Sharing a stage with John Stewart was not for the weak at heart. John could be generous onstage or he could be cranky. The two people who saw the most of this were Dave Batti and Chuck McDermott.
Yesterday, as I was listening to the two cd set recorded at the Floral Pavillion in Merseyside, England, I found this track that features Chuck on a song called Evangeline. It’s a very nice song and Chuck does a great job on it but the intro by John is Classic Stage Stewart. I think Chuck wrote this song and I don’t know if it was ever released on an album.
Here’s Chuck McDermott singing
While I was researching the song, looking for it’s history, I found another Evangeline. In fact, I found two. Same song but very, very different versions. John loved to tinker with his songs. Sometimes inadvertently but most often because it made them more interesting to him. Some, like Daydream Believer, Pirates and Mother Country, remained intact. Others became fair game for his artistic pleasure.
Here is Evangeline from the Rough Sketches album, recorded in 1995:
and here’s the same song from the Bandera album. I believe that the Bandera album featured a group of Scottish musicians who called themselves Lies, Damned Lies. John met them through his great friend Andy Fergus who brought about the recording of Bandera, recorded in 1997:
One of the great things about seeing and hearing John onstage and live was that you couldn’t always be certain what he was going to do or how he was going to do it. Just ask Dave Batti the next time you see him.
In just a few weeks it will be time to start the drive west to the 15th annual Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp. It wasn’t always called the Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp. The first nine years we were just the Trio Fantasy Camp. Bob Shane owned the Kingston Trio name and he preferred (and rightly so) that we not use the group’s name.
John loved the days that we spent at the Camp. He loved Arizona and he particularly loved Phoenix.
And one of the highlights of Camp is to be able to hear the John Stewart Band play. This year they’ll be back for the umpteenth time. Dave Batti, Chuck McDermott, John Hoke, Dennis Kenmore, Dave Crossland and the great Bob Hawkins.
Here’s John and Chuck from a 1984, concert in Merseyside, England. It’s a long one, 9:38, and a great medley of California Bloodlines, Armstrong and Cheyenne. John and Chuck. Ringing guitars and great harmony.
If you can make it to Scottsdale for the gig I can guarantee a mighty time.
Click the link to hear the song.
John and chuck
My previous post featured the set by John Stewart and the World’s Largest Folk Band. On Friday night, during the Tribute to John, the Kingston Trio consisting of Bob Shane, George Grove and Bobby Haworth performed. I’ve said it before; I was never a fan of the Kingston Trio. I didn’t know the music and it had little appeal to me. That night the Trio did Hard Ain’t It Hard and one of my all-time favorite songs- Chilly Winds. Bob’s voice was terrific and George’s playing was stellar.
Here they are- The Kingston Trio singing Chilly Winds.
Every year on this date I listen to some of the live recordings that I have of John Stewart. Some of the recordings are solo and some are with Dave Batti. Others are with Buffy and a few are with Henry Diltz or Tom DeLisle.
I usually wind up feeling pretty morose and missing John even more by the end of the evening.
This year I decided to turn it around 180 degrees. Let a little joy into the room.
In the spring of 2001, the World Folk Music Association honored John with a Lifetime Achievement Award. On Friday night he was honored with performances by Rosanne Cash, Nancy Griffith, Noel Paul Stookey, The Kingston Trio and many others including his band mates from the ‘world’s loudest folk band’ era. It was a great evening.
On Saturday night Dick Cerri asked John if he and the band wanted to do a few songs. Big mistake. John gathered up Buffy, Pete and Maura Kennedy, Dave Batti, John Hoke, Chuck McDermott, Dennis Kenmore, Henry Diltz and Dave Crossland. What followed was a 25 minute jam session that, as John said to me as he was leaving the stage ‘left ’em bleeding from the ears’.
This puppy is 25 minutes long and it might take a short time to load but it’s well worth hearing.
John- we’re still running with this thing you started and we still remember you.
You’ve been on my mind all day. DeLisle, Dave and I miss you. I know that Chuck does, too. And Buffy and all of the kids, of course. You were the topic of alot of stories last week at Camp. DeLisle told most of them and I’d have given alot to hear your laugh.
I think this might have been the last song that I emailed you. It was recorded at the Floral Pavillion in Merseyside, England in 1984. You and ‘the young lad’ Chuck McDermott. I think Buffy was on the tour, too, but this song is just you and Chuck. It’s a song that I’ve always loved but not one that everyone knows.
Hey Stewart? Happy Birthday.
click the blue link to hear the song
Today was day three of the drive from Yellow Springs to Scottsdale. The Kingston Trio Music Camp is a joyous time for everyone who knew John Stewart and his music. Driving west has been even more interesting to me this year because I seem to hear his songs around every corner. I hear Missouri Birds as we were making the seemingly never-ending drive from Rolla to Springfield and then I hear Cowboy in the Distance when we went through Joplin. It was so loud that I had to leave Dave Batti a voice mail to tell hm where I was. He picked up the reference right away, of course. I don’t know if John had any songs that referenced Oklahoma but I did hear a pretty passable version of 24 Hours From Tulsa that I think he would have appreciated. Then through the panhandle of Texas and into New Mexico where we passed near Roswell, one of his favorite places being the UFO fan that he was. Called DeLisle and yakked at him. Telling Stewart stories until the reception went away. They’ll be continued at 2am out by the pool. Then San Jon where the Dogs of San Jon still bark in the night. And up the hill to 7100 feet and a freight train coming toward us shining his light on the cool New Mexico rain. Gimme a break. It was close enough.
Tomorrow we cross the rest of New Mexico. Hit Holbrook, Arizona, and head down the Bee Line Highway for Scottsdale. There are going to be old friends and new friends waiting for us or arriving soon. We’ll all sit by the pool and laugh and talk about Johnny Moonlight and how we owe our friendship to his talent.
I’ll leave you with this song. I don’t know if I’ve ever published it and so what if I did. It’s good enough to hear again. The story is that it was written after John met Roseane Cash’s nanny. She was a farm girl from Missouri in New York City and this is how John came to:
Cowboy In The Distance
Click on the blue link to hear the song.
He also happens to be one of my favorite people. His name is Garry Ball and he was a friend of Kris’s before I met him. That means I’ve known him close to 30 years and maybe a bit longer. Garry plays guitar and writes songs. He also gave guitar lessons for years but I think I may have cured him of that desire. Actually, I took lessons from him for several years and it was more of a therapy session for both of us than a teaching/learning experience. We’d sit and talk music; he’d show me exactly what I was doing wrong, then he’d show me again a few minutes later, then he’d give up. But we had a great time! And I got to hear him play and sing his songs.We also both love guitars. I added it up a few minutes ago and I’ve bought four from him (Martin D41, Goodall RCJ, Collings Om3, Gibson AJ) and he’s bought two from me (Martin D15, Crafters of Tennessee TNFT Resonator) We both have all of them except the Gibson which neither one of us liked very much.
Garry is serious about this stuff. He’s been to the Swannanoa Gathering and studied with the best of the singer-songwriters. He’s befriended and been befriended by many of the finest. He recently released his first full length cd, Frozen Smile, and I took a copy with me on our trip to Ireland. It got regular play time for the whole month. I knew a few of the songs but was impressed with all of them. They’re well-crafted and beautifully performed.
This is one of my favorite tracks from the cd. It’s a song that he originally wrote with the idea of presenting it to the producers of the TV program Justified.
Click the link below to hear Garry sing
I Am Justified
You can order the cd, Frozen Smile, from Garry by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The cost is $12 including shipping.
Remember, support your own local heroes. They’re the front lines of music.