Re: KT, From The Outside Looking In (long!)
Well stated Beau. Thanks!
I've been a fan of the Trio all of my life (all of The Trio's life, I should say). I grew up to their music in San Francisco. I got that "Live At The Hungry I" album as a boy and I WORE THAT SUCKER OUT to where it got scratchy beyond listening to! I've always tended to lean towards the "Live In Person" stuff - one particular favorite, featuring John Stewart, was their humorous version of (The Streets Of) "Laredo?"
I never got to see the original two line-ups, or the "New KT" of the '70s either, though I never missed a TV appearance, nor missed getting their albums. I first saw Bob Shane's "revival act" with George Grove and Roger Gambill ("revival acts" is what I call groups that have continued on past their most successful days with more new members than founders - in fact, plenty with no "founders" at all) - I saw them twice at the "Cal-Neva Casino" on Lake Tahoe's North Shore, and once at the Fairmont Hotel in S.F... They were GREAT! From the first note, the energy coming from the Trio was like a tsunami! Exciting! Grove brought exceptional musicianship to the group, and Gambill was perfect, obviously enjoying what he was doing, and funny during the dialogues. A funny incident (I'm sure Mr. Grove would recall) occurred the 2nd time I saw them at the "Cal-Neva". George obviously got a hold of a bad batch of banjo strings, because he broke one in the middle of a song, and the percussive rhythm disappeared without it, sort of like a drummer falling off his stool. He had to stop and put a new one on. A short while later, a 2nd string broke! Damn! What an unexpected pleasure for George. I wouldn't have even recalled the incident if this hadn't also taken another turn for the worse - it happened again!!! A gob-smacked George screamed out, "I broke two - two strings at once!". As he was busily replacing strings 3 and 4, Bob Shane quipped "I think we've enjoyed about all of this we can stand"!
In '85 I saw in the San Francisco Chronicle that Roger Gambill was hospitalized, and a short time later that he had died at the age of 42. One of my old pals was a writer for the Chronicle, so we got comp tickets to the Fairmont anytime we wanted. I then saw the Trio, with "Brothers Four" member Bob Haworth, twice - the group didn't miss a beat - they replaced one competent entertainer with another, and the shows were wonderful. Great energy! I later saw this edition at the Concord Pavillion with the original Limelighters + Red Grammer, and the memory that stands out was the presentation of "Raspberries, Strawberries" by Grove-Haworth - it was the highlight of the show for me.
Nick Reynolds then rejoined the group and Haworth apparently went back to the Brothers Four. I saw Nick's KT version three times, (1) Circle Star Theater w/ Original Limelighters + Rick Dougherty, (2) Alameda County Fair (Nick made us all laugh when he looked over the audience and said, "Gee, everybody looks so OLD!"), and (3) At "Harrah's" in Reno. Shane and Reynolds were drinking at the bar right outside the showroom afterwards, in their striped shirts, very approachable - it felt good to be able to tell them how much I loved their group, something they, of course, heard quite often.
Quite a few years passed before I found myself in Vegas when the Trio had a performance at the (I believe, not certain) "South Point Hotel & Casino". There was George Grove, but no Shane, no Haworth, no Reynolds. There was Dougherty from the Limeliters, and a fellow who had joined Shane's "New Kingston Trio" back in '73, Bill Zorn (also in The Limeliters just before coming back to the Trio). I, personally, didn't take to this guy, but the band still maintained very good energy, and they had two performers who went back more than 40 years with the Trio. The highlight of the show was the appearance of Bob Shane, with oxygen-tank in hand, to sing "Scotch & Soda" and "Tom Dooley" for us! It was a satisfying show.
In 2018 I had the opportunity to see a presentation of a "Spotlight On The Kingston Trio tribute" show in Talent, Oregon, featuring Bob Haworth with two local musicians, John Hollis and Andrew Brock - truthfully, this performance was as enjoyable as all the KT shows I had attended. The song selection was perfect, loaded with the best of the Trio, and performed professionally.
"An ill wynd, that blowth no man to good"...
I've been reading about the strange trials & tribulations of the group ever since then. From here on, this is just based on what I've picked up from reading news and comments from various sources on the internet, mostly (if any of this is inaccurate, please chime in). First, I'd like to channel Harry S. Truman's quote "The buck stops here" by saying my impression is that the source of the current chaotic situation had to start with the Shanes. Bob had a group that did his trademark justice, a group that, to this date, had nearly 100 years between them in starting dates with the revival Trio. Somehow (as I've read), The Shanes were convinced to lease their trademark for 10 years to a group of guys who started up a trio which included Nick Reynolds' son, Josh, and a fellow who had been around the Reynolds since his youth, Mike Marvin (the marketing states he is an adopted son of Nick's and/or cousin of Josh, neither of which is actually the case, I've since discovered). The figure mentioned has been $100,000 for a 10-year-lease. The third member, Tim Gorlangton, played with Nick Reynolds & John Stewart, at some point in his past, his bio states. Meanwhile, this all ended up in court, because the Grove-Zorn-Dougherty edition was still out playing gigs. So, with all that history suddenly down the drain for G-Z-D, they (minus Zorn) have moved on to start, with ex-Diamonds lead singer Jerry Siggins (this guy is GOOD!), a group called "The Folk Legends". I've only seen their YouTube videos, but they are really a fine group..... So, here we have Nick Reynolds' boy and two other "connected" players going out as the Kingston Trio. IMHO, the few vids I saw on YouTube were markedly unimpressive..
Next, I drove to Talent, OR to see Haworth's tribute act, and came away impressed. They opened strong with "Hard, Ain't It Hard", and "Three Jolly Coachman" (the Trio's first release, and close to being my fav Trio number - I especially remember their old 7-Up commercial using this song!). The tribute captured the intensity and excitement of the other Trio performances I'd been to. Real pros.
"An ill wynd, that blowth no man to good"
I saw that the new Trio was booked into the Cascade Theater in Redding CA, so I headed up there to see it. Meanwhile (this stuff is picked up from various spots on the Cyber Highway), Josh Reynolds, the only ACTUAL justification for handing the trademark to these new 'stalwarts' (aside from the 100 grand, in my humble view), had a major falling out with Marvin-Gorlangton that has led to a restraining order from Marvin on Reynolds (I read that in one of the threads somewhere). So, the blood connection was gone, and there was Bob Haworth up there in Josh's place after a 10-year hiatus, as professional and entertaining as ever. I also went up to Grants Pass OR to see them again. What follows is my personal impression (in my humble view, nobody else's) of what I saw in Redding and Grants Pass (I've been a working musician all my adult life, so that would color my impressions).
Tim Gorlangton: This banjo player has abilities, but he does have occasional problems with rhythm and missed notes. His singing is pleasant. He's no George Grove (not to mention Dave Guard), but most of the audience wouldn't notice.
Bob Haworth: He clearly brings some professional experience to the new Trio, but that was well-established long ago by Bob Shane, himself. He has a somewhat "husky" singing voice. I saw that being disparaged elsewhere here, but I humbly disagree. The Trio was never "The 3 Tenors" to begin with, and I feel his style/character is very well-suited to the group's sound. In fact, I saw him singing "Scotch & Soda" on YouTube, and though that song is Bob-Shane-plus-tax, Haworth has the kind of voice that is suited for the song, more so than Bill Zorn or Mike Marvin. I feel it requires a bit of "grit", or "Blues", which Bob Shane and Bob Haworth have, and Zorn-Marvin don't. An analogy to explain my impression: John Denver really couldn't have sold "Wonderful World" very well, and Louis Armstrong would sound funny singing "Rocky Mountain High". Haworth was a good fit in the Shane years, and still is.
Mike Marvin: My impression, after watching the two shows, was that he seemed in over-his-head. His sense of timing on guitar is poor, struggling with meter (particularly at Grants Pass). His singing is fine (except for "Scotch & Soda") and on pitch. He has a tendency to ramble on in his speeches between songs, challenging old folks' attention spans (Shane was WAY BETTER at this, and so was Zorn). I had the impression he was drunk or sickly (maybe neither, maybe both). In Redding, the 80-year old guy behind me said to me "I think that guy in the middle is drunk - he seems to be having problems"). I don't like being negative, but honestly, Mike is the weakest link I've seen in my Trio-watching days. The "cash behind the curtain" guys probably would've been better off finding a way to join Josh with Grove and Zorn in the previous line-up, filling his Dad's spot....but then....there's the money. After all is said and done, this has to be the major issue for the way this has played out.
Looking at the current Trio, from the outside-looking-in, from the two performances I went to: First, I was very disappointed in the song selection. For the Kingston Trio to perform two John Stewart tunes from his solo years, along with "Desert Pete", "Bimini" and "Roddy Corley", while leaving out "Hard, Ain't It Hard", "Three Jolly Coachmen", "Zombie Jamboree", and "They Call The Wind Maria" - well, as a long-time fan, I was very disappointed that they'd written these classics out of the songlist - maybe they should extend the show, and cover both lists..... One thing I enjoyed about the previous groups mentioned above, was their "attack". They came out strong, and it was thrilling, usually opening with "Hard...", and "...Coachmen". Intensity was there! Now, the current group is gathered around a single microphone, which doesn't serve this edition well. Even Shane had each man with his own two mics - it makes for a better balance, and adds intensity to what is otherwise (my feeling) a lack in the new edition's musical make-up.
To be fair, the audience seemed, for the most part, to be satisfied - the group's harmony-singing was good. The reception was a little lukewarm in Grants Pass, but better in Redding which, on the whole, was a better performance and, mostly, netted a standing ovation (with all of the other above line-ups, including the tribute-act, I always witnessed enthusiastic standing ovations) .....so, what's really going on here? Visualize my eyeball creating a cartoon-dotted-line to the fact of "$100,000 for 10 years"! That seems to be LARGE in the core of this apple, which seems to be rotting a bit. Whose money was this? One would be left to conclude that it wasn't very likely to be Josh Reynolds (the principle 'non-monetary' justification for this weird scenario), or I'd venture to say we'd have seen Josh possibly join up with Grove & Zorn. The money is behind Marvin-Gorlangton, obviously. There's so much we, the general public, don't know about what's going on behind the curtain. Shall it remain so?
To close, my feeling (again, from the outside, as most of us are) is that Grove-Zorn-Dougherty got screwed (by a group with a blood tie to the founders, who then is removed from the line-up) that aren't in their league (though Haworth is real solid, and whose debut was about 35 years ago). This has to be traced back to the Shanes and the money guys, whomever they may be. The buck stops there, does it not? This would sure make a peculiar chapter in "The book of Trio".
cherchez la cash-ola!
- KT, From The Outside Looking In (long!) - Beau Jackson 1/8/2019, 5:16 pm
- Re: KT, From The Outside Looking In (long!) - Woody Bowles 4/6/2019, 4:57 pm
- Re: KT, From The Outside Looking In (long!) - Robert 1/9/2019, 7:32 pm
- Re: KT, From The Outside Looking In (long!) - SueSP 1/8/2019, 10:37 pm
- Re: KT, From The Outside Looking In (long!) - pto 1/8/2019, 8:03 pm
- Re: KT, From The Outside Looking In (long!) - Josh Fuller 1/8/2019, 5:55 pm
- Re: KT, From The Outside Looking In (long!) - Rick Daly 1/8/2019, 5:37 pm
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