"The Kingston Trio" were 'Three Jolly Coachmen'
Our Favorite American Folk Music Group were "The Kingston Trio"
It's the Fall of 1959. The Field House at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas is filled to overflowing with college students, some who are already fans of the young folk music group who are about to walk on stage. The house lights dim and spotlights are turned on. Onto the stage walk The Kingston Trio - to thunderous applause - opening their concert with their song "Three Jolly Coachmen".
For many in the audience that night, this young trio of singers and musicians, barely older than the young college students we were, are a new experience. But when they began to sing songs about experiences in life we could relate to, songs that spoke of our own frustrations, expectations and joys in life, we became fans from that moment onward - forever! The Kingston Trio's music had purpose and the messages were clear. The melodies and harmonies were easy to remember, and the overall effect was almost magical.
The Kingston Trio did not invent what we now call "folk music"; but what they did create was a public awareness of the new style and made the way possible for other artists to adapt to an art form called folk music.
*Images are from the personal collection of (c) Wednesday-Elf, unless otherwise noted.
Three Jolly Coachmen - by the Original Kingston Trio - 1958
"Three Jolly Coachmen" was the first cut from side A of the first album by The Kingston Trio from 1958.... and the very first song I ever heard The Kingston Trio sing in concert in 1959!
Lyrics to: - "Three Jolly Coachmen"
"Three Jolly Coachmen" was written by Dave Guard, one of the original members of The Kingston Trio
One, two, and three jolly coachmen sat at an English tavern.
Three jolly coachmen sat at an English tavern,
And they decided, and they decided, and they decided to have another flagon.
Landlord, fill the flowing bowl until it doth run over. (Repeat)
For tonight we merr-I be, (Repeat twice)
Tomorrow we'll be sober. (What!)
Here's to the man who drinks dark ale and goes to bed quite mellow
Here's to the man who drinks dark ale and goes to bed quite mellow
He lives as he ought to live (Repeat twice)
He'll die a jolly good fellow! (Ha! Ha! Ha!)
Here's to the man who drinks water pure and goes to bed quite sober. (Repeat)
He falls as the leaves do fall, (Repeat twice)
He'll die before October! (Ho! Ho! Ho!)
Here's to the maid who steals a kiss and runs to tell her mother. (Repeat)
She's a foolish, foolish thing. (Repeat twice)
For she'll not get another. (Pity!)
Here's to the maid who steals a kiss and stays to steal another. (Repeat)
She's a boon to all mankind. (Repeat twice)
For soon she'll be a mother!
After the concert that October evening in 1959, attended by the largest concert audience of the year at Kansas State, The Kingston Trio were interviewed by a young broadcasting student from the campus radio station.
The interviewer was Bob Austin, a college junior who had been a fan of The Kingston Trio since the beginning of their career two years earlier in 1957. In fact, Bob and two of his fraternity brothers had their own 'folk' group on the KSU campus that year called The Three Coachmen after one of their favorite Kingston Trio songs Three Jolly Coachmen, and they were known for singing the songs of The Kingston Trio.
My knowledge of this interview came from the fact that: two months later I was to meet Bob Austin, and two years later we were married!
Perhaps it might be said that our mutual love of The Kingston Trio and their music is one of the reasons we were drawn together! We have all their music, know every word to every song, and have seen The Kingston Trio live in concert 4 times, including the first concert at KSU. Bob met 'The Trio' when he interviewed them that night in 1959, and we met them together in person two more times in the next 3 concerts we attended. To this day, those times remain a special memory.
**A print of the picture of Bob interviewing "The Trio" appeared in the KSU 1960 yearbook, and we have the original photograph! The photo below of Bob with Bobby Shane was taken at that same interview.
Lead Singer of 'The Trio'
Bobby Shane was born and raised in Hawaii. He met Dave Guard in high school, where they occasionally performed together, and they both attended college in California. During college Bobby met Nick Reynolds and they formed a duet, singing at school functions and parties and occasionally joined by Dave Guard to make a 'trio'.
After college, Bobby returned to Hawaii to enter his father's wholesale distributing business, but shortly discovered the 'family business' was not for him. Meanwhile, Nick & Dave had been performing together in California. When Nick called a year later and asked Bob if he'd join them to form a trio, he was ready. Bobby had always enjoyed singing with Nick and Dave and that year -1957- The Kingston Trio was born.
Bobby Shane on Stage
For over 47 years, Bobby Shane worked and toured about 28 weeks every year all over the United States, and a few other places. On his web page he states he played live to over 10,000,000 people and is quoted saying "I like to say I'm not a folksinger, I'm a folks singer."
Today, Bob Shane has retired to Arizona, but his accomplishments in the field of Folk Music, and the love his fans have for his songs, will live on in The Kingston Trio's many recordings.
