Talk about a long, strange trip. It's now been better than 40 years that The Kingston Trio has been on the road. With guitars and banjos in hand, these veterans of the folk music wars have been making a joyful noise across every inch of this country and around the world since 1958. But these guys aren't just some tired old traveling oldies show. Their good humor and endless enthusiasm turns every gig into a party.
Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds and the late Dave Guard joined forces while in college near San Francisco and became huge when their brand of good-time folk music struck a chord during the Eisenhower years. The first single, "Tom Dooley," sold several million copies and was followed by hit tune after hit tune.
They were seen as a clean-cut alternative to the more radical and politically inclined folk artists of the day. But it was certainly their trailblazing efforts into the entertainment mainstream that opened the doors for Dylan, Baez, Ochs and many other folkies to find larger audiences beyond the confines of a few Greenwich Village clubs.
After several years of success, Guard left the band and was replaced by longtime Valley favorite John Stewart. Today's Trio consists of Shane, Reynolds and the new kid, George Grove, who has only been with the band for about 25 years.
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A lot of the Kingston's signature songs are the kind you know by heart without quite knowing where they came from. They've been part of your subconscious for all these years. How many times have you hummed ". . . did he ever return? No, he never returned and his fate is still unlearned . . ."? You just sang "MTA," which they first recorded in 1959. Any time you sing along to the Beach Boys chanting, ". . . let me go home. I waannna go home . . ." from "Sloop John B," that's another old fave that the Boys learned off the first Kingston Trio album. How about these lines:
"Scotch and soda/Mud in your eye/Baby do I feel high/Oh me, oh my . . ."
Somehow that song, "Scotch and Soda," is rarely thought of as a Trio classic, even though Bob Shane's been singing those words since before a lot of his audience was born.
The Kingston Trio is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday, December 1; and the same time Thursday, December 2, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. For details call 480-994-2787 (SCA) or 480-784-4444 (Ticketmaster).