Chapter 6-1 Music
Since music has been an integral part of my life, I felt that it warranted a chapter of its own.
I came from a musical family, maternal, paternal and through my adopted line. My Mother loved to sing, and I grew up learning the songs my Mother enjoyed. She loved the Big Band era, and also the songs of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. She also knew a lot of the old cowboy songs. I quickly learned to sing along with Mom. My Grandma Helen also liked to sing old songs, especially those from the turn of the 20th Century and the songs of Stephen Foster. I learned to sing songs such as Mares Eat Oats, Don’t the Moon Look Pretty on a Country Road, Daisy, Sweet Violets, and Ragtime Cowboy Joe. After Mom married Dad (Bud), our house soon was filled with Country and Western. We had a huge record collection of old 78’s and a wire recorder. Not only did we listen to music, we recorded our own voices singing. My Grandpa Ross had a tape recorder and taped continually from the Cleveland Radio Stations. I still have many of his tapes from the 1950’s. He liked the rock and roll of the 50’s and the music of Harry Belafonte.
This is a wire recorder from Sears just like the one we had and a wire spool. Some people think that the tape recorder made these obsolete. Actually they were both invented at the same time, and for some very high-level scientific recordings, the wire is the best media and is still used. The problem for home use was that they sometimes kinked and splicing meant knowing how to tie a very fine fisherman’s knot.
After high school, I played for a short time with a Country and Western Band in North Carolina. After being transferred to Quantico, Virginia, I started going to clubs in Washington, D.C, where I listened to many rock and country groups. One in particular stands out. Link Wray had a group called “Link Wray and the Wray Men” who performed in a nightclub on E Street. This was a new sound – “Rock-a-Billy” – a blend of country and rock and roll. The group was entirely instrumental. The band played Danelectro guitars, innovative guitars with long cut-outs in the body. These had names such as “Long Horn Bass.” This music had a hard honky-tonk sound which I really liked. One of the songs “Rumble” made the top 10 list, and was featured in the movie “Independence Day.” Link also wrote a song called “Batman” which was used as the theme song for the batman TV show. I talked to Link in 2003 in Columbus. He was in poor health, but still playing Rock-n-Roll. He died on November 10, 2005.
A new type of music had emerged during my high school years into mainstream America. The rise of popular American folk began with performers whose own lives were rooted in the authentic folk tradition. Woody Guthrie began by singing songs he remembered his mother singing to him as a child. Later, in the 1930s and 1940s, Guthrie both collected folk music and also composed his own songs, as did Pete Seeger, who was the son of a professional musicologist. Through dissemination on commercial recordings, this vein of music became popular in the United States during the 1950s, through singers like the Weavers (Seeger’s group), Burl Ives, The Limeliters, Harry Belafonte with Calypso, and the Kingston Trio, who tried to reproduce and honor the work that had been collected in preceding decades. The commercial popularity of such performers probably peaked in the U.S. with the ABC Hootenanny television series in 1963, which was cancelled after the arrival of the Beatles, the “British invasion” and the rise of folk-rock.
I became interested in the Beatnik movement of the 50’s and the accompanying folk music. Phil Ochs from Columbus was writing protest songs as was Bob Dylan, and I started frequenting the folk clubs such as “Coffee and Confusion” and the Subterranean Caverns. I liked both the ambience of the clubs and the new music and poetry. I tried to be a beatnik, but my short Marine Corps haircut just didn’t fit in, although I did manage to wear black turtle-neck sweaters and black jeans though.
Folk music before 1958 had a narrow following. It was not mainstream music and although very good, wasn’t played on popular radio stations. The railroad songs and depression era music of Jimmy Rodgers, the world music of the Weavers, the blues music from the Mississippi Delta were not heard by many. But this all changed with the advent of the folk song “Tom Dooley” by the Kingston Trio in 1958. Suddenly this obscure music became popularized and we were soon introduced to the Limelighters, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Joan Baez and Harry Belafonte who introduced Calypso to name a few. We also began to hear Latino music from such artists as Trini Lopez. We also saw the emergence of singers who combined popular music and the sound of folk to produce a contemporary sound; musicians such as Simon and Garfunkel and even some of the later songs of the Beatles.
After folk music moved away from the mainstream of American music, those who loved the genre became increasingly more involved with other types of folk music, especially Celtic music. Celtic and Bluegrass have common roots and at many festivals such as Renaissance and Early American festivals, folk music in all its various forms, along with Bluegrass is popular. We have also seen the emergence of “New Age” music which is pseudo-Celt and often incorporates the occult. Many purists shun this type of music.
The folk movement greatly affected my own interests. While in Scotland and England, I learned a great number of British folk songs which changed my direction. Instead of concentrating in Country and Western, I increasingly began to change my repertoire to folk music, particularly the music of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Filk is a genre of folk music composed and performed by science-fiction fans, blending folk and science fiction. “filkers” have an on-line culture and are often seen at science fiction and gaming conventions. They have annual Filker conventions in some cities. The bizarre costumes and somewhat strange lyrics are interesting. I attended one of these conventions. Fun, but not really “my thing”.
After I was married and just before going to England in 1965, I bought a fairly good Harmony guitar for $100. While in Scotland, I was at a music store, trying out new guitars and picked up an Eko 12-string Italian guitar. I fell in love and bought it for $240. This was my guitar of choice for several years. However, I loaned it to a friend for gig and he dropped it on the neck, breaking the neck loose (just like my Martin D-18). I had it fixed several times, but it never played the same again and kept breaking loose. The neck tension of a 12-string is high and demands a very strong bond between the neck and body. So I switched back to my 6-string and brought it back to the states in 1968.
In Scotland, I began frequenting the folk clubs which were very popular with my age group (early 20’s). I loved the Irish and Scottish folk and immediately purchased several song books and learned the music. I joined up with Butch Girard from Miami, Florida who was also in the Air Force, and Dee Watt, a girl from Edinburgh who was dating a friend of ours, and formed a folk group “The Gatekeepers.” We became popular overnight and started playing the clubs in Scotland and England. We played as regulars at the “Stockpot” in Edinburgh and did several gigs at the “Hootenanny Club” in Galashiels. We also played as one of the lead-in groups for Peter, Paul and Mary at the Royal Albert Hall in London which was hosting a folk festival. We traveled by train to London for that gig.
At this time, Ewan MacColl was operating the Singer’s Club in Edinburgh. Ewan was married to Peggy Seeger and was a folk archivist and playwright. He, along with Pete Seeger was probably the most important men in the folk movement. As a songwriter, MacColl is best known as the author of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” “Dirty Old Town,” “The Shoals of Herring,” “Freeborn Man” and “The Manchester Rambler.” He wrote over 300 songs, and died in 1989.
His club was not open to the public, but just to entertainers in the folk industry. We were members and rubbed elbows and jammed with other entertainers such as Barney McKenna, The Chieftains, Trevor Lucas, Rolf Harris, Hamish Imlach, the Doobries, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, The Clancy Brothers, Tommy Makem, Alex Campbell, Matt McGinn, Peter, Paul and Mary, and even the Rolling Stones.
These acquaintances of the period 1965-1966 were renewed in years to come. In 1968, Tom Paxton and I sang together at the Bedford Folk Club in Bedford England. Tom is still singing professionally and is a frequent artist at the Newport Folk Festival. In 2004, I had the opportunity to visit with Bobby Clancy. In 2003, I was talking to Mary Travers from Peter, Paul and Mary and we reminisced about the old days. She even remembered a song I wrote called “Ban the Bomb,” and still remembered the lyrics! In 1999, I went to a Chieftains concert, and was invited to the back-stage party by a Columbus folk singer, Victoria Parks. I was listening to the conversation when Paddy Moloney who founded the Chieftains, came up and said “Don’t I know you?” I replied that it wasn’t likely. He then asked if I was a singer. I said “Yes.” He asked where I had performed and when I mentioned Scotland, the said “Didn’t you used to sing in the Stockpot?” I replied yes, that I was lead singer for a group called “The Gatekeepers.” He then told me that he used to frequent the Stockpot and liked our group very much. What a thrill!
In 1968, we returned to the states and in 1969, my Mother purchased a Martin D-28 guitar for my birthday. This is the guitar I use today. The Martin D-28 is probably the most famous and most used guitar in both the folk and the country acoustic world.
In the 1990’s in Columbus, I joined with my two sons and formed a group called “Glodrydd.” Elystan Glodrydd was a Celtic ancestor. We sang Scottish, Irish, and some American folk songs. David played Flute, Andrew played the Bodhran (an Irish drum), and I played guitar and sang. David also sang on some of the songs.
When my children were very young, they enjoyed singing with me and we formed a family band and sung at various church activities. We took a first place in a regional talent show in Dearborn, Michigan.
Today, I still play at some events. I have performed at various Celtic Festivals and New Year’s eve celebrations. I have sung for Kiwanis Clubs, churches, nursing homes, hospitals, retirement centers, etc. I also sing in church choirs. I was the Branch Music Director while in the Madison Lake Branch, London, Ohio. In 2019, Andrew, my daughter Cindy and I formed the Celtic Folk Group “Down The Glen”. Sometimes, Cindy’s husband, Jack Williamson, joins in. Andrew plays multiple percussion instruments, Cindy play flute, Jack Plays tambourine, and I play guitars. We are all vocalists. We have professional sound equipment including microphones and stands, Amplifiers, and a system to allow recording to YouTube or create MP3 files.
In the mid 1980’s, I joined the Welsh Society of Central Ohio and became interested in the music of my motherland. I began to learn to sing hymns and folk songs in Welsh. I joined a Welsh Ensemble, singing Bass. In addition, I had my daughter Cindy and my son Andrew who were both music majors, teach me to conduct. Since that time I have conducted in Church Sacrament and Priesthood Meeting and have conducted a number of Welsh events. These include annual picnics, Gymanfa Ganu (Welsh Hymn Sings), and in 2003 I was accompanied at the St David’s Day Gymanfa Ganu in Columbus, Ohio by Catrin Finch who is the Royal Harpist to the Prince of Wales.
Since music has played such an important part of my life, I have decided to include the hits from the year I was born and my high school years. Of course, as an infant, the hits from the year of my birth are not really significant to me, but I have included them for interest’s sake. Many of these can be viewed on YouTube.
1941 – Pop hits: 1.Stardust-Artie Shaw, 2.String of Pearls-Glenn Miller, 3.Summit Ridge Drive-Artie Shaw, 4.You Made Me Love You-Harry James, 5.Dancing In The Dark-Artie Shaw, 6.Take The “A” Train-Duke Ellington, 7.You Are My Sunshine-Wayne King, 8.God Bless The Child-Billie Holiday, 9.Chattanooga Choo Choo-Glenn Miller, 10.Piano Concerto In B Flat-Freddy Martin
1941- Country Hits: 1.Along the Santa Fe Trail-Bing Crosby, 2.Be Honest With Me-Gene Autry, 3.Cool Water–Sons of the Pioneers, 4.It Makes No Difference Now–Gene Autry, 5.Live and Let Live–Wiley Walker and Gene Sullivan, 6.New San Antonio Rose-Bing Crosby, 7.Take Me Back to Tulsa–Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys ,8.Walking The Floor Over You –Ernest Tubb ,9.When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again–Wiley Walker, 10.Worried Mind–Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys
1955-Pop hits: 1. Tutti-Frutti – Little Richard, 2. Maybellene – Chuck Berry, 3. Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley, 4. Why Do Fools Fall In Love – Teenagers, 5. The Great Pretender – Platters, 6. Ain’t It A Shame – Fats Domino, 7. Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two, 8. Speedoo – Cadillacs, 9. Story Untold – Nutmegs, 10. My Babe – Little Walter
1955 – Country HitsL 1.Loose Talk – Carl Smith, 2.Let Me Go, Lover – Hank Snow, 3.In the Jailhouse Now – Webb Pierce, 4.Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young – Faron Young, 5.A Satisfied Mind – Porter Wagoner, 6.I Don’t Care – Webb Pierce, 7.The Cattle Call – Eddy Arnold, 8.Love, Love, Love – Webb Pierce, 9.That Do Make it Nice – Eddy Arnold, 10.Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford
1956-Pop hits: 1. Hound Dog – Elvis Presley, 2. Long Tall Sally – Little Richard, 3. Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins, 4. Don’t Be Cruel – Elvis Presley, 5. Be-Bop-A-Lula – Gene Vincent & the Bluecaps, 6. Roll Over Beethoven – Chuck Berry, 7. In The Still Of The Nite – Five Satins, 8. Blueberry Hill – Fats Domino, 9. Please, Please, Please – James Brown & the Famous Flames, 10. I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two
1956 – Country Hits: 1.Why Baby Why – Webb Pierce and Red Sovine, 2.I Forgot to Remember to Forget – Elvis Presley, 3.Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Presley, 4.I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby – The Wilburn Brothers, 5.Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins, 6.Crazy Arms – Ray Price, 7.I Want You, I Need You, I Love You – Elvis Presley, 8.Singing the Blues – Marty Robbins, 9.The Blackboard of My Heart – Hank Thompson, 10.Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash, 11.Honky Tonk Man – Johnny Horton
1957-Pop hits: 1. Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley, 2. Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On – Jerry Lee Lewis, 3. That’ll Be The Day – Crickets, 4. Bye Bye Love – Everly Brothers, 5. Great Balls Of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis. 6. School Day – Chuck Berry, 7. Rock And Roll Music – Chuck Berry, 8. Peggy Sue – Buddy Holly, 9. Lucille – Little Richard, 10. Rocking Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu – Huey Piano Smith & the Clowns, 11. Wake Up Little Susie – Everly Brothers
1957 – Country Hits: 1.Young Love – Sonny James, 2.There You Go – Johnny Cash, 3.Gone – Ferlin Husky, 4.All Shook Up – Elvis Presley, 5.A White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation) – Marty Robbins, 6.Honky Tonk Song – Webb Pierce, 7.Four Walls – Jim Reeves, 8.Bye Bye Love – Everly Brothers, 9.(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear – Elvis Presley, 10.Fraulein – Bobby Helms, 11.Am I Losing You” – Jim Reeves, 12.Auctioneer” – Leroy Van Dyke,
1958-Pop hits: 1. Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry, 2. Summertime Blues – Eddie Cochran, 3. Good Golly Miss Molly – Little Richard, 4. For Your Precious Love – Jerry Butler & the Impressions, 5. Sweet Little Sixteen – Chuck Berry, 6. Yakety Yak – Coasters, 7. La Bamba – Ritchie Valens, 8. Since I Don’t Have You – Skyliners, 9. Rumble – Link Wray, 10. Lonely Teardrops – Jackie Wilson, 11. Wake Up Little Susie – Everly Brothers, 12. Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
1958 – Country Hits: 1.The Story of My Life – Marty Robbins, 2.Great Balls of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis, 3.Balladof a Teenage Queen – Johnny Cash, 4.Oh Lonesome Me – Don Gibson, 5.Just Married – Marty Robbins, 6.All I Have to Do is Dream – Everly Brothers, 7.Guess Things Happen That Way – Johnny Cash, 8.Alone With You – Faron Young, 9.Blue Blue Day – Don Gibson, 10.Bird Dog – Everly Brothers, 11.City Lights – Ray Price
1959-Pop hits: 1. What’d I Say – Ray Charles, 2. I Only Have Eyes For You – Flamingos, 3. Mack The Knife – Bobby Darin, 4. There Goes My Baby – Drifters, 5. Shout – Isley Brothers, 6. Kansas City – Wilbert Harrison, 7. Poison Ivy – Coasters, 8. Money – Barrett Strong, 9. Love Potion No. 9 – Clovers, 10. You’re So Fine – Falcons
1959 – Country Hits: 1.Billy Bayou – Jim Reeves, 2.Don’t Take Your Guns to Town – Johnny Cash, 3.When It’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s Forty Below) – Johnny Horton, 4.White Lighting – George Jones, 5.The Battle of New Orleans – Johnny Horton, 6.Waterloo – Stonewall Jackson, 7.The Three Bells – The Browns, 8.Country Girl – Faron Young, 9.The Same Old Me – Ray Price, 10.El Paso – Marty Robbins,
*The source for some of the information on this page came from Wikpedia, an online encyclopedia. In particular, the song lists and some of the folk history.