The Kingston Trio plays classic folk tunes at Vilar in Beaver Creek Friday
- What: The Kingston Trio Live
- When: 7 p.m. Oct. 6
- Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center
- Tickets: $50-$70
- More info: VilarPAC.org
The Kingston Trio helped revive the folk music movement in the late 1950s and 1960s with hits like “Tom Dooley,” which as a 45 rpm earned a gold record and led the band to earn a second gold record for the LP. And that was just the beginning of the trio’s success. In 2020, the last surviving original member of The Kingston Trio, Bob Shane, died at age 85, but not before asking the current members of The Kingston Trio to carry on the legacy.
In fact, all three current members of The Kingston Trio share deep ties with the band’s original members. Founding Kingston Trio member Nick Reynolds helped raise current trio guitarist and banjo player Mike Marvin when Marvin was a teenager; Reynolds was married to Marvin’s cousin, so the couple not only took Marvin in, but also taught him the musical ropes. He spent countless hours in rehearsals, learning everything from backstage support and the ins and outs of managing a band to how the trio chose and structured songs.
“They even consulted me, asking, ‘Did I like the songs on the album,'” Marvin said about his teen years. “Nick was my mentor and my hero. He was almost like a father.”
Shane asked Marvin and the other current band members, Tim Gorelangton and Buddy Woodward, to take over about 10 years ago. For most of his life, Gorelangton had also been close to Reynolds and John Stewart (who replaced co-founder Dave Guard); Gorelangton was the only other musician Reynolds had recorded with outside of the trio.
Woodward shared a deep connection with George Groove, who joined the trio in 1976 and acted as Woodward’s mentor.
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Through their shows, the current Kingston Trio recreates all of the iconic folk music, including “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “M.T.A.” (poor old Charlie) and “The Tijuana Jail.”
“The sound of the trio today is very close to the original, and that’s probably the reason why it’s so successful. Vocally, we’re very close — we measure up pretty well to the originals vocally — and, as far as arrangements, we’re spot on,” Marvin said. “For two solid hours, the audience is transported to another time in their lives.”
In fact, Marvin sent a recording of the current trio to his brother and his brother responded, “Why did you send me the original Kingston Trio?”
Unlike other bands that play a few hits and fill in shows with jams or lesser-known originals, The Kingston Trio sticks to what fans want to hear.
“We do all of the trio’s hits — and they had 11 or 12 hits — and most of the fan favorites that maybe people throughout the nation did not know,” Marvin said. “It’s a really well-balanced show.”
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Known for their soaring harmonies, clean-cut appearance and button-down shirts with stripes, the original Kingston Trio restored the reputation of folk music, which Senator Joe McCarthy had scarred through his witch hunt for anything hinting of communism — at least in his mind. The Kingston Trio steered clear of radical messages (though they wrote “the rights of men have been threatened” with a burdensome tax in the form of a subway fare increase in the upbeat and humorous, yet tragic, “M.T.A” and sang about death from war in “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”). Their approach ushered folk music back into the mainstream, and onto the radio again, paving the way for other legends like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary. The Kingston Trio’s music connected people during challenging times, much like it does now.
“It’s completely fun and completely compelling and poignant, and it brings people together,” Marvin said. “Overall, the evening always, always leaves people satisfied that they’ve spent quality time — that’s what they tell me.”
The ‘Hot Dog’ connection
Mike Marvin has not only carved out a name for himself as a musician, but he’s also known for his ski movies. Marvin wrote, produced and edited ski sequences for the ski-cult classic, “Hot Dog.”
He’s a pioneer of extreme ski footage in films, including the 1972 feature-length ski film “Earth Rider,” which featured the legendary ski-parachute jump off Yosemite’s El Capitan. He also worked on ski footage for “The Spy Who Loved Me.”
He based the main character of “Hot Dog” on his own experience working in the ski industry.
“The whole movie’s real and true — it all happened,” he said, admitting that he did exaggerate the truth to make it even funnier. “It was a sexy comedy with big ski sequences nobody had ever seen.”
In addition to sharing stories about his early days with The Kingston Trio, Marvin will tell fun stories about his ski and filmmaking adventures, including the fact that some of the scenes in the ski flicks were shot in Vail, before the Vilar Performing Arts Center ever existed.