Kingston Trio returns for a string of Park City shows
Concerts held at the Egyptian Theatre
The Kingston Trio has performed its own brand of folk music since the mid-1950s and is still an iconic group in American-music history.
Although the line-up has changed over the past 50 years, the songs — such as the Grammy Award-winning “Tom Dooley,” which is played in every show — still have special places in the hearts of its fans.
Taking the sentiment a step further, Park City is a special place for the Kingston Trio, said George Grove, who joined the group in 1976.
“The Egyptian Theatre is one of our favorite places to play,” Grove told The Park Record. “We love the intimacy of the place and it’s a perfect place to play the songs.”
The theater is also a great place to show the group’s dynamics, and Grove said his partners — Bill Zorn and Rick Dougherty — are gifted vocalists and musicians.
“Bill is an wonderful vocalist and big physical presence on stage,” Grove said. “He was in the group before I joined. He left to work with his brother, Pete, before coming back to the group after (founding member) Bob Shane had his heart attack in 2004.”
Both Grove and Zorn refer to Dougherty as the new boy.
“We call him that because he’s only been in the group for 12 years,” Grove said with a laugh. “Rick replaced Glenn Yarbrough in the Limeliters in the 1990s and he has an incredibly beautiful tenor voice.
“So, we have three different identities between us. When you put us together in a group it becomes, what I feel, a beautiful unity.”
Grove as a fan
Grove’s first introduction to the Kingston Trio was in 1958.
“My older sister brought home the album ‘Live at the Hungry I’ and put it on the record player,” he said. “As we listened to it, I said, ‘I’m going to be in that group one day.’”
The comment ticked off Grove’s sister.
“Not only did I steal her record album, I proclaimed something that she knew would never come true,” he said.
The comment was just another way Grove made his sister mad when they were children.
“I started playing the piano when I was 4 years old and the reason I did was because my sister took lessons and was struggling with her practice,” he said. “So I jumped on the piano and played what she was struggling with by ear. That ticked her off, so when I said I was going to join the Kingston Trio, it only made things worse.”
The funny thing about Grove’s comment to his sister was it came true.
Grove joins the group
“When I joined, the music and the group were well known in America, but the popularity of the group had been superseded by The Beatles and the rock ‘n’ roll era,” Grove said. “So, we, for a number of years, had to build back the interest in the Kingston Trio.”
While doing so, Grove and his bandmates realized the people coming to see them wanted to reminisce about the halcyon days of the Kingston Trio.
“Everyone who liked the Kingston Trio in the 1950s and 1960s were working hard on their careers in 1976, and they wanted to recall a time when life was simpler,” Grove said.
“At that same time, I began arranging our music for symphony orchestras because we were one of the first pop-vocal acts to perform pops concerts,” Grove said. “We did between 15 to 25 of those concerts annually between 1980 until 2008.”
Grove said he felt both comfortable and uncomfortable joining the group.
“That felt good because I was very familiar with the music,” he said. “I had grown up learning every vocal and instrumental part of the songs.”
The part that made him uncomfortable was the responsibility of joining a group that had grown to iconic stature in the history of American music.
“That’s when I felt like a deer in the headlights,” Grove said with a laugh. “I worked like that deer waiting for the car to hit me until 1981, when we did what we refer to as the reunion show.”
Grove becomes a member
“Kingston Trio & Friends” aired on PBS and featured the late Mary Travers from Peter, Paul & Mary. It also welcomed to the stage Tommy Smothers from The Smother’s Brothers, Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac and, of course, all three of the Kingston Trio’s original members who played together for the first time in 21 years.
“The performance also included John Stewart, who replaced Dave Guard in 1961, and the trio’s current members — Roger Gamble and myself,” Grove said. “I saw all three of the original members and John Stewart and wanted to take a back seat to it all.”
Travers and Smothers saw what was happening and took Grove aside.
“They said, ‘Hey, you belong here, because you’re adding a musical element that wasn’t in the group before,’” Grove said. “They were the ones who instilled in me the idea that I could work with this and not just work at it.
“I’m also glad to say that my sister and I love each other dearly and she is one of my strongest supporters.”
Kingston Trio will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 8, through Saturday, June 10, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. Thursday tickets range from $29 to $45. Tickets for Friday and Saturday range from $35 to $55. For information, visit http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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