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Ch. 04: The Kingston Trio – Beginning of the Second Wave


Buying Back America’s Trust

The synonymity which existed in the mind of the average American between folk-singers and subversives was formed first by the pro-union rallies of the late ‘30s and then solidified by the McCarthy hearings in the ‘50s. However just the causes of the folk-singers were, guilt by association was the measuring stick by which folk-singers in the mid ‘50s were ostracized. The voices of Seeger and others were banned from the stage of public awareness.

The dichotomous nature of folk music has always existed; on one hand functioning as entertainment for the common man, and on the other, attempting to bring about awareness at least, and if at all possible, cause agitation towards change.

When Guthrie and Seeger’s messages became too focused on songs of social concern, America turned its ear away. It took a trio of young, clean-cut, all-American college boys dressed in matching shirts to buy back America’s trust in folk music.

The Kingston Trio

Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds, and Dave Guard met in college in San Francisco in 1957 and began singing and playing in local coffee houses. At the time, the interest in things Caribbean, made popular by Harry Belafonte (“Day-oh”), influenced the trio to take their name from the Jamaican city.

Although their first record in 1958 contained Woody Guthrie’s “Hard Ain’t It Hard,” it was their cover of a North Carolinian ballad about the 1868 hanging of an innocent man, Tom Dula, which brought them national exposure. The song, “Tom Dooley,” was their first and only #1 hit song and propelled them into the limelight on radio and television programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show.

Their appearance at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival was received with mixed reviews by the hardcore folk activists; their squeaky clean look, pop sound, and entertainment based lyrics were in stark contrast with most of the other performers.

During the next five years, The Kingston Trio had 17 songs in the Hot 100 chart, including “M.T.A.” (about a man stuck on the Boston transit system because he didn’t have the nickel to get off); “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” in 1962; and “Greenback Dollar” and “Reverend Mr. Black” in 1963.

Their politically sterilized sound, which was based on innocuous entertainment folk music, opened the doors for other groups like The Highwaymen and The Limelighters. In spite, or perhaps, because of the bland pop image projected by these groups, mainstream America once again trusted folk musicians and their offerings of ballads and novelty songs.

By the time they had disbanded in 1968, The Kingston Trio had recorded over thirty albums which ran the gamut from Dylan (a cover of “Blowin’ in the Wind”) to musical theatre’s Lerner and Loewe (“They Call the Wind Maria” from the musical Paint Your Wagon).

Although their song output was definitely focused on the entertainment side of the folk music spectrum, it played a crucial role in the unfolding of folk music in the middle part of the 20th century. Their songs and performances were an important step in paving the way for the second wave of songwriters who were about to appear with topically oriented songs of social concern.

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Study Units

An Overview

Ch. 1: Understanding Pitch

Ch. 2: Understanding Musical Pulse

Ch. 3: Understanding Volume

Ch. 4: Understanding Tone

Ch. 5: Understanding Melody

Ch. 6: Understanding Harmony

Ch. 7: Understanding Rhythm

Ch. 8: Understanding Bass

Ch. 9: Understanding Countermelody

Ch. 10: Understanding Structure

Ch. 11: Understanding Instrumentation

Ch. 12: Understanding Tempo

An Overview

Ch. 1: 19th Century: Pre-Foster

Ch. 2: Folk Music by the People

Ch. 3: Popular Music in its Infancy

Ch. 4: Stephen Foster – “Father of American Popular Music”

Ch. 5: The Importance of Stephen Foster

Ch. 6: Scott Joplin – “King of Ragtime”

Ch. 7: The Player Piano – Automated Music

Ch. 8: John Philip Sousa – “The March King”

Ch. 9: John Philip Sousa – Recording Artist and Activist

An Overview

Ch. 1: John Lomax – Recording American Roots Music

Ch. 2: Woody Guthrie – “Father of Modern American Folk Music”

Ch. 3: Leadbelly & Pete Seeger: End of the First Wave

Ch. 4: The Kingston Trio – Beginning of the Second Wave

Ch. 5: Joan Baez – “First Lady of Folk Music”

Ch. 6: Peter, Paul & Mary – Balancing the Message

Ch. 7: Robert Zimmerman – The Beginning of an American Icon

Ch. 8: Dylan in New York City

Ch. 9: Dylan after Newport

Ch. 10: The Importance of Dylan

Ch. 11: Folk Music in the 21st Century

An Overview

Ch. 1: The Roots of Country

Ch. 2: Bristol Beginnings

Ch. 3: The Grand Ole Opry

Ch. 4: Cowboys and the Movies

Ch. 5: Western Swing

Ch. 6: Bluegrass: Hillbilly on Caffeine

Ch. 7: Honky-tonk: Merging Two into One

Ch. 8: The Nashville Sound: Country-Pop

Ch. 9: Rockabilly – Country meets R&B

Ch. 10: Country Feminists Find Their Voice

Ch. 11: The Bakersfield Sound

Ch. 12: Austin “Outlaw” Country

Ch. 13: Neo-Traditionalists at the end of the 20th Century

Ch. 14: Mainstreaming Country in the ‘90s

Ch. 15: Redesigning Country in the 21st Century

An Overview

Ch. 1: What is Jazz?

Ch. 2: Before It Was Jazz

Ch. 3: Jazz is Born!

Ch. 4: Early Jazz Musicians

Ch. 5: Louis Armstrong

Ch. 6: Chicago and Harlem – Hub of 1920s Jazz

Ch. 7: Big Band – Jazz Swing!

Ch. 8: Big Band Musicians and Singers

Ch. 9: Jump Blues and Bop

Ch. 10: Cool Jazz

Ch. 11: Hard Bop

Ch. 12: Free Jazz – Breaking the Rules

Ch. 13: Fusion – The Jazz-Rock-Funk Experience

Ch. 14: Third Stream and World Jazz

Ch. 15: New Age & Smooth Jazz

Ch. 16: Summary – Jazz Lives!

An Overview

Ch. 1: Blues – The Granddaddy of American Popular Music

Ch. 2: Where Did the Blues Come From?

Ch. 3: What Are the Blues?

Ch. 4: How to Build the Blues

Ch. 5: Classic Blues – The Early Years

Ch. 6: Delta Blues – Authentic Beginnings

Ch. 7: Blues in the City – Migration and Power

Ch. 8: Blues in Britain – Redefining the Masters

Ch. 9: Contemporary Blues – Maturity and Respect

Ch. 10: The Relevancy of the Blues Today

Ch. 1: Timelines, Cultures & Technology

Ch. 2: Pre-Rock Influences

Ch. 3: Rock is Born!

Ch. 4: Rock is Named

Ch. 5: Doo-Wop

Ch. 6: Independent Record Labels

Ch. 7: Technology Shapes Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 8: The Plan to Mainstream Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 9: Payola – Rock ‘n’ Roll’s First Scandal

Ch. 1: Crafting Sound in the Studio/Producers and Hit Songs

Ch. 2: West Coast Sound: Beach, Surf, and Teens

Ch. 3: The British Invasion: Two Prongs – Pop & Blues

Ch. 4: Motown and the Development of a Black Pop-Rock Sound

Ch. 5: Soul Music: Gospel and R&B in the Deep South

Ch. 6: The Sounds of Bubble Gum Pop-Rock

Ch. 7: The Arrival of Folk-Rock

Ch. 8: Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 9: Early Guitar Gods of Rock

Ch. 10: Rock Festivals: The Rise and Fall of Music, Peace, and Love

Ch. 11: Anti-Woodstock and Shock Rock Movements

Ch. 1: Technological Breakthroughs

Ch. 2: Electronic Dance Music

Ch. 3: Hip-Hop & Rap – An Introduction

Ch. 4: The Beginnings of Rap

Ch. 5: Old School Rap – Up From the Streets

Ch. 6: Rap’s Golden Age

Ch. 7: East Coast – Political Rap

Ch. 8: West Coast – Gangsta Rap

Ch. 9: The Fragmentation of Rap – Pop, Party & More

Ch. 10: Further Fragmentation – Different Directions

Ch. 11: The Importance of Rap

Ch. 1: Musical Stage Productions in America before the 1800s

Ch. 2: Minstrel Shows and Melodramas

Ch. 3: Stage Presentations in the Late 19th Century

Ch. 4: Early 20th Century: Revues and Operettas

Ch. 5: The Arrival of the Modern American Musical

Ch. 6: Great Partnerships in Book-Musicals

Ch. 7: Musical Theatre Composers in the mid-Century

Ch. 8: Fresh Voices on the Stage in the 1960s

Ch. 9: Two Dominant Forces at the End of the Century

Ch. 10: New Voices at the End of the Century

Ch. 11: New Voices, New Sounds in the New Century

Ch. 12: Musical Theatre Glossary

Ch. 13: Is it “Theatre” or “Theater”?

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