The 'Trio's' #1 Hit Song!
In the Summer of '58, The Kingston Trio recorded their first album, which enjoyed mild success. That Fall, The Trio went to Honolulu to play at The Royal Hawiian. It gave Dave and Bob some time at home, unaware of what was happening on the mainland. Bill Terry and Paul Colburn, DJs at KLUB in Salt Lake City, took a liking to one of the songs on the first KT album and gave it heavy airplay. Other stations across the country picked the song up and and clamored for Capitol Records to release it as a single. Capitol's vice president, Voyle Gilmore, called Frank Werber in Hawaii. "Get those boys back here" he said, "It looks like you're going to have the record of the year."
Gillmore's prediction was no exaggeration. The song was Tom Dooley, and this was the beginning of a meteoric success that has become a show business legend. When the Trio returned from Hawaii, Tom Dooley was the number one song in the nation.
*Write up from a Kingston Trio Biography on Sing365.com
Hang Down Your Head 'Tom Dooley' - #1 Single by The Kingston Trio
By 1958 "Tom Dooley" was already in circulation in the growing folk movement, but it was the Kingston Trio's hit that ignited the boom. These three clean-cut Hawaii residents may not have looked like accomplished musicians, but they were. David Guard first learned the open-G Hawaiian guitar and took up the banjo after a Weaver's concert; lead singer Bob Shane was much influenced by Harry Belefonte, and he sang with studied clarity; and Nick Reynolds contributed steady, old-timey guitar and signature harmony. Most of what the neophyte needs is here: "Tom Dooley," "Greenback Dollar," and the Carter Family tune, "Worried Man."
The Trio 'Evolves'
John Stewart Joins The Kingston Trio
In 1961 Dave Guard left The Kingston Trio to pursue a different musical direction. After considering several musicians, Bob and Nick agreed on John Stewart, a first-rate entertainer and a songwriter.
The Trio enjoyed six productive years with John Stewart, recording 13 albums together, and having several 'singles' top the charts and receive awards.
In 1967 Nick, Bob and John disbanded the Trio to pursue individual careers. "Pop music tastes were changing" says Bob. "That whole rock revolution spread from San Francisco across the country and took a lot of our audience with it. But you know folk music is timeless, and I knew it would come around again."
The Kingston Trio Returns...
The NEW Kingston Trio!
By 1968, Bob was eager to perform with a trio again. The New Kingston Trio featured Pat Horine and banjoist Jim Conner. They enjoyed renewed sucess, recording two albums, and adding new material to the KT repertoire. In 1973 Bob teamed up with Bill Zorn, formerly of The New Christy Minstrels, and North Carolinian Roger Gambill. Roger brought vocal talents to the group ranging from pop to operatic. His rendition of Danny Boy was never recorded, but got to be a regular request from the fans.
In 1976 Bob & Roger teamed with George Grove, another North Carolinian who had written and performed in Nashville. George's vocal and instrumental talents were unsurpassed in the Trio's history, and it should be noted that the symphony shows they performed many times each year - were made possible by his orchestral arrangements.
At a concert we attended in 1981, George Grove sang a song that became one of our favorites. It was called "Longest Beer of the Night", a poignant ballad of a lonely man. It was recorded in 1981 on their album Aspen Gold. In 1989 we met them again and asked why we never heard them sing "Longest Beer" in concert again. Bob Shane told us the song had been rearranged for orchestra and performed in May of 1983 in New York City at Carnegie Hall with a symphony orchestra, so it no longer would be a 'folk' ballad' performed by them in concert.
The Kingston Trio in Person... - 1981
California Concert - 1981
In 1981 we were living in Central California when Bob learned that part of "The Lively Arts" concert series, a community services program by Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, CA, would feature a concert by The Kingston Trio. Naturally we were interested in getting tickets, but Bob also contacted the PR director of the program and told her about the picture he had of his interview with The Trio in 1959.
The director was very pleased to hear the story, and asked to use the picture in the program. As a result, on October 22, 1981, we were given front row seats for the concert, and were taken 'backstage' before the concert to meet Bob Shane, George Grove and Roger Gambill, the 'current' members of The Kingston Trio, who autographed our program. To say we were absolutely delighted is putting it mildly! It was a wonderful concert, and a fantastic memory to this day!
"Scotch and Soda"
"Scotch and Soda" was recorded by Bobby Shane, singing solo, and has been dear to my heart since 1960 when I was dating "my" Bob, who used to sing this song to me often. Every time he would get to the line "All I need is one of your smiles", he'd look at me and I'd spontaneously give him a great big smile! To this day, I smile every time I hear the song sung.
