Friday, October 23, 2009

Chestnut Brown Canary

A few days ago (or maybe it was a few weeks ago) I received an email from a friend that mentioned the names of several Folk Music groups from the 1950’s and 1960’s. He was in the process of transcribing his vinyl collection onto a more current media.

I went through this process about 4 or 5 years ago, but selected cuts from various albums rather than copying the entire album. I made two CD’s, one loaded with MP3’s and the other containing some favorites on a .wav format.

One of the Folk Music group mentioned in the email was the Chad Mitchell Trio. The Chad Mitchell Trio was the very first group that I saw in a live performance. It was in late 1959 or early 1960 (snow was on the ground – so it might have even been early spring 1960) at the Chicago Historical Society (if you ever go to Chicago, this is a place that you want to visit).

The group was performing nightly at a club (bar) a few blocks away at North Ave. and Wells St. (in Olde Town) and took the time out to do a gratis set on a Saturday afternoon at the Historical Society.

Fortunately I was there, with a few of my fellow students, attending a lecture about Chicago history.

After the lecture we were asked not to leave the auditorium, because we were in for a special treat. We would have a musical interlude, so to speak. Not one of the 40 or so people left the room.

Enters the Chad Mitchell Trio!

The first song that they performed (and the only song that I can remember by name) was “No Irish Need Apply”, and I was overwhelmed when hearing the live music. It sounded so different from listening to music on the radio or on the Hi-Fi.

I’ll never forget that day!

Now, here is how my neural processors (RAM) work!

I read the email, I think of the Chad Mitchell Trio, I think of the Historical Society, I think of my old friends, I think of a guy named Joe (who was at this mini concert with me) and then I feel compelled to speak to Joe about the “good old days”.

So I call him!

After the usual salutations, talking about the weather and our ailments, I switch the conversation to Folk Music.

Joe and I (as well as a few others) went to “Mother Blues” in Olde Town Chicago to see Joan Baez (with guest performer Bob Dylan – fairly unknown at that time) and we also went to a Peter, Paul and Mary concert (I believe it was at the Goodman Theater behind the Chicago Art Institute) in 1961.

Joe recalled the PP&M concert and asked me “Didn’t you have a crush on Mary Travers?” I answered by saying that I had a crush on “every thing in a skirt”. "Don't you remember our High School Art Teacher, Connie?” “I was like a puppy in Connie’s class, I would fetch for her and do anything that she wanted, just to be close to her.”

He remembered and he laughed!

As the conversation continued we spoke of other Folk Music artists. Joe brought up the fact that many of the 1960’s Rock Artists had a Folk Music background. I brought up the fact that some Folk singers never went over to “the other side”, they were purist. Sure, Dylan electrified his band, but he did continue to write Folk, not Rock.

I mentioned that one of Bob Dylan’s most covered songs is “Knockin’ on Heavens Door” which has been covered by many major rock groups throughout the years. But they’re not like the original version; they lack the compassion in Dylan’s voice.

Then he brought up Judy Collins (who did some Dylan). I had purchased her album “Wildflowers”, at the PX, while stationed at Kagnew Station in Africa, after hearing the song about “Clouds” (Both Sides Now) on the radio. I had a crush on Judy, but this time I was seemingly an adult. I still had the crush (I’m sure that this has to do with high testosterone levels in a young male viewing an attractive female on an album cover).

Joe then brings up Crosby, Stills and Nash. This was one of my all time favorite groups from the late sixties and seventies.

Joe then asks me it I knew the origins of the CSN song “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”.

I say no!

Joe then informs me that is was Steven Stills tribute to Judy Collins. Unknown to me, Stills had dated (was sleeping with her) Collins when he was with Buffalo Springfield. My friend Joe knew all of this information; and I think I know music trivia – silly me.

Two days later I get an email from Joe with a link to Youtube. It’s a video of CSN doing Suite: Judy Blue Eyes with Judy Collins.

Now, I can’t get this song out of my head: Every time that I hear a bird in the back yard warble I hear “Chestnut brown canary, Ruby throated sparrow” rushing through the canyons of my mind.

Thanks a lot Joe!

The Beach Bum

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23 Comments:

Blogger alfredo_tomato said...

Judy Collins is still out there making music.

A friend with the Louisville Symphony Orchestra backed up Judy Collins when she played in town. She has noting but praise for her as a musician and as a person.

I've heard the same from other musicians who played with her.

Fri Oct 23, 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Morgan said...

like the yellow bellied sapsucker,the eye of the sparrow is with you.

Sat Oct 24, 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Dung Wu said...

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I worked with a bunch of turkeys.

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Blogger Admiral Jimmy said...

Had the pleasure of seeing Judy Collins at the Auditorium Theater in Roosevelt University. I sat in the upper upper balcony in the last seat and was able to hear her beautiful voice loud and clear.

Tue Oct 27, 08:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Murial said...

I liked her on the old Hit Parade that was on T.V Saturday night. They take all the good entertainment off the air. Snooky Lanson was my favorite.

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