Bud Dashiell’s Solo LPs, Part 2: Bud and the Kinsmen “Live”
Part 2 of “Bud Dashiell’s Solo LPs.” For Part 1, click HERE.
The studio album Bud Dashiell and the Kinsmen (W/WS-1429) was the final Warner Brothers LP of 1961, and the live follow-up — Bud Dashiell and the Kinsmen Play Everybody’s Hits (W/WS-1432) — was very nearly the first for 1962. Only Instant Party by the Everly Brothers (W/WS-1430) and Connie by Connie Stevens (W/WS-1431) kept the two Kinsmen LPs from being released back-to-back.
Perhaps Warner was concerned that Dashiell would patch things up sooner than later with former partner Travis Edmonson, and wanted to milk the act for everything they could, or that Bud had always intended the trio to last only so long. Suffice to say that very few groups signed to a major label — even in the era of 2-3 LPs a year by even the top acts — have released two records so closely together.*
Surprisingly, these nearly simultaneous releases took place amidst a group personnel change. C. Carson Parks tells the story this way (in the discography section of his website):
“One night, totally unexpected by me, Bud came into The Ice House and told me I was fired. I gathered my wits together, spoke privately to Bernie, saying ‘we joined as a unit; we can leave as a unit!’ Bernie said something in the nature of: ‘I have a wife and kids, etc,’ so I once again went with his plan.”
Ever resilient, Parks partnered with his younger brother, Van Dyke Parks (yes, that Van Dyke Parks), and they both soon gravitated to the Greenwood County Singers — a group built on the New Christy Minstrels “folk chorus” model — who eventually recorded four LPs for Kapp. It was as part of that group that he met Gaile Foote, with whom he formed the duo Carson and Gaile. Although the two didn’t hit it big, it was for THAT act that Parks penned “Something Stupid,” which became a huge hit for Frank and Nancy Sinatra. So you never know where getting fired will lead you.
Left to right, the “new” Kinsmen are Bud, Bernie and Everit. Bud’s dog must have stayed home.
Meanwhile, back at the Kinsmen, Everit Herter stepped in to the spot vacated by Parks. Herter’s lone recording experience was on a solo 45 rpm single for Capitol Records in 1960, “Don’t Get Serious”/”Boys Were Made For Girls” (Capitol 4383), and it was he who joined Dashiell and Armstrong on the stage of Glendale College on December 1, 1961 to record what would become the Kinsmen’s sophomore LP.
A live album close on the heels of a studio recording debut presented a problem. The group was too new to have arranged another full album of tunes (the vinyl was still wet on the first LP), so the playlist needed to come from somewhere else. This issue was solved in clever fashion. To quote the liner notes:
“When the Glendale gig was set up, it was decided that Bud and The Kinsmen would perform exclusively the hits of their compeers. Tuning their guitars to their most melodic, they set upon the hit parade of folk music.”
No hits of your own? Just sing everybody else’s! So here’s the “Folk Music Hit Parade,” and the artists (per the LP) associated with each:
- Marianne (The Easy Riders)
- The Whistling Gypsy (The Limeliters)
- Scarlet Ribbons (Harry Belafonte)
- Michael (The Highwaymen)
- I Almost Lost My Mind (Pat Boone)
- Matilda (Harry Belafonte)
- Jamaica Farewell (Harry Belafonte)
- Tom Dooley (Kingston Trio)
- Shenandoah (Burl Ives)
- Goodnight Irene (The Weavers)
- Greenfields (The Brothers Four)
- Guadalajara (Tito Guizar)
Performing songs made famous by certain acts didn’t, however, limit the boys to doing them with similar arrangements. For example, what passes for “Tom Dooley” on the back cover is actually a parody of the Kingston Trio hit. Then again, by 1962, even the Kingston Trio (now with John Stewart) was taking their biggest hit a lot lighter in concert. Of course, “Tom Dooley” had been low hanging fruit (and thus, “ripe” for parody) for all sorts of folk groups of the era, perhaps most notoriously by The Coachmen on their Subways of Boston LP (HIFI R-420), wherein they took off “Tom Dooley” and “MTA” in one satirical song. But I digress.
The other numbers on Everybody’s Hits are a potpourri. Most are well-polished, but a couple have the feel of a first chart read-through. Since it was a live album, the Dashiell wit is greatly in evidence. Herter proved himself more than adequate in this area (Maybe this is why he was drafted into the act?), and handled a good number of the song introductions and stage patter as well.
Adding to the musicality of the evening (though unmentioned in the liner notes…typical for the day) were percussionist Chico Guerrero and long-time Bud & Travis accompanist Carlos Gonzales.
So — finally — here are a few choice album cuts in glorious mono, highlighting examples of Bud’s humor as much as possible, starting with his introduction of the various ensemble members:
Here’s their silly send-up of “Tom Dooley.” Note how Bud pronounces “stabbed” as “stobbed,” the way it is written in some older transcriptions:
The next cut on the LP is “The Whistling Gypsy.” If you listen quick, you can hear Bud accidentally start his intro of “Tom Dooley” (“Throughout history…”) before he catches himself:
The group took a straight on approach to a few tunes, such as their rendition of “Greenfields.”
Here’s a fun song with a fun intro, Belafonte’s “Matilda”
Finally, the Kinsmen’s version of “Guadalajara,” a number which appeared on the Bud & Travis album Naturally the previous year. If there is any disconnect here, it is hearing Bud say that the song is “the kind of stuff that WE really dig…” since it’s pretty obvious that Bernie and Everit had very little connection to Spanish language numbers. Maybe it was just wishful thinking…
Speaking of wishful thinking…in 1963, to the delight of Bud & Travis fans everywhere, the two reunited, and the Kinsmen recorded no more, with Armstrong going on to become a program director on radio and Herter a photographer (if you know more details about either man, I’d love to hear from you). But that doesn’t mean they didn’t appear on another Warner album. In fact, Bud Dashiell and The Kinsmen were featured on Warner’s 1963 release Hoot Tonight! (W/WS-1512), which also heralded Lynn Gold, The Gateway Singers, The Phoenix Singers and the arrival of one of my personal favorites, The Modern Folk Quartet.
Warner’s Hoot Tonight!, one of the better compilations to be released during the folk era.
Besides marking the first LP appearance of the MFQ, this album is interesting for a few reasons. First, although it pretends to be a “live” LP, it’s actually a compilation with an announcer and crowd noise/applause added to it. Second, each featured artist gets two tracks, and the The Kinsmen’s are from different albums: “Wars of Germany” is a Bud solo from the debut album, and “Greenfields” is from the “live” LP. Third, only Bud is listed on the cover, though “The Kinsmen” made the list on the back. And finally, Warner’s biggest folk act — Peter, Paul & Mary — don’t even make an appearance, probably because they didn’t need the exposure.
Next: Bud Dashiell’s only true “solo” LP, I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today. Click HERE for Part 3.
*Maybe only Ricky Nelson and his parents, with three consecutive LPs to end 1957 for Imperial Records, top the Kinsmen in this regard. The three LPs were Ricky (LP-9048), the ultra-rare Ozzie & Harriet (LP-9049) and Ricky Nelson (LP-9050).