Posted by: suek2001 | March 20, 2010

The Kingston Trio- a Stage’s Best Friend


As anyone who knows me can attest, I LOVE Duluth. My city is a beautiful city with great people, great views and lousy jobs. Well, two of three ain’t bad. I have been asked a million times “Why don’t you leave to search for work?” I can’t. This is home. Today, however, it feels like a long way from home. In about an hour, the Kingston Trio will take the stage at the Paramount Theater in St. Cloud, MN. I feel like I should be there. I feel like I’m musically home when I’m there.

I have written a lot over the years about my discovery of the Kingston Trio. This blog won’t be about that.

Instead, it will be a stroll down memory lane of a lot the concerts I have been to. For to love the Kingston Trio, is to see them live. Bob Shane once said the Trio really is a concert band and albums came second. As lauded as these albums are, the concerts are really the best part.

 I saw the Kingston Trio in June of 1997 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. I was beyond excited as this would be my first show. My Aunt Betsy was the one who bought the tickets and we had seats that were like a supper club. I couldn’t see all the members all the time but I did see one member the most.

It was the first time I got a look at the new kid. His name was George Grove. I knew Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds from the photos on their album covers but George was new to me. He added a zest and humor that really made the Trio shine.

 I didn’t stay after to try to meet them as the crowds swarmed the tables. Still, I loved that show and it was a dream come true. After listening to them on record for ten years, I saw them live and that’s what mattered.

 Over the years, weather has played a weird part of the journey to each Kingston Trio concert. There was the “godless” tornado in St. Paul on May 15th, 1998. It hit a few miles away from the concert hall and had Nick in puzzlement as he famously said “They told us to stay away from the windows so I had to see what the hell was going on”. I still hear that dry wit of his all these years later.

 There was the ongoing ice storm that hit the Minneapolis area in January of 1999. That made a helluva long drive out to Mystic Lake Casino. It also prompted Betsy and I to sing “Stay Awhile” for over an hour straight both too and from the concert keeping Betsy from freaking out while driving. I played that song for her at her funeral to remind her that every journey deserves a great song to go with it.

 Today, there’s flood threats, and cold weather which has the hint of snow in the air. It can only mean one thing. George Grove has crossed into Minnesota.

 I could list a dozen memories of private moments I have shared with the various line ups. Conversations with George that still hang with me are what I treasure. I value our friendship too much to share the deeper things and I don’t want to come off as en elitist or inner circle diva.

I will share some of the more light-hearted moments. George admiring my friend’s glow in the dark shoes. Watching Bob Shane eat White Castle burgers and look content. Meeting Nick Reynolds briefly before the 1998 concert and only exchanging glances. Having George say “I’m really glad you came tonight” after driving through that fabled ice storm. Hearing George sing “Jocko” just for me. Having Bob Shane explain how the Trio came to be to my friend who didn;t know a thing about it. As she asked in her Jersey accent, “So, are you an original or what?” I almost died of embarrasment but Shane just smiled and said “Yeah, we did for the chicks and beer”.

All of these memories are classic and well worth reliving. I only wish I could add to them tonight. Still, I will miss what George Grove, Bill Zorn and Rick Dougherty bring to the concert hall. Their voices in harmony, their instruments ringing out and their spirits converging into a sort of folk brotherhood like no other Kingston Trio has seen. These men are the real deal. They may not have been on those hit singles all those years ago but names on record labels aren’t what counts. The music is what matters.

These guys love each other and love the fans and I know Bob Shane loves them enough to entrust the Kingston Trio name to them. If they come to a town near you. Go see them. If you ever need a companion to one of these concerts, see me. I would love to introduce you to the musical home of the Kingston Trio, the concert stage.



  1. Nice, working the WKRP reference into the post. (Godless Tornatoes)

  2. […] […]

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