the next planned question. Whaaaa??? On Interview No. 2, could you please let him ramble a little more?? He's a wonderful storyteller, and remembers all the details and background stories- just let him go!

10 Mar 06 - 03:32 PM (#1690230)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Anonny Mouse

Hey Steve-o-gotta agree having listened. I was also curious about the Guard departure, which Shane touched on but no follow up. Yer right--the guys a natural born storyteller. Let him run with it next time. My 2 cents. Too much interviewer intervention. But nice to have anyway.

10 Mar 06 - 03:44 PM (#1690239)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history

To Anonny - Self deprecation has always been a part of the KT humor - see "Coming from the Mountains", and intro to "Shady Grove/Lonesome Traveler", among others. There was very little conversation other than what's on the archive - just setting up connections.

To Steve - Thanks for the recommendation.   There were numerous times where I had to choose from multiple possible directions on the spot, and obviously didn't choose the one you would have gone with at that moment. Re Josh White, I will bring him up again and have some of his music handy in case Bob has a favorite track, as I did with Stan Wilson and Travis Edmonson last time. I didn't think on the spot of anything particular to ask re Josh White - will also try to let Bob expound where he wants. The sequence of topics was not preplanned - I had about 30 potential topics and song sequences in mind and had little idea going in knowing which we would get to, but knew I'd be lucky to get to a third of them. If I did not cut to songs frequently, the interview would have been limited to 12 minutes total. With luck, I'll be allowed to do more (I'd like to do 6 or 8 with Mr. Shane, but that is wishful thinking) of these programs that are 1/4 talk and 3/4 music.

10 Mar 06 - 03:58 PM (#1690244)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: Steve-o

Thanks to Ken for a nice response- and I really wasn't trying to be snotty (hope I didn't sound that way). Please, please make it known to Mudcat when Interview #2 takes place- I will surely listen with great pleasure.

10 Mar 06 - 05:21 PM (#1690293)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: GUEST,Allen in Oz

I was not aware that Dave Guard died in the 1990s...all very sad. He lived in Australia for some time (Whale Beach near Sydney I think) . Their version of Greenback Dollar was excellent

12 Mar 06 - 01:55 PM (#1691343)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history

So I takes it from the responses or lack thereof you folks think this group deserves NO FORMAL RECOGNITION AT ALL???? C'mon. Who here doesn't owe SOMETHING TO the KINGSTON TRIO, EH? (Yes I'm a Cannuck!). Up here in Alberta...where men are men and winters turn some men into women hahahaha...(just kidding you men and WOMEN)...that KT GROUP made many a folklorest and player and devotee. I say give 'em a lifetime achievement or something. You ever see how many of your tunes go BACK to them, or what they DID with them? EH? EH?

07 Feb 16 - 05:05 PM (#3771244)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: keberoxu

My parents' generation grew up with Dave-Guard-vintage Kingston Trio albums in the house. When I was little and these albums were played, I thought the Tahitian songs were a hoot..."aue tangni tangni tika ke aue..." the trio sang them deep in the chest, very macho sounding, booming, and pounding on the drums. Someday, I said to myself, I'm gonna find out what that means.

Still haven't found out, though.

I like those early albums now, largely because the producer, bless him, did not squash them up against a studio orchestra arrangement, but just let the three of them unleash that onstage energy and channel it into the microphones. Purist, impure, or what have you, these performances are a good lesson in the kind of enthusiasm it takes for three guys by themselves to grasp, and hold, the attention of an audience.
The term "gatekeeper" has much wisdom to it. So these performances do not issue from the sanctum sanctorum, the holy of holies, all the way inside the metaphorical temple? So be it: the job of "gatekeeper" is not so easy. You have to be energetic and focused, you have to present a great deal within a really short time span so as to leave a lasting impression.

What I like best is that enthusiasm and energy. It makes me sad to read earlier messages in this thread, how a later KT incarnation was jaded and hardened; but, that sort of thing happens.

Oh, and if I ever DO find out what those Tahitian lyrics mean, you guys at the café will be the first to know.

07 Feb 16 - 05:33 PM (#3771250)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: keberoxu

Okay, this is as far as I got:

Aue Tangni Tangni Tika is by Eddie Lund.

Toerua, the fast part of the medley, is by George Archer and his Pagans. (no I did NOT make that up)

These were recorded by the Kingston Trio on Capitol Records, on the album, Sold Out.

I still can't find a translation.

07 Feb 16 - 06:20 PM (#3771254)
Subject: RE: Kingston trio--a place in history
From: keberoxu


Marcel Rene George Archer Ceran was born in Tahiti in 1906.
paraphrase: he first emigrated to Los Angeles, and from there to Hawaii, where he married a Hawaiian lady. There he formed the band George Archer and his Pagans. Nicknamed "Tautu."

You can listen to his "Toerau" on youtube, and it is just as energetic as the Kingston Trio version. (made me laugh)