Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Travellers

Canadian folk music institution The Travellers were formed in Toronto in 1953 by Jerry Gray, Sid Dolgay, Helen Gray, Jerry Goodis and Harry Ross. Gray was the nominal leader and only constant member of the ensemble, and well over a dozen singers and musