THE KINGSTON TRIO > Once Upon a Time, Twice Upon a Time

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Back in 1957, when Beaver Cleaver faced second grade, and Ike faced the Cold War with more golf, Bob Shane, Dave Guard and Nick Reynolds decided to give the folk music thing a try. Good move. Their debut album in ‘58 went gold and stayed on the charts for four years.Label: Collector’s Choice
Once Upon A Time [Rating: 4 STARS]
Twice Upon A Time [Rating: 4 STARS]

Back in 1957, when Beaver Cleaver faced second grade, and Ike faced the Cold War with more golf, Bob Shane, Dave Guard and Nick Reynolds decided to give the folk music thing a try. Good move. Their debut album in ‘58 went gold and stayed on the charts for four years. Probably best known for that bad boyfriend ballad “Tom Dooley,” which won them a Grammy for “Best Country & Western Performance” (no Folk category then), the Kingston Trio helped put folk on the map. It was low-tech folk-two guitars, a banjo and three swell voices.

There was no Boston or John Fogerty timetable for these dudes, they simultaneously had four albums in the Top 10, and The Beatles once opened for them. John Stewart (who just died in January), replaced Guard in ‘61 and these two CDs feature a live gig from Lake Tahoe on their final striped shirt tour. Originally released in ‘69 and now re-issued. There was so much other stuff, including such alien concepts as 10-minute guitars, so a second disc of unreleased material was added.

A short list of their hits would include “Scotch & Soda,” “Tijuana Jail” and “M.T.A.,” and they’re all here. Not protest singers, even though they did sing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” on the White House lawn in ‘66, the Trio was always about a having good, clean fun. These 38 live songs and assorted intros and outros are relentlessly goofy, PG-rated Americana, perhaps reminding us of what we thought we were once upon a time and maybe, what we should aspire to be again.

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