Chad Mitchell Trio: Unique Folk Group
Why I'm making this page about the Chad Mitchell Trio:
I'm making this page about the Chad Mitchell Trio because, as you may know, I love American folk music, and The Chad Mitchell Trio was another one of the great folk groups of the 60s folk revival in America. They sang both traditional folk songs and political protest folk songs. They were unique in that none of them played instruments and in that they were particularly known for their satirical songs about current events.
I greatly enjoyed hearing them on the radio at that time, and I recently purchased their "Collection" album (featured below) and play it every day. I especially enjoy their version of the spiritual, "You can tell the world."
First, check out how the Chad Mitchell Trio started and take a listen to one of their spotlight songs, and check out some of their albums. Then note their later changes and their successes, listen to more of their songs and check out more of their albums, including the great collection album I mentioned. I will list that one last.
For a full history of American Folk Music, check out this hub:
- American Folk Music, Past, Present and Future
Folk is probably the most overlooked music genre in America today. It is my favorite music genre and one that has become progressively less known since it's big boost in the 60's.
The Beginning of The Chad Mitchell Trio - (info. gleaned from Wikipedia and the Chad Mitchell Trio official website:)
- [According to The Gazette:] In 1959, when the Spokane Washington based Gonzaga University glee club folded, William Chadbourne Mitchell of Spokane "was asked to form a group which could perform for college functions." He formed the Chad Mitchell Trio of himself, Mike Pugh from Pasco, Washington and Mike Kobluk from...Canada plus Jim McGuinn accompanist (on guitar or banjo). Read the article
- [According to Wikipedia:] In the summer of 1959, Rev. Reinard W. Beaver encouraged them and asked them to travel with him to New York City to try performing in the new folk-music scene. .
- Musical arranger Milton Okun helped them to professionally polish their performing skills.
- Because of #3, they were able to land "a key booking at New York City's Blue Angel club and radio appearances with Arthur Godfrey and television appearances with Pat Boone."
- In his May 1960 Carnegie Hall concert, Harry Belafonte invited them to appear as back-up singers and gave them a small featured spotlight. He then signed them to his Belafonte Enterprises management firm.
Take a listen:
Here's one of their spotlight numbers:
The original Chad Mitchell Trio
Changes and Success of the Trio: - (Info gleaned from Wikipedia)
- During the summer of 1960, Mike Pugh left to go back to college. They auditioned over 150 singers and finally chose Joe Frazier of Lebanon, Pennsylvania to replace Pugh.
- In 1962, after doing mostly traditional folk songs, they released the satire "The John Birch Society," establishing their ability to do controversial material.
- Also in 1962, they departed from Belafonte Enterprises. Read the Wikipedia article
In March 1962, they did a concert at Greenwich village's Bitter End. The concert was recorded resulting in the album listed below, which showcases the trio at their best -- informal, irreverent, and totally entertaining. Discarding their suits from earlier album covers, they now performed in comfortable sweaters along with their accompanists, future Byrd Jim McGuinn, former Weaver Fred Hellerman and bassist Bill Lee. The audience was more intimate as well, the coffeehouse audience responding more reverently than the raucous, huge crowd on the Mighty Day on Campus album. The trio's choice of material is solid, mixing traditional folk songs arranged by Milt Okun with more contemporary songs written by the likes of Bob Gibson ("You Can Tell the World," "Blues Around My Head") and Tom Paxton ("Come Along Home"). The album starts off with a bang with the ingeniusly wicked "The John Birch Society" and Woody Guthrie's "Great Historical Bum" is preceded by some humorous braggging.
Check out this Chad Mitchell Trio Album:
- In 1963, they moved to Mercury Records, enabling them to add more aggressively political songs to their repertoire.
- They appeared on the TV show Hootenanny.
- In 1965 Mitchell left to embark on a solo singing career. He was replaced with the young, unknown singer/songwriter John Denver. Denver wrote some of the group's songs, but the group retained the well-known "Chad Mitchell Trio" name.
- In 1966, Frazier left the trio and was replaced with David Boise.
- After a final live album, Kobluk left and was replaced with Michael Johnson. Because contractual requirements prohibited using the "Mitchell" name after the last original member left, they became "Denver, Boise and Johnson," but soon disbanded.
Take another listen to the Chad Mitchell Trio:
And listen to this, another humorous number by them:
Reunions of the Chad Mitchell Trio:
[From Wikipedia] in 1987, "The Mitchell/Kobluk/Frazier trio and John Denver reunited... for several concerts, [and PBS] broadcasts.... These are the only recordings of all four members." Read the Wikipedia article
Like its predecessor, the Chad Mitchell Trio's Reunion, Part 2 is drawn from a concert given by Chad Mitchell, Mike Kobluk, and Joe Frazier at the Spirit Square Center for the Arts in Charlotte, N.C., in 1987, their first appearance together since the 1960s. The earlier album, Mighty Day: The Chad Mitchell Trio Reunion, contained performances of most of the trio's better-known songs, but there are a few gems left over, notably a cover of Tom Paxton's "The Marvelous Toy" (a chart hit for the group) and a rendition of the Depression-era standard "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?," plus a couple of nice surprises: "Barry's Boys," the trio's parody of 1964 right-wing presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, gets updated into a parody of 1987 right-wing President Ronald Reagan in "Ronnie's Boys"; and Bruce Cockburn's "Nicaragua" makes an appropriate and timely (for 1987) addition to the trio's repertoire. As on Mighty Day, former group member John Denver makes a cameo appearance.
Check out My Other Folki Music Hubs:
- Hubography of My Folk Music hubs
Here is a concise listing of all my folk music hubs together in one place with one Amazon product for each.
- The Almanac Singers: original protest singers
The Almanac Singers are one of the most overlooked groups in music history. They concentrated on songs of protest, particularly for the labor movement which had started in the 1900s.
- The Weavers, influential folk group
The Weavers were a great, influential and beautiful folk group in the 50's and, as such were the fore-runners of the folk revival of the 60's.
- The Kingston Trio, unique influential folk group
The Kingston Trio is without a doubt one of the best folk music groups ever, with a unique and wonderful great folk music sound.
- The Limeliters, Another Unique Folk Group
The Limeliters are another of the now little-know but then great folk groups of the 60's folk revival. They featured the golden voiced Glen Yarborough as their lead singer.
- The Highwaymen, Another Unique 60's Folk Group
The Highwaymen were another original great sounding folk group from the 60s folk revival. They were one of the few folk quintets (groups of 5).
- The New Christy Minstrels, A Really Unique Folk Group
In the midst of the folk revival, Randy Sparks came up with a really unique concept a group that combined the folk sound with the choral sound, The result was The New Christy Minstrels.
Visit the official Chad Mitchell Trio website:
- Chad Mitchell Trio now and then
Read news articles, view old photos, concert, T.V. and record proms, playbills and other items.
Finally, get this great collection CD for less on eBay:
As I said, above, I have this CD and play it all the time. It's a great mix of traditional folk and more modern bluesy folk. It also has the humorous "John Birch Society," which is good for a laugh, and, at the other end of the spectrum, the sublime gospel song, "You can tell the world," which I love. They say they love the next song after that one, "The Strangest Dream," and ask the audience to sing along with it, but, the one I really love is "You Can Tell the World," although all of them are great, and it really is a great mix of styles.