Here's one by a friend from Southern California who just sent it to me.A solid work.
Kingston Trio (Folk Reunion with John Sebastian) Cerritos, California. November 11, 2017.
Kingston Trio General Comments: Based on the Crossroads website comments, I had pretty low expectations. I have to admit that the performance was better than I expected. The vocal and musical performance was not up to the George-Bill-Rick standards, of course. It would be perhaps unfair to expect that. However, the overall quality was good and they looked and sounded like professionals.
The group’s focus was on entertaining the crowd, while the most recent GBR performance I attended (March 2015) was straight performing with some commentary between the songs. Lots of interaction at this concert between the members, and some clowning by Josh. It went over well with the crowd. Lots of sing-alongs, etc. Everyone seemed pleased and happy leaving the theater.
The Cerritos Center was not full, but the crowd was active and enthusiastic. I enjoyed myself as well. The 2015 GBR concert was better musically, but the crowd seem to have a much better time at this concert. John Sebastian did a very good job as the opening act and really warmed up the crowd. The 2015 GBR concert was a matinee with no warm-up act. While there were lots of seniors in both concerts, they were much more lively here.
Specific positives and negatives about this concert are noted below. Comments about the playlist are below.
1) Professional level vocals. Tim in particular has a fine voice.
2) Lots of interaction among the trio.
3) Lots of stories and gags (more about that later). You can tell that they have put a lot of time effort and rehearsals into this.
4) Very high energy performance. They worked very hard during the performance and it showed.
5) They did appear to be enjoying themselves.
6) Fairly long playlist of 20 songs, including the mandatory songs Flowers, Tom Dooley, and MTA. Lots of music.
7) Paul Gabrielson was there. He was selling CDs in the lobby and he saw my KT orange tee-shirt. He asked if I was in Arizona. I said no, that he did not know me, but thanked him anyway. Good to see he is still involved.
8) They gave Paul two lines to sing in “The Merry Minuet”. Paul is no singer, but it went over well. Fun thing for them to do.
9) In “The Merry Minuet”, there was a little joke about the changing world situation and “we know something about changing personnel”. I don’t remember the exact line, but it worked. Few got the joke of course.
10) Outstanding job on several songs. They have added “Roddy McCorley”, and that was their best performance of the night.
11) Mike did a good job on “Scotch and Soda”. He blew a vocal note big time near the end, but it happens to everyone from time to time.
12) Josh let everyone know that he was Nick’s son, and played up the family connections. But he handled it well and did not overplay it. They included “Hobo’s Lullaby”, one of Nick’s favorites and a lullaby for his family. It is not one of my favorites, but I appreciated the sentiment and they did a good job with it.
13) Fun evening.
1) The “one mike” gimmick did not work well at all. Most of the time, Tim was on the left (for the audience facing the stage), Mike in center and Josh on the right. Tim is very tall and looks at least a foot taller than Josh. Vocals were occasionally inaudible, particularly on Tim, who has the best voice. Everybody crowding around the mike looks like three guys in a too small elevator. Tim was usually too far away from the mike,
2) Instruments were often too loud, drowning out the vocals. Very hard strumming, too hard I think, especially on the first two songs. Maybe the amp was too high. The engineer might have adjusted it, since it seemed to get better as the concert went on. Either that, or I got used to it.
3) Related to that, at times it seems like the trio was just shouting at the mikes and not really singing. The first song is “Hard Travelin”, which is a terrific song. They were just banging on the instruments and shouting at the mike. I thought, oh oh, this is going to be a bad evening. I listened to the original song on the way home and the difference was astronomical. Also, on some of the recorded live versions of “Greenback Dollar”, the original trio shouted the line beginning “Well I don’t give a damn about a Greenback dollar”. These guys did the same, and they should have done it without the shouting. Did not work well this time.
4) The other really substandard vocal was on John Stewart’s “California Bloodlines”. It was either mediocre or just poor. Listen to John’s version instead.
5) The jokes and banter was a little forced and somewhat juvenile at times. I have a sense of humor, but some of it seemed a little too scripted. It wasn’t horrible, but it was not Dave Guard level humor to be sure.
6) One strange thing was the interaction between the trio. Josh and Mike were really chummy, but Tim seemed to be a bit of an outsider and a little ignored. I kind of felt bad for Tim. Maybe I am wrong, but it looked like two best friends in grade school, with a third kid hanging around trying to be part of the group.
7) All the sing-alongs were fun, but I thought there was a little too much of that. It helped pep up the crowd, but I came to hear the Kingston Trio, not the guy in the next seat.
8) At one point, Josh mentioned that Bob Shane is alive and well and living in Phoenix. He also said that Bob “bequeathed the Kingston Trio name to us”. From what I heard, that is not quite accurate. John Stewart’s name was mentioned only in passing, and given the playlist I would have expected al little more.
9) No mention of Dave Guard, George-Bill-Rick, or of most of the others. Since they were playing off the legacy angle, I think some acknowledgement of the others would be in order. Given what has happened, I was not expecting anything and not surprised.
10) A minor point perhaps. The name of the city in which the concert was performed is Cerritos. On four or five occasions, Tim referred to it as either “Los Cerritos” or “El Cerrito”. People laughed and no one was upset. So did I, especially since he kept doing it. Not an issue, just a clean-up item.
The playlist is below. Everyone has their own preferences, of course. My opinion and everyone else’s are equally valid. 20 songs is a good number (my last KT concert had 15 songs even without an opening act). For my part, I was thrilled with the addition of Roddy McCorley and Reuben James. This was Veteran’s Day weekend in the United States, and Reuben James may have been added because of that. They did a fair, but not great version of Reuben James, so it may have been under rehearsed. I don’t care for the Merry Minuet or the Ballad of Shapes of Things, but again that is just me.
I do question some of the selections though. Four of the twenty were not Kingston Trio songs. Three were from John Stewart’s later solo career (You Can’t Look Back, Anna on a Memory and California Bloodlines). I would have selected some different John Stewart songs if they wanted to go down that route. I love John’s solo material but it is not KT material. The first encore, “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” is just a general peace/protest song that does not really fit with the KT. If they wanted more material, there are literally a hundred other KT songs they could have (or should have) included. It is just my view, but the group called “Kingston Trio” should do Kingston Trio songs. Outside material is OK for sing-alongs with other groups, but I think they strayed out of bounds. But all in all the evening was better than I expected.
Kingston Trio Song Listing.
You Can’t Look Back (John Stewart song)
Ah Woe, Ah Me
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
Anna on a Memory (John Stewart)
California Bloodlines (John Stewart)
Scotch and Soda (Mike Marvin solo)
Ballad of the Shapes of Things
I’m Going Home (California)
Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream
This Land Is Your Land
: I would like to get an unbiased opinion of a
: concert by the Josh Trio if someone attends,
: hopefully they are getting better.
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