The first Golden Ring was so much fun, we enlarged the group with even more friends (25 of 'em), gathered together at Folk-Legacy and sang for five days. The result was this two-volume set of which John Wolfe (at Radio KVOD in Denver) wrote: "The real, honest-to-goodness joy that can come from folk music is epitomized by the 'Golden Ring' albums on Folk-Legacy." Waterbound; The Waters of Tyne; World of Misery (Shenandoah); Benjamin Bowmaneer; Over the Waterfall; Ginny's Gone to Ohio; Leaning on the Everlasting Arms; Lord Bateman; The Rolling Hills of the Border; D Composition in C; Poor Howard; Sundown; Temperance Reel; and It Soon Be
Done.Victory Review says: This is what folk music heaven will be like.
Wonderful harmonies, terrific instrumentals, great old songs--I can't stop smiling!
Wow! What a recording!
The New Golden Ring
FIVE DAYS SINGING, Volume I
Actually, the "Golden Ring" has never been an established group of specific individuals; it has always been more a concept, an approach to informal, non-competitive music-making by a gathering of friends, often solo performers in their own right, who simply enjoy singing and playing together. Our first recorded example of this was the "original" Golden Ring, recorded at WFMT in Chicago in 1963 and now available as Folk-Legacy's CD-16.
For some years following the release of that recording, we wanted to produce a sequel,
but the "original" artists were scattered around the country and managed to get together only once a year at the Fox Hollow Festival that Bob Beers produced every August in upstate New York. There, around the campfires, the ring seemed to expand each year as members of the group brought in new friends and partners.
In fact, new "rings" were developing all over the country as the various participants gathered others around them, wherever they were living, for the simple purpose of sharing the music they loved.
We finally decided to invite all who could come for a reunion at the home of Sandy and
Caroline Paton, a remodeled barn on a rural hillside in Sharon, Connecticut, that also houses Folk-Legacy. There we would make music together for a week or so before we all went on up to Fox Hollow. Friends came from Denver, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Accokeek (Maryland), Falls Church (Virginia), Camden (Maine), New Haven and Madison (Connecticut). When we ran out of extra bedrooms and couches, air mattresses were strategically laid out on the living-room floor. The Armstrong family pitched their tent in the back yard by the pond and the Dildines took up quarters in our pick-up camper which was parked behind the house. They probably got more sleep than those of us who stayed in the house, but, truth to tell, no one slept very much. To go to sleep would mean missing the music still being made by other, more tireless song-swappers.
It was not what one might call a well-controlled recording situation. I set up microphones, set levels as well as I could, pushed the buttons, and then dashed in to add my tenor to the chorus. Caroline took on the task of feeding the multitudes and organized it brilliantly. Loathe to leave the perpetual music to prepare meals, she had baked a number of casseroles ahead of time and stored them in the freezer.
When people began to show signs of hunger, she would pop a couple of these in the oven and run back to sing another song or two while they heated. Everyone pitched in to help with the kitchen chores, of course, often experimenting with harmonies on a new song while scrubbing pots and pans. With over twenty-five folks to feed, all the meals were strictly buffet and paper plates.
It was five days of a marvelous musical marathon, exhilarating and exhausting, following
which we all trekked up to Fox Hollow for another five days of singing and playing with an even larger assembly of friends. When it was all over, I must have slept for a couple of days before editing the many tapes which resulted in the two volumes of this set. But we'd do it again - and, in fact, we did, with somewhat smaller gatherings, to produce the cassette titled Sharon Mountain Harmony: A Golden Ring of Gospel (C-86) and, recently, in sessions which resulted in 'Twos On a Night Like This: A Christmas Legacy (CD-114) and For All the Good People, A Golden Ring Reunion (CD-121) - for that's what it's all about, really: good times, with good music and good friends.
A booklet is available /or this recording, containing notes on all of the songs and their complete texts. To obtain a copy, send $ 1 to Folk-Legacy Records, Box 1148, Sharon, CT 06069.