Ian & Sylvia – Live At The Hollywood Bowl – Folk Night – 1965 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
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Ian & Sylvia in concert at the Hollywood Bowl tonight. Another one of the acts from the 1965 Folk Night At The Bowl. This one, as is announced by Bowl announcer Carl Princi, is their first-ever Bowl appearance.
The two started performing together in Toronto in 1959. By 1962, they were living in New York City where they caught the attention of manager Albert Grossman, who managed Peter, Paul and Mary and would soon become Bob Dylan’s manager. Grossman secured them a contract with Vanguard Records and they released their first album late in the year.
Their first album, self-titled Ian & Sylvia, on Vanguard Records consists mainly of traditional songs. There were British and Canadian folk songs, spiritual music, and a few blues songs thrown into the mix. The album was moderately successful and they made the list of performers for the 1963 Newport Folk Festival.
Four Strong Winds, their second album, was similar to the first, with the exception of the inclusion of the early Dylan composition, “Tomorrow is a Long Time”, and the title song “Four Strong Winds”, which was written by Ian Tyson. “Four Strong Winds” was a major hit in Canada and ensured their stardom. Years later, the song was named as the greatest Canadian song of all time by the CBC-Radio program 50 Tracks: The Canadian Version.
The two married in June 1964; they also released their third album, Northern Journey, that year. It included a blues song written by her, “You Were on My Mind”, which was subsequently recorded by both the California group We Five (a 1965 #1 on the Cashbox chart, #3 on the Billboard Hot 100) and British folk rock singer Crispian St. Peters (#36 in 1967). A recording of “Four Strong Winds” by Bobby Bare made it to #3 on the country charts around that time.
On the Northern Journey album was the song “Someday Soon”, a composition by Ian Tyson that would rival “Four Strong Winds” in its popularity. (Both songs would eventually be recorded by dozens of singers.)
Their fourth album, Early Morning Rain, consisted in large part of new songs. They introduced the work of the couple’s fellow Canadian songwriter and performer Gordon Lightfoot through the title song and “(That’s What You Get) For Lovin’ Me”. They also recorded songs “Darcy Farrow” by Steve Gillette and Tom Campbell, being the first artists to record these three songs. Additionally, they recorded a number of their own compositions.
They performed at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Play One More, their offering of 1965, showed a move toward the electrified folk-like music that was becoming popular with groups like the Byrds and the Lovin’ Spoonful. The title tune used horns to evoke the mariachi style.
They relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, where they recorded two albums; one to fulfill the terms of their Vanguard contract, the other to supply MGM with a second (and last) album for that label. The albums can be defined as early country rock music; Nashville for Vanguard was cut in February 1968, one month before The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, widely considered the first collaboration of rock and Nashville players. Three of Bob Dylan’sBasement Tapes songs are included on their Nashville albums; most of the rest were written by Ian or Sylvia.
By 1975, Ian & Sylvia had stopped performing together and soon afterwards were divorced. Their final appearance as a duo was in May 1975 at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto.
As a refresher course in artists you may have missed the first time around, or as a reminder – here is Ian & Sylvia at their first Hollywood Bowl appearance in 1965.