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Our Friends

Through the years we have had the good fortune to meet, spend time with and sing and play with a huge variety of musicians, fans and others in the folk world. The following are just a small sample. We think that if you have enjoyed us and our music you might enjoy them too.

Sam Hood

(May 22, 1943 - September 3, 2007)

Heart and spirit of the Gaslight Cafe on MacDougal Street, which he owned with his father Clarence Hood from 1962 and operated from then until 1971, Sam was at the center of and a key force in the folk renaissance that flowered in Greenwich Village, NY during that period, and which has had an immeasurable impact on American music and culture.
A magical finder and presenter of talent, Sam's tiny stage saw the early and often first performances of people ranging from Bill Cosby to Phil Ochs, from Bob Dylan to Mississippi John Hurt, Tom Paxton and Flip Wilson. For us, he was an enthusiastic guide to both the glory and the netherworld of Village life in that most wonderful of times, and above all, a constant and true friend.
So farewell, good friend, well done. And thanks for enriching our lives.

Old Friends

Carolyn Hester

Carolyn was one of the first people we met at the Indian Neck Folk Festival in 1960, and was a frequent participant in the Greenwich Village folk scene when we were there. She had and has to this day a wonderful, clear, clean voice, and I am happy to report has managed to keep her Texas accent intact.

Tom Paxton www.tompaxton.com

Another old friend from the Village days, Tom had been performing with Gil Robbins before Gil joined us in 1962. His regular participation in the semi-permanent floating poker game after hours in the Gaslight Café on MacDougal Street kept him going in those early years (don't ask us how we know this). You can count on one hand the songwriters who can do a completely captivating and rounded two-hour concert using only their own tunes. Tom is one of them.

Dick Cerri www.WFMA.net

Dick for years had a folk music radio show in Washington, D.C., and for the last couple of decades has been the driving force behind the World Folk Music Association. He was an early fan of ours and has periodically invited us to perform at WFMA's annual benefit concert. If you're in the DC area any January, don't miss it.

Manny's Music www.mannysmusic.com

Sadly, the old Manny's, on 48th street, is no more. It was a classic family-run music store and a New York institution. Oh, the store is still there, and you can still see our signed picture on the ceiling (along with those of thousands of other musicians from the 1930s to the 1980s). But it has been bought out by Sam Ash, formerly a neighbor on the street and now a mega music chain. Manny's gave us the feeling that we were not customers but family. Dave Fisher put it nicely:

One of my fondest memories was when I came in after being in LA for around six years and Henry's mother [wife of Manny] saw me walk in the door from upstairs, where her desk had been moved and yelled down, "David - did you eat? You look too thin. Someone get David something to eat!"

Phil Ochs Phil Ochs

One of the "Village folkies" who made Greenwich Village a mecca for both fans and musicians, Phil could be found most evenings when not on the road, listening or playing in one of the coffee houses on Bleeker or MacDougal Streets, or at a back table in the Kettle of Fish bar. A passionate and voluable songwriter and performer, he was a good friend and spent more than one night on one of our sofas after his wife had thrown him out for some domestic indiscretion. His talent was overtaken by mental illness in the 1970s and he died by his own hand in 1976. But his music lives on and the link above is a good place to pursue it.

Oscar Brand www.oscarbrand.com

A founding member of the folk revival in the 1940s and '50s, Oscar is a treasure house of songs and is still performing. Catch him if you want to see where it all came from.

Schooner Fare www.schoonerfare.com

Entertainers, and especially groups, come and go. We came, we went, and luckily we came again. But Schooner Fare came more than 25 years ago and stayed, playing great tunes written by themselves, traditional ones, and those by the very best songwriters, with constant love for the music and an unshakeable integrity. They have shared their stage with us and we are proud to call them personal and musical friends.

New Friends

Mick Moloney

We have always had a soft spot for Irish and other Celtic folk music, and so a few years ago Dave Fisher attended a conference on it at Wesleyan University. There he first met Mick and was immediately drafted into a pickup band to play guitar for a breakfast "concert" at a local eatery. Mick is North America's formost Irish folklorist and ethnomusicologist and a wonderful performer of Irish music. He currently teaches at New York University in the Irish Studies program. The two have stayed in touch since then and we are honored to have Mick Moloney's kind words as liner notes for our latest CD.

Tommy Sands www.tommysands.com

We met Tommy first through his music and only then in person. His songs are rooted in the Irish tradition but transcend it to become universal. Pete Seeger put it best: "Tommy Sands has achieved that difficult but wonderful balance between knowing and loving the traditions of his home and being concerned with the future of the whole world." We have two of his songs in our repertoire and probably more by the time you read this.

Photo by Casey Fisher.

From left to right: Fionan Sands, Tommy, Carolyn Hester, Dave Fisher, Moya Sands. After a concert in southern California, March, 2008.

Cherish the Ladies www.cherishtheladies.com

For one-stop-shopping in Irish instrumental music, you can't do much better than these super-talented women. Their leader, Joanie Madden, is an Irish flute and whistle phenomenon and the others in the group are equal to that challenge on their own instruments. We played with them -- that is, tried to keep up -- at Irish Fest in 2002 and never miss a chance to attend a performance.

Strings & Things

A bunch of years ago, a woman from Yorkshire, Judy Higgins, got in touch with us to say that she and a like-minded group of folks also sang folk songs, and they enjoyed and occasionally themselves played our tunes. Hurrah!, said we, and we have kept in touch since. But it's best to let them tell their own tale:

The nucleus of amateur English folk group Strings & Things came from a guitar tuition course at a college serving the Yorkshire villages where we live. In July, 1974 — inspired by our musical efforts and with a wish to sing the songs of The Highwaymen — we put together the programme for our first appearance . . . then it just grew.

Since then we have done nearly 1,200 concerts. We have played at an eclectic mix of venues from a mediaeval castle to a maximum-security prison, from a wind-tossed Irish Sea ferryboat to a country marquee during a thunderstorm, from the historic City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds to a hilltop festival outside Dublin. For nearly two decades we went to Ireland every spring and to a summer school near Glastonbury (home of the traditional music extravaganza) each July. But mostly we have played in churches, schools, village halls, community centres, hospitals and residential homes across our region, raising money for good causes as we go. We have never charged for concerts and any donations we receive go straight out again to local charities.

When we did our 15th anniversary/500th concert in July, 1989, we were blessed to make contact with members of the original Highwaymen and to begin a relationship which has continued for a happy 25 years. The Highwaymen once joked that they stole all their songs from The Weavers but we stole all our songs from them . . . and we still do. They have been ever-gracious in the personal support and encouragement that have spurred us onwards to our 40th anniversary.

The Strings & Things line-up has evolved over the years as members have faced changing career and family commitments but some of us have been here throughout. We very much hope to stay together in times to come and to keep The Highwaymen’s songs alive in our part of the world.
-- Judy Higgins

Hurrah! indeed. They are about to celebrate their 40th anniversary together, and The Highwaymen congratulate them and urge all to lift a glass.

Standing: Mac Brumwell, Marie Proud, Brian Munro, Mike Tranter, Margareta Munro and John Banks.
Seated: Margaret Brumwell, Marie Wright, Norah Timms, Maureen Holliday and Judy Higgins.