The Kingston Trio – live at the No on 14 Rally – Hollywood Bowl – October 4, 1964 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
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With the sad news that founding member of The Kingston Trio, Bob Shane passed away on January 26th, I was reminded just how popular this group was from the late 1950s through to the mid 1960s. As much as Folk Music was considered something of an “outsider” or niche genre, The Kingston Trio, along with The Brothers Four, The Limelighters and several other groups, achieved major mainstream popularity with Folk Music and garnered a certain hip-appeal among college students and early-late twenty-somethings just at the very tip of what would become the British Invasion. In Britain it was Skiffle, a hybrid of Folk which had the same appeal and much the same roots. In the U.S. mainstream folk was presentable and very clean – although much of the material relied on double-entendre – it was a musical Bob Newhart versus Lenny Bruce (to get an idea of contrasts) as to how this brand of Folk material compared to say, Joan Baez or Buffy St. Marie.
The Kingston Trio appealed to a broad swath of record buying public. Even my parents, who were hardcore Big-Band fans bought all the early Kingston Trio albums – filling the house with strains of MTA and Tom Dooley.
This concert, which has never been issued in any form and was only available in its entirety on this site a few years ago, was a political rally for No On Proposition 14, a ballot measure in the upcoming election that had much to do with the state of segregation in neighborhoods in California. Joining the Trio were a veritable galaxy of artists and personalities, of which The Kingston Trio came on second, following Henry Mancini’s opening. They are introduced by Dick van Dyke and it all happened on October 4, 1964. If you didn’t hear the whole concert, here is The Kingston Trio’s portion and you’re hearing it here first.
Bob Shane was the last surviving member of the Trio, the others; Nick Reynolds passed away in 2008. Dave Guard in 1991 and John Stewart (who replaced Guard in 1961), in 2008. An era has come to an end. Perhaps they aren’t remembered well now – even forgotten in some quarters, but there was a time when The Kingston Trio were one of the most popular and recognized groups in America. And they made a dent – and they paved the way for Folk-Rock to evolve in the mid-1960s.
We can’t forget who helped get us where we are today, and Bob Shane was one of the guides.
It was fun while it lasted.