Decca - DL 8671
When we first started singing folk music professionally, we were appalled by the fact that the United States was the only country in the world where the "popular" and folk music were not the same. Thanks to many fine artists and a growing public realization that folk music is as much a part of our natural heritage as our national parks and forests, this is no longer completely true. In our attempt to make folk music more acceptable to the public, and to offset AS much as possible the mistaken idea that folk songs are outdated bits of antiquity sung poorly, we use modern musical settings, the beat of present-day jazz, and what we consider to be a very modern method of presentation, without removing the intensity and feeling with which the songs were originally sung. Although it has been a lot of fun for us to play and sing the music; we feel the main credit and thanks for the public acceptance of our approach should by rights go to our friends, fans, critics, and the many wonderful people who have introduced us to the songs we sing. It is to them, or, more properly, to you, to whom we dedicate the album, with the hope that you will enjoy playing it as we enjoy singing it.
The Gateway Singers
The blend which the Singers display, and which has had them appearing for two years at the hungry i theater-restaurant in San Francisco, is not solely a vocal one. It is a mixture of four competent soloists, and varied backgrounds, fitting together as an entity. Elmerlee Thomas, the group's gifted Negro contralto, was a laboratory technician at the University of California at Berkeley before joining the group, as well as singing lieder in concert.
Jerry Walter, the group's five-string banjoist, was a popular singer, truck driver, radio announcer, railroad worker, and actor.
Ernie Sheldon, one of the group's guitarists, was a professional singer for 13 years, having played from New York to Los Angeles.
Travis Edmonson, the groups youngest member and other guitarist, was a truck driver, anthropologist, soldier, and professional singer.
Coming from Oakland, California, Chicago, Brooklyn, and Nogales, Arizona, respectively, the group represents an amalgamation which is in every respect truly American.
To the selections in this album, the Singers add the following notes:
Oleanna - Old Bull, an extremely successful violinist of the 1800's, attempted to buy a part of Pennsylvania as a home for some of his poor and homeless fellow Norwegians. His philanthropy was doused when it turned out that the men from whom he had "bought" the land didn't own it, and there is nothing left of his utopia, Oleanna, save this song.
Deep Blue Sea - a plaintive sailor's lament, versions of which come from many ports, from Newfoundland to the West Indies.
This Little Light of Mine - One of the lesser known of the more beautiful Negro spirituals.
Poor Boy - a story of violence and regret, with the accused pleading self-defence, all, of course, on account of a lady.
Fare Thee Well - a wistful blues with the bittersweet quality of real human longing.
The Ballad of Sigmund Freud - a very modern folk song, originally a poem written by some students at the University of Chicago.
Roll Down the Line - a protest from the coal mines in the South during the early 1800's, when laborers objected to the owners' competitive use of slave labor in the mines.
Hold On - a powerful Negro spiritual from Civil War days, the double-entendre lyric of which was very timely and popular in the Montgomery, Alabama desegregation meetings.
The Erie Canal - the tongue-in-cheek song of salt water sailors who went to work on the famous inland canal.
The Sinking of the Reuben James - a ballad originally sung by the Almanac Singers, of the sinking of the USS Reuben James, first destroyer to be torpedoed in the North Atlantic in World War II. Since adding this song to our repertoire, we have met several of the forty survivors, and the son of Commander Hugh Black, the skipper who went down with the Reuben James, all of whom attest to the factuality of the song.
The Fox - the story of a solution to an economic problem in the animal world.
Roving Gambler - a tribute to one of Lady Luck's favorite sons.
Three Israeli Folk Dances - a medley of horas, or circle dances, with all of the pioneering spirit of the little land of Israel.
Since this album was cut, Lou Gottlieb, the Singers bass player, has returned to the University of California to Complete his dissertation for his PhD in Musicology, and has been replaced by Ernie Sheldon, who's picture appears on this record jacket.
Other members of the quartet are Jerry Walter and Elmerlee Thomas, with Lou Gottlieb and Ernie Sheldon alternating on some tracks. Despite the title, this is not a 'live' album, though it was indeed recorded at the famed San Francisco establishment. Travis Edmonson is featured on "Poor Boy" and "Deep Blue Sea."
For more about the fabulous Gateway Singers, visit
This Little Light Of Mine
The Sinking Of The Ruben James
The Ballad Of Sigmund Freud
The Erie Canal
Deep Blue Sea
Roll Down The Line
Fare Thee Well
Three Israeli Folk Dances
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