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The Weavers

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The Weavers, an American folk group, began in 1947 and consisted of Ronnie Gilbert, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, and often Erik Darling. The name came from an 1892 drama of the same name by Gerhart Hauptmann. They inspired the commercial “folk boom” that followed them in the 1950s and 1960s, including such acts as The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary.

The group’s first big hit was in 1949 with Leadbelly’s Goodnight Irene, backed with the 1941 Israeli song Tzena, Tzena, Tzena. In keeping with the commercial taste of the time, these and other early Weavers releases had violins and orchestration added behind the group’s own guitars and folk instruments.

The Weavers’ records and concerts helped popularize many of the songs now considered standards in the folk repertoire, including “On Top of Old Smoky” (with guest vocalist Terry Gilkyson), “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” “Kisses Sweeter than Wine,” “The Wreck of the John B (aka “Sloop John B”),” “Rock Island Line,” “The Midnight Special,” “Pay Me My Money Down,” and “Darling Corey.” The Weavers encouraged sing-alongs in their concerts, and Seeger would sometimes shout out the lyrics in advance of each line.

The Weavers eventually came under political pressure because of their history of singing protest songs and folk songs favoring labor unions, as well as for the leftist political beliefs of the individuals in the group.

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  • AnarchyKM

    Mahalo! I love you! RIP

    8 Mar 7:11am Reply
  • BrianJohnson89

    American folk music in its best.

    5 Nov 2012 Reply
  • Arkarian_o

    ooooooh kisses sweeter than wine!

    13 Nov 2011 Reply
  • epi_gee

    Hi Louis !

    27 Feb 2011 Reply
  • LondonLouis

    Watched a BBC documentary last night on American Folk, and was reminded of the Weavers. Almost by accident, they found themselves becoming a huge act, before the McCarthyism cut them down. Ledbelly died very shortly before they turned his Goodnight Irene into a national hit. They also gave Woody Guthrie about his only royalty cheque with "This Land is your Land". They were an important link between Guthrie's pioneering work and the Dylan-inspired folk revival of the 1960s. Some of their work now seems a bit kitsch, but they played their role - and Pete Seeger continued to roll on as a major artist.

    31 Jan 2009 Reply

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