Carolyn Hester in concert at New York Citys Town Hall. Hesters clear, keening voice, accompanied by George Tomscos guitar, poured forth with the combination of wistfulness and idealism that characterized the eras folk movement. Equally at home with traditional songs and the work of the eras singer-songwriters (among them Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs), and unafraid of something as ambitious as her own musical setting of Whitmans Captain, My Captain, Hester conveys an intimate involvement with everything she sings. This 24-song CD is a wonderful document of special concert by an overlooked treasure of the folk era.
George Tomsco guitar.
In February 1965, Norman Petty (Buddy Holly's mentor),recorded
Bruce Langhorne, Carolyn, Bob Dylan and Bill Lee (filmmaker Spike Lee's father), in 1961 in New York City, about to record "I'll Fly Away."
This recording is probably the best existing representation of Hester's work, capturing her voice in all of its natural vibrancy, in a setting where spontaneity matters more than control. The repertory may also explain -- along with Hester's Southern/Texas twang -- why she never quite caught on with folk audiences nationwide. By 1965, Hester was already falling behind the times -- she does some topical songs like Phil Ochs' "What's That I Hear" and Gil Turner's "Carry It On," and her own haunting and ominous "Three Young Men," a tribute to murdered civil rights workers Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney; her choice of a Dylan song, "Playboys and Playgirls," however, and her Kennedy tribute "Captain, My Captain" (an old poem set to her own music, which works beautifully) were both just archaic enough by 1965 standards to show more thoughtfulness than the burgeoning, ever-angrier, and more political folk/protest audience of the mid- to late '60s was looking for. And the presence of a lot of traditional songs such as "Water Is Wide" (beautifully sung) would've been ideal a year or two earlier, but by 1965 represented a period of the folk song revival that was already losing its edge with audiences and passing into history. Joan Baez and Judy Collins were more engaged politically, though one surprise for rock fans is Billy Ed Wheeler's "High Flying Bird," a song associated with the Jefferson Airplane of this approximate era. This disc not only contains the unedited tape of the Town Hall concert, in which Hester is backed up by fellow guitarist George Tomsco, but four additional songs from another concert. Her voice here not only evokes images of Nanci Griffith, but also a young Emmylou Harris. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide
There are few vintage concert recordings that capture the spirit of an artist and the audience as aptly as Carolyn Hester at the Town Hall. Although the infusion of rock & roll would take Hester's chosen brand of traditional folk to the proverbial next level. Unlike many around her, she remains faithful to the core-governing principles of the genre. She never complicated the already involved tales with unnecessary instrumentation or oblique lyrical references, à la the direction that Bob Dylan moved the genre.
Carolyn Hester & Bob Dylan, Sep 29, 1961 (Don Hunstein).
Along with George Tomsco (acoustic guitar), Hester also accompanies herself with her own intimately lyrical acoustic six-string fretwork. The repertoire is packed with traditional renderings of folk standards such as "Water Is Wide," "Buckeye Jim," and the Scottish "Jute Mill Song." There are also a fair number of modernized classics, including "Come on In," "High Flying Bird," and a languidly picked reading of the Gershwin pop standard "Summertime." Perhaps the most noteworthy cover is an adaptation of Walt Whitman's "Captain, My Captain," which conjures the memories of Jawaharlal Nehru, John F. Kennedy, and Winston Churchill. Her slight Texan drawl contrasts her clear, chiming vocals. Undoubtedly the simple recording procedures and productions of Norman Petty likewise have a great deal to do with the enveloping atmosphere that not only accurately reproduces the stage performers, but also captures the enthusiastic audience. The audience is particularly vocal and participatory on "Sing Hallelujah" as the hosannas ring with overwhelming, if not slightly intimidating solidarity. When this title was issued on CD in 1990 by the German Bear Family label, the contents of her two volumes of Town Hall material were augmented with an additional four sides from a different performance from the mid-'60s with Stanley Lark on acoustic upright bass. Review AMG by Lindsay Planer @@@
A traditional song about the Irish famine recorded in 1963 as part of "Bob Dylan and Co."that another member put up. It was also on Carolyn's second Columbia LPCarolyn Hester Vocals & acoustic guitar.
George Tomsco guitar.
1 Come on Back 2 Come on In 3 2:10 Train 4 Captain, My Captain
5 Water Is Wide 6 Carry It On 7 High Flying Bird 8 Three Young Men
9 Outward Bound 10 The Weaving Song 11 Sing Hallelujah
12 That's My Song 13 Summertime 14 It Takes So Long 15 Ain't That Rain
16 Buckeyed Jim 17 Will You Send Your Love? 18 Jute Mill Song
19 What's That I Hear? 20 Where Did My Little Boy Go? 21 Sidewalk City
22 I Saw Her 23 The Bad Girl 24 Playboys and Playgirls
Producer Norman Petty