Bob wrote the following during November 2004 while touring with the Kingston Trio:
Man – talk about a jam-packed month! From the left coast to the right coast and back again - it’s been one big adventure after another!
Let’s start out in Mesquite, NV on October 15th. We’d been looking forward to this date, as Bob Shane and his lovely wife, Bobbie, were planning on driving up from Phoenix. They were able to arrange for an oxygen tank that would fit into the car and supply Bob with three days of air. Bill and his wife, Jo had also planned to drive in from Phoenix, and George’s fiancée, Cindy, would join us for the show in the evening, making the short drive up from Las Vegas with a couple of friends. Meri and I had planned on driving out from Colorado, reuniting all of the Trio ladies, but a last minute “complication” changed all of our plans for the weekend. More on that in a minute.
Our show that night was a double bill with Glenn Yarbrough and The Folk Reunion. The group consists of my ex-Brothers Four partner, Dick Foley (the Bros’ original tenor), along with Rick Dougherty of Limeliters fame. Doug Barnett fills out the group on keyboards, bass, guitar and vocals. Rick, who inherited the bass guitar slot in the Limes, has now slipped into the banjo role, and he’s really getting up to speed on it (as if we really need another banjo player!). Glenn and Company opened the show to the delight of the packed house, playing a mixture of Limeliters and Glenn Yarbrough hits along with some really wonderful new songs.
After a brief intermission we took the stage and proved once again that the music of The Kingston Trio is destined to live forever in America. Bob and Bobbie were sitting back stage and seemed to be very pleased with what they were hearing. This was the first time ever that Bob had been to a Kingston Trio show that he wasn’t suited up for. It was also the first time the Shanes had ever heard us perform, and we were in top form that night. Toward the end of the show, George stepped up to the mic and, with great reverence and fanfare, introduced Bob Shane, who came out and sang his signature, “Scotch and Soda” to many cheers, tears and a standing ovation!
The next day, we headed back to Las Vegas to embark on an amazing journey, aka the “complication” that I mentioned earlier. The Boston Red Sox had called and invited us to sing “The National Anthem” and “MTA” at one of their play-off games against the New York Yankees. The Kingston Trio is proud of the fact that every time we’ve sung the Anthem at a major league ball game the home team has won. As it turned out, we were scheduled to sing for game #4, the crucial “make-or-break it” game for the BoSox, who were down 3 games to zip in the play-off series.
We went down to Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon for a sound check. This particular park has about a 2.5 second delay on the sound bounce-back coming from the outfield wall, which they call the big green monster. We tried singing the Anthem once and it was terribly distracting and hard to keep our place with that 2.5 second echo. They offered us wireless in-ear monitors, which saved the day for Bill and me. They had a volume control on the transmitter box, so you could crank them up and hear the mics really well. I couldn’t have done it without the monitor, but George wasn’t comfortable with his and he decided to tough it out.
That evening, after we sang our two numbers, they marched us straight up behind home plate through the crowd and out into some secret passageway. All the way up through the stands we were getting high-fives from fans of all ages, many of whom were too young to remember Charlie or even the MTA (it’s now the MBTA) but they all knew the Anthem and they all knew that the home team had to win that night! We were there to bring them good luck, and we didn’t disappoint. At 1:30 in the morning, after 12 nail-biting innings, Boston finally won!
There is a maze of back hallways and secret passages in the bowels of Fenway, and we hiked through many of them that afternoon and evening, going between the field and the green room. You can really feel the history of that building when you get down into the areas where they keep the lawn mowers and the sod. Then up through another ancient hallway, running your hands along bricks that have seen generations of fans, players, hot-dog vendors and beer schleppers. What a rush!
The team treated us like royalty, presenting us with Red Sox jerseys, caps and team jackets. They fed us well, too, with a sumptuous spread of clam chowder, lobster, exotic cheeses and desserts. After our performance we watched the game from the 600 Club, with endless supplies of beer, popcorn, shrimp and hot dogs. America is the greatest place on Earth, and baseball is the greatest game! We were part of history that night! We’ll be bragging for years about how we broke “the curse of the Bambino” and sent the Red Sox on to an 8-game winning streak and the World Series Pennant. Yeah – it was The Kingston Trio who did that!
We flew home for three days before heading back out on a 10-day package tour under the moniker, “This Land Is Your Land”. On the bill were Glenn Yarbrough and The Folk Reunion, The Brothers Four and The Kingston Trio. Kinda like the Monsters (or Dinosaurs?) of Folk. We had seven shows between October 22nd and 30th in various towns in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, and we traveled that ribbon of highway aboard a 40-passenger bus. There were only 14 of us (including Glenn’s wife, Kathleen and my wife, Meri), so there was plenty of room to spread out. It didn’t take long to break out the instruments and make a little travelin’ music. It was great fun hanging out with old friends for 10 days.
We also enjoyed working in a new song that we’ve just recorded with Glenn. It’s called “America, America”, and it’s kind of an ode to our special connections with various places around the country. We used this song as an encore, and then we’d close the show with the title song, “This Land Is Your Land”, bringing the entire cast on stage. It never failed to rouse the crowd into a hootenanny frenzy and send them all home singing.
We had a couple days off after the Richmond, IN date and we decided to spend the time in Cincinnati. We’d been invited to hang out with a couple friends there, Bill Morehead and Rob Reider. Bill was kind enough to chauffeur for us, taking The Trio and Meri out to his club for dinner on Sunday night and then a bunch of us to the Famous Old Time Music store on Monday. We saw some cool stuff there and I bought a vintage Arthur Godfrey ukulele with a push-button chord player attachment – like an auto-uke.
That evening we went to the church where Rob Reider is the head technical guy and he worked with us as we experimented with singing and playing on stage into a single mic, just like the group did back in the early days. It was a fruitful session, and Rob let us borrow an Audio Technica 4430 to try on the road. We finally got the opportunity in Tiffin, OH to set it up for a show. It was a great experience to be able to move in and out of the mic and change positions, depending on who was singing lead at any particular time. We tried it again in Springfield, OH, but the speaker array was too close to the stage in that theater, and we couldn’t escape the feedback. We determined that more research needs to be done on other mic options. The concept, though, is a winner. We all loved the flexibility and freedom of it.
We returned home from this odyssey with only a couple days to do our laundry and repack for a 5-day jaunt back to New England. The first show on November 5th was a special night for us. We were performing in the venerable Providence (Rhode Island) Performing Arts Center, a vintage vaudeville house with ornate gilded walls and vaulted ceiling.
Our opening act was one of my all-time musical heroes, John Sebastian. I was a huge Lovin’ Spoonful fan, but I especially “grooved on” (hey – it was the sixties, remember) John, who was the talented one, in my estimation. He wrote great songs, had a cool voice and played guitar, harmonica and autoharp, which was a very unusual instrument for a group with drums and electric guitars. John played all his hits that night and brought back a lot of memories. We also had the honor of having him join us on harmonica for “Lookin’ For The Sunshine.” And get this – we found out that he’s not the original John Sebastian! No sirree!!
On Sunday we drove to Boston for a day off. Our hotel and meals were being comped, so we decided to take ourselves out to McCormick & Schmidt’s, a fabulous seafood restaurant in the Park Plaza Hotel building. As luck would have it, on a night when everything is already paid for, we were informed by the maitre de that the restaurant was offering a free entrée to all veterans. George is the only vet among us, so he got his free entrée that he didn’t have to pay for anyway. The best part of it being free was – it was absolutely delicious! There’s nothing worse than a free meal that’s inedible.
It was back to work on Monday with a special event for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, formerly the Metropolitan Transit Authority, aka the MTA. The MBTA is initiating an electronic fare system involving a debit card that can be activated in various increments and then swiped at the turnstile whenever you ride the subway. Advice was solicited from several sources as to what to name this card and the overwhelming response was the “Charlie Card.” And so it was that we’d been invited to perform our hit song once again for the unveiling of this new Charlie Card. It was actually The Kingston Quartet, as Governor Mitt Romney joined us and even took the lead on a couple verses. He’s not a bad singer, either! He claimed that he’d wanted to do that ever since he was five years old and heard “MTA” on the radio. Five years old???!!! Young whippersnapper! I was thirteen when that came out. So, with all this Boston activity, I guess we ought to resurrect “Big Ball In Boston”. We’ve sure been having one lately! It’s nice to be home for awhile now, but the road always beckons. We’ll be back out there before long.
Copyright 2007-2008 All Rights Reserved Bob Haworth and Crescent Entertainment