Timing is everything, and that’s especially true with pop music. In 1956 Three Stanford grad students (Dave Guard, Nick Reynolds, Bob Shane) started a band as a way to meet girls at frat parties. Six years and a few hit songs later The Kingston Trio had changed the face of popular music. The recently released Both Sides of the Kingston Trio Volume 1& 2 is a greatest hits/career retrospect that includes virtually every song recorded by the group.
From 1957 until 1963 there was no more popular musical group in America. The Kingston Trio was one of the most successful acts on Capitol Records and the most successful folk group of the ‘60s. Songs like “Tom Dooley,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and the “M.T.A.” song became national hits and spawned a feeding frenzy among record labels that led to the signing of acts such as Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Pete Seeger.
The Kingston Trio’s mix of folk songs, humor and good spirits made them immensely popular among college students, who where their biggest audience. Unfortunately for the group, timing just as quickly made them unhip and passé. With the anti-war and civil rights movements gaining popularity among young people in the mid sixties, by 1963 The Kingston Trio’s music seemed too tied to the repressed right wing fifties so many young people where trying to leave behind. They were soon dropped by Capitol and never again reached their previous level of popularity.
While they weren’t as authentic as Woody Guthrie or as eloquent as Dylan, The Kingston Trio should be remembered for ushering in the folk revival of the sixties and recording songs that have become folk song standards. If you’re a fan of folk music, or just trying to meet girls at frat parties, check out Both Sides of the Kingston Trio.
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// Notes from the Road
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