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The Chad Mitchell Trio: Singin’ Our Minds

Mike Kobluk, Chad Mitchell & Joe Frazier

Mike Kobluk, Chad Mitchell & Joe Frazier

This was the first Chad Mitchell Trio album that I bought. I had planned to give it to my sister as a Christmas present (I didn’t have much money then), but I read the liner notes and became so intrigued that I opened the album and “test played” it. That was when I decided that I would buy her something else and keep the album for myself. 

The trio had released four or five albums, maybe six, if you count a best of album. The other albums were released by Colpix and Kapp records. The trio also appeared on Harry Belafonte’s second Carnegie Hall album. This was their first album on the Mercury label.

The album was released in 1963 when I was in high school. I started saving money so that I could buy earlier albums and then buy new albums as they were released. I loved their topical music as much as the more traditional music that they performed. Nobody else, that I was aware of, was singing about the John Birch Society, Billy Sol Estes, Ross Burnett, or Barry Goldwater. I was something of a political (left leaning) junkie, so these songs appealed to me.

One of they performed was Barry’s Boys, which dealt with the young followers of Barry Goldwater who was running for President of The United States. I remember that song specifically because they changed the line “Shut the door, lock and latch it. here comes Lizzie with a brand new hatchet,” which was a reference to their first semi-hit song Lizzie Borden, with the line “Here’s a riddle, it’s a real killer. Who the hell is William Miller?” Now, it has been around fifty years since I attended that concert, so I may not have quoted their line quite right, but it brought a big laugh from the audience. Oh, and if you don’t remember, William Miller was Barry’s running mate on the ballot that year.

When I was a senior in high school the trio came to perform a concert at the Morris Civic Auditorium (now the Morris Performing Arts Center http://www.morriscenter.org/history.php) in South Bend. I knew that I had to go see my favorite folk group. This was the first concert to which I went where I paid my own way. I found four other friends who wanted to go, so we made it a field trip.

For me it was a magical concert. To my mind they were better in person than on record. Jacob Ander accompanied them on guitar and Paul Prestopino accompanied on guitar, banjo and mandolin. As an aside, years later Cindy and I attended a Peter, Paul & Mary concert, and there was Paul Prestopino as their accompanist. 

Time went on, Chad Mitchell left the group, John Denver replaced Chad, Joe Frazier, who had replaced Mike Pugh,  left the group and was replaced by David Boise, Mike Kobluk left the group and in effect the group disbanded. That is when I stopped buying albums, because there were no new ones produced.

Luckily, Collector’s Choice records has released all of the trio’s Kapp, Mercury and Reprise albums in CD format. If you want to sample the music, there are a few songs available on YouTube. If you like folk music or just want to see what was happening in the 60’s, check them out.

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