Continues to tour with The Kingston Trio
George Grove, a wonderful musician and singer, spent several years in Nashville playing at Opryland and doing studio work. In 1976 he auditioned for the Trio and two weeks later he joined the group. George has now been with "The Kingston Trio" for more than 33 years, longer than any other member with the exception of Bob Shane. Today he continues to perform with the 'second-generation' of "The Kingston Trio", officially sanctioned by Bob Shane, now retired.
The Kingston Trio - 1989 - In Concert at the University of Missouri
One of our favorite 'live' concerts of "The Kingston Trio" we attended was held in Jesse Auditorium on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO on November 18, 1989. What made this concert so special for us was the fact that Nick Reynolds, one of the three original members, who had 'retired' to run a ranch on the coast of Oregon, rejoined The Trio after the death of Trio member Roger Gambill in 1985. Along with George Grove, Nick & Bob performed together for several more years.
After the concert that night in 1989, one of the UMC professors hosted a small 'reception' for The Kingston Trio. We were invited because Bob worked for KOMU-TV, one of the sponsors of the concert. To be able to just talk casually with the group we had admired for so long remains high in our special memories. Bob asked them if they remembered him interviewing them at Kansas State University 30 years earlier in 1959, and Nick Reynolds said "Yes - you're the one who made us late to our plane!" Now there's a memory!
Concert at Wolf Trap - 2002
In the Washington, DC area
The last time we saw The Kingston Trio in a live concert was in the Summer of 2002. A college friend living in Maryland called us in Savannah, Georgia to tell us about the upcoming concert to be held at the wonderful Open Air Filene Center at Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, located in Vienna, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. The Kingston Trio were scheduled to appear side by side in a concert with another favorite of ours The Smothers Brothers. It didn't matter that it was a day's drive to attend the concert; it couldn't be passed up! We spent several days visiting our friends in Maryland, then the night of the concert we took a picnic supper and ate on the lawn around the concert arena, along with several hundred other picnickers, then went into a really marvelous concert. Brought back so many memories as we 'sung along' to our favorite songs by both "The Kingston Trio" and "The Smothers Brothers". A night not to be forgotten.
Summary of The Kingston Trio Members
There have been many changes to the members of The Kingston Trio in the last half-century, since their beginning in 1957.
*Dave Guard, the original leader of The Trio, died on March 22, 1991 at the age of 56.
*John Stewart died in January 2008 at the age of 68.
*Nick Reynolds died October 1, 2008 at age 75.
*Roger Gambill, a later member of the Trio, died in 1985.
*Bobby Shane retired in 2004 and now lives in Arizona.
*Update 2013: George Grove is currently touring with what he calls "The Second Generation" of The Kingston Trio. The Trio's latest Concert Tour Schedule is listed below.
The music and the memories of "The Kingston Trio" will never be forgotten.
Kingston Trio Tour Schedule
"The Kingston Trio" continues to perform all across the country. Check their concert schedule below for exact time and date information of their upcoming concerts.
The 'Trio's' current tour schedule can be found here -- The Kingston Trio 'On the Road'
Songs Recorded by The Kingston Trio
The Kingston Trio, old and new, recorded around 42 albums from 1958 to the present day.
Many favorite songs were repeated on various album collections over the years.
Below are 8 of the most well-known songs sung and recorded by The Trio. Which one is your favorite?
What's Your Favorite of These Kingston Trio Songs?
A Few Additional Personal Notes:
Bob Austin and Guitar... All These Many Years Later!
Bob only had his Three Coachmen group at college for a couple of years, but he enjoyed playing the guitar, and singing our favorite "Trio" songs, for his own pleasure for many years. Today our son plays guitar.... but doesn't sing 'our' folk music!
Our Son, Greg ...
Playing Guitar and Singing HIS Favorite Music!
Today, our son, Greg, also plays guitar, but his style of music is different than ours was in the 1950's-1960s when we fell in love with the folk music of The Kingston Trio. Today, Greg plays and sings Jimmy Buffet songs, such as "Come Monday" and songs by "Sting". I've tried to get him interested in The Kingston Trio style folk music, but to no avail. Not his 'thing'!
Favorite Folk Music Groups
From the Folk Music Era
The Kingston Trio were our very favorite folk music group of the 1950s and 1960s, but we loved the songs of many groups who were performing during that era .... The Brothers Four, Peter, Paul & Mary, The Highwaymen, The Three D's, The New Christy Minstrals, The Limeliters, Bud & Travis, and Simon & Garfunkel. Some groups were only around for 2 or 3 years; others performed together for 30 or more years, and, as in the case of The Kingston Trio, still continue to thrill audiences with their music more than 50 years later!
For the Full Story of The Kingston Trio
Visit Their Website
I hope you enjoyed my "memories" of The Kingston Trio" and our love of their music.
For complete information on The Kingston Trio, the personalities, the timeline of their career, their music, and their Kingston Trio store for all things related to The Trio, visit The Kingston Trio Website
© 2010 Wednesday-Elf