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The Weavers iTunes Tracks

The Weavers

Formed 1947 and again November 1948 in Greenwich Village, NY, The WEAVERS embraced the folk-music world until they were unduly blacklisted by the un-American Activities Committee in 1952/53; one can’t help thinking how songs like `Kisses Sweeter Than Wine’, `The Wreck Of The John B.’ and `Follow The Drinking Gourd’ irked witch hunter general Joseph McCarthy and his right-wing lieutenants into such actions.
Having served their apprenticeships with post-WWII folkies The ALMANAC SINGERS, Lee Hays and Pete Seeger were joined by Fred Hellerman and female singer Ronnie Gilbert; a fifth member, Jackie Gibson, dropped out. Finding traditional source material for their blend of powerful balladry, folk-blues and gospel, the quartet charted several times in the early 50s (before charts were official); one of them `On Top Of Old Smoky’ (a 78) featured a guest spot for future EASY RIDERS singer TERRY GILKYSON.
The group’s barren period between ’53 and ’55 (in which Decca Records were forced to bar them from playlist and sale) was a puzzling time for The WEAVERS, having been tarred with many other innocent, law-abiding American citizens as communists, when their only crime was to protest against war(s) and rally for peace.
On December 24, 1955, The WEAVERS were encouraged by manager, Harold Levanthal, to reunite for at least one final gig, AT CARNEGIE HALL {*9}. As it turned out, when it was released in spring 1957 by Vanguard Records, it was deemed that their popularity was too much to deny a folk-resurgent audience; check it out at least for `Darling Corey’, `Rock Island Line’, `Wimoweh’, `I Know Where I’m Going’ and `Goodnight, Irene’.
Unhappy at the commercial sell-out (including a TV ad for cigarettes for one), and already a rising folk star in his own right, PETE SEEGER left on April Fool’s Day, 1958, and on his suggestion he was superseded by Erik Darling, a veteran session man of sorts and formerly part of The TARRIERS.
To mark their 15th year in the business, the group employed the services of FRANK HAMILTON and Bernie Krause (to replace ROOFTOP SINGERS founder DARLING) on their REUNION AT CARNEGIE HALL 1963 {*7} set; the originals, including SEEGER, regrouped again in 1965 for The WEAVERS REUNION Part 2 at Carnegie Hall {*6}; HAMILTON later found fame as a solo act (KRAUSE teamed up as a duo with PAIL BEAVER).
If one could recommended a video film documentary, one would have to vouch for WASN’T THAT A TIME! (1984). Sadly, although it was a fitting tribute to all the band members, it was a memorial for Lee Hays, who after many years confined to a wheelchair died on August 26, 1981 (around the turn of the 60s, he was also part of offshoot folk act The BABYSITTERS, who included in their ranks actor ALAN ARKIN, another ex-TARRIER).
Sadly, of late (2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively), three of America’s greatest folk activists, PETE SEEGER, RONNIE GILBERT and Fred Hellerman, died.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS May2015-Sep2016

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