From the Land of Band Box Records

Folk Goes Pop! Pop! Pop!

From Paul Payton – August 8th, 2017:

“Wow, Craig, you’re certainly on a “folkum” tear lately. It’s fun, though, and I’m enjoying it thoroughly! It’s as though the group was an all-star prep school for LA-area musicians.  A note about Keith Barbour, The Jabberwocks were the Brown University male a cappella group. I think he graduated before I got there. His hit “Echo Park” was written by Buzz Clifford, the guy responsible for “Baby Sittin’ Boogie”.  My favorites by them are the beautiful “Today” (many places on YouTube) and “Sleep Comes Easy,” a Columbia single apparently not available on-line, but there is this version from a First Edition reunion in 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFhlTmDxmvk. It’s not the same as the NCM’s 45….”

New Christies – Back Porchers – Serendipities

The New Christy Minstrels were the brain-child of folkie Randy Sparks a musical troupe he put together in 1961.  Over the years – with only a five year interruption from 1971 through 1976, the group featured more than 300 musicians! (more than 30 have passed away).

The upbeat, cheerful Minstrels were a natural extension of the scrubbed-clean folkies who had hit the scene finding their way onto the popular charts introducing a watered down version of the purest genre.  The Kingston Trio started things off in 1958 with “Tom Dooley” a massive hit which managed a number 1 rating for a week – one of the few modern folk songs to attain that lofty pinnacle.  But then in 1961 they were actually topped by The Highwaymen’s “Michael” which topped out at number 1 for two weeks.

Peter, Paul and Mary came close – twice – with “Puff The Magic Dragon” accompanied by all that junior high school speculation as to “the meaning of the lyrics” and followed by “Blowing in the Wind” both in 1963 and both reaching number 2.   The Brothers Four were close behind the Kingstons in 1960 with their number 2 hit “Greenfields”.

You could say that Peter, Paul and Mary opened the door for Bob Dylan although I’m sure he would have found his own way through without them, but he wouldn’t break onto the charts until 1965, when he had already “gone electric” (GASP!!!!) and showcased his “Subterranean Homesick Blues”.  From my point of view, I’m glad he set the old acoustic aside as often as he did.  I can listen to “Like a Rolling Stone” any old time, over and over.  Thanks Al Kooper for the nice touch!.

‘Sunshine’ Folk Groups

Randy Sparks was born July 29th in 1933 in Leavenworth, Kansas.  He began performing in the San Francisco folk venue, “The Purple Onion” in the late 1950’s before forming “The Randy Sparks Three” a group which included his wife Jackie Miller along with Nick Woods.

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He then went on to put together the New Christy Minstrels in 1961

His first effort was a 14-member ensemble which included the Sparks Three as well as “The Inn Group” which included John Forsha, Jerry Yester and Karol Dugan.  Also included were members of “The Fairmont Singers” including Terry Cudmore, Billy Cudmore, Dolan Ellis and Art Podell.  The Minstrels were rounded out with four additional members.

New Christy Alumni

As mentioned above, The New Christy Minstrels through the years had more than 300 musicians pass through their ranks.  Here are a few of the more noted members:

Christine Andreas (1971 Member)

Christine became a Broadway performer.

Keith Barbour (1967 Member)

Keith was a member of “The Jabberwocks” a college a cappella group.

Karen Black (1967 Member)

Went on to a successful acting career.

Kim Carnes (1966 Member)

Kim found 1970’s fame as a solo artist.

Gene Clark (1963 Member)

Clark went on to fame with “The Byrds”.  Was also with “Dillard and Clark” and then “McGuinn, Clark & Hillman” a “Byrds” reunion project of sorts.

The Byrds

Peggy Connelly (1962 Member – Deceased)

Connelly was a singer, dancer and actor – She appeared in the film “Houseboat”.  She became a member of a trio called “The Jazzberries” in the 1990’s.

Dolan Ellis (1962 Member)

Ellis returned to the group in 2006.

Linda Hart (1971 Member)

Linda became a Broadway performer.

Pete Henderson (1965 Member – Rejoined in 2010 and also 2015)

Was a part of the duo “Skiles and Henderson”.

Barry McGuire (1962 Member)


Terry Anne Meeuwsen (1970 Member)

Terry Anne became “Miss America” in 1973 and hosted “The 700 Club”.

Larry Ramos (1962 Member – Deceased)

Larry went on to join a second edition of “The Association”.

Kenny Rogers (1966 Member)

Kenny founded “The First Edition” and went onto solo fame.  In the late 1950’s he cut records under the name “Lee Harrison” and “Kenny Rogers The First”.

Image result for kenny rogers

Gene Roman (1963 Member)

Mike Settle (1966 Member)

Mike would go with Kenny Rogers to the “First Edition” – Was part of the group “Running Bear & Goldstein”.  He was the voice on a cereal box cut out record performing as “The Sugar Bears” which was produced by Jimmy Bowen, Kim Carnes and others.  The “group” also released three singles on the Big Tree label.

Baxter Taylor (1962 Member)

Taylor was previously a member of “The Wayferers” folk group

Jerry Yester (1961 Member)

Yester was the brother of Jim Yester of “The Association”.  He earlier performed with Judy Henske. He was also with “The Modern Folk Quintet” and then “The Lovin’ Spoonful”.

Randy Sparks Discography

1957 – 45 – “Once They Were Young”/Bright Moon, Bright Star”

1958 – 45 – “Good Intentions”/”I’ll Fall In Love In The Spring”

1958 – 45 – “Down Thunder Road”/”The Hangman”

1958 – 45 – “Walkin’ The Low Road”/”Jamaica Fisherman”

1958 – 45 – “Strange Are The Ways Of Love”/”King Cotton”

1959 – 45 – “These Thousand Hills”/”I Never Had A Chance”

1960 – 45 – “The Big Night”/”South Coast”

1960 – 45 – (The Randy Sparks Three) – “Julianne”/”Pocket Full Of Blues”

1964 – 45 – “Julie Knows” #126 Billboard “At The End of The Rainbow”

1965 – 45 – “Follow Me”/”My Love, My Happiness”

1970 – 45 – “Following a Dream”/”In Your New World”

1971 – “Hazy Sunshine”/”And I Love You”

The New Christy Minstrels Long Play Discography

1962 – LP – “The New Christy Minstrels Exciting New Folk Chorus Under the Direction of Randy Spark” – #19 Billboard

1963 – LP – “The New Christy Minstrels In Person” – #30 Billboard

1963 – LP – “The New Christy Minstrels Tell Tall Tales Legends & Nonsense” – #20 Billboard

1963 – LP – The New Christy Minstrels Ramblin’ featuring Green, Green” – #15 Billboard

1963 – LP – “Merry Christmas” – #5 Billboard Holiday Charts

1964 – LP – “The New Christy Minstrels Advance to the Rear” – #9 Billboard

1965 – LP – “Land of Giants” – #48 Billboard

1965 – LP – “The New Christy Minstrels Sing and Play Cowboys and Indians” – #62 Billboard

1965 – LP – “Chim Chim Cher-ee” – #22 Billboard

1965 – LP – “The Wandering Minstrels” – #125 Billboard

1966 – LP – “Greatest Hits The New Christy Minstrels” – #76 Billboard

1970 – LP – “You Need Someone To Love” – #195 Billboard

New Christy Minstrels 45-Inch Discography

1962 – 45 – “This Land is Your Land” – #93 Billboard

1963 – 45 – “Green, Green” – #14 Billboard

1963 – 45 – “Denver” – #127 Billboard

1963 – 45 – “Saturday Night” – #29 Billboard

1964 – 45 – “Special Album Excerpt”

1964 – 45 – “Today” – #17 Billboard

1964 – 45 – “Silly ‘Ol Summertime – #92 Billboard

1965 – 45 – “Chim, Chim Cheree” – #81 Billboard

1965 – 45 – “A Little Bit of Happiness”/”Jim ‘N’ I, Him ‘N’ I, Flying in the Gemini”

1965 – 45 – “Born to Be Free”/”Everybody Loves Saturday Night”

1965 – 45 – “Gotta Get a Goin'” – #111 Billboard

1966 – 45 – “Dance My Trouble Away (Zorba’s Dance)”/”There But For Fortune”

1966 – 45 – “The Music of The World A Turnin'” b/w If I Could Start My Life Again”

1966 – 45 – “Beautiful, Beautiful World”/”A Corner in the Sun”

1966 – 45 – “We Need a Little Christmas”/”O Holy Night”

1966 – 45 – Columbia Christmas Special Release

1966 – 45 – “Sleep Comes Easy”/”It Should Have Been You”

1967 – 45 – “I’ll Coat Your Mind With Honey”/”Night and Day”

1968 – 45 – “Where Did Our Love Go”/”Stop in the Name of Love”

1968 – 45 – “Alice’s Restaurant”/”Summertime Love”

1968 – 45 – “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”/”Me Old Bam Boo”

1969 – 45 – “Hey Jude-Atlantis”/Run Wild, Run Free”

1971 – 45 – “You Need Someone To Love”/”South American Get Away”

1971 – 45 – “Brother”/”I Still Do”

1971 – 45 – “You Are Always on My Mind”/”Where Are You Then”

1972 – 45 – “Love It Along”/”The Age of Not Believing”

The Back Porch Majority Discography

Only one single from The Back Porch Majority even dented the Billboard Charts – and then only on the “Bubbling Under” charts. None of their LP’s managed to dent the Hot 200 charts.

1965 – LP – “Live From Ledbetter’s”

1965 – LP – “Randy Sparks Presents The Back Porch Majority Riverboat Days!”

1965 – LP – “Meet the Back Porch Majority”


1966 – LP – That’s The Way It’s Gonna Be”

1967 – LP – “The Willy Nilly Wonder of Illusion”

1965 – 45 – “Hand Me Down Things”/”Friends”

1965 – 45 – “Smash Flops”/”Jack O’Diamonds”

1965 – 45 – “Ol’ Dan Tucker”/”Ramblin’ Man”

1965 – 45 – “Good-Time Joe”/”A Song of Hope”

1966 – 45 – “Second-Hand-Man” #104 Billboard “That’s The Way It’s Gonna Be”

1966 – 45 – “Honey and Wine”/”Brother John”

1966 – 45 – “Slippery Sal and Dirty Dan, The Oyster Man”/”Once Again”

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