By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
SEQUIM — With songs such as “Scotch and Soda,” “Tom Dooley” and “Zombie Jamboree,” the Kingston Trio wrote its name into American musical history a good 50-plus years ago.
Today, a newer version of the trio is singing those songs, plus others like “M.T.A.,” “A Worried Man” and “They Call the Wind Maria” on a national tour that will stop in Sequim this Saturday night.
Mark Pearson of the Brothers Four will open the show at 5 p.m. at the James Center for the Performing Arts, the outdoor venue just north of Carrie Blake Park at 202 N. Blake Ave. The event is part of the Sequim centennial celebration and a prelude to Lavender Weekend of July 19-21.
George Grove, 65, a singer and banjo man with the trio since 1976, is eager to spread some of that Kingston-style harmony here, and to make music with his contemporaries. Pearson, he added, is “a dear friend and a marvelously talented musician. We’re looking forward to being with old friends.”
Tickets are selling on a three-tiered basis: $25 for general admission lawn seating — people are urged to bring blankets or beach chairs — and $40 for reserved infield seating.
For “golden circle” seats in the front five rows, tickets are $55. Outlets include the Purple Haze Lavender shop at 127 W. Washington St. and Windermere Real Estate at 842 E. Washington St., both in Sequim, and Coog’s Budget CDs, 111 W. Front St. in Port Angeles, as well as www.BrownPaperTickets.com.
The current Kingston Trio is composed of Grove, who remembers hearing the original trio back when he was an aspiring singer in Nashville; Rick Dougherty, a former member of the Limeliters, and Bill Zorn, who’s been both a Limeliter and the leader of the New Christy Minstrels.
Back in 1957 when the original Kingston Trio — Dave Guard, Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds — came out of San Francisco, their sound was plain irresistible, Grove recalls.
Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley were big. But with the young people, Grove said, those guys were passe; there was no new music teenagers could grab onto and say, “That’s mine.”
Then, along came the three guys fascinated with folk harmonies and Jamaican calypso music, hence the Kingston name.
“They sang with gusto . . . and they looked like they were looking for the next party,” Grove said.
The trio’s album “Live at the Hungry I,” recorded at a San Francisco club, was a smash in 1959, with its “Wimoweh,” “Shady Grove/Lonesome Traveller,” “The Merry Minuet” and “Zombie Jamboree,” a song evoking the Caribbean island of Trinidad.
In Kingston Trio shows these days, “we keep it light, entertaining and funny,” Grove promised.
When the music flows, “there’s something magic that happens. It erases the years . . . it’s the fountain of youth for us.”
Grove is the longest continuous member of the trio; Shane invited him to join the group 37 years ago. At that time Grove replaced Zorn, who had been a Kingston Trio singer for a few years before moving to England.
Shane, the last original member still with the trio, retired in 2004. Zorn returned to the group that year, and Dougherty joined in 2005.
“My two partners are incredibly talented,” said Grove.
The Kingston Trio men do other things in other cities: Dougherty lives in Alameda, Calif., on San Francisco Bay, Zorn lives in Phoenix, and Grove has been in Las Vegas for 16 years. He also plays piano and trumpet, and holds a master’s in jazz composition from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. And then there’s his craving for classical music.
“I’m a Chopin freak,” Grove said.
He plays the Romantic composer’s music whenever he has some time to himself.
So has he ever been to Kingston, Jamaica, that place that inspired his trio’s name and sound?
“No, I haven’t,” Grove replied. “I’ve been working too hard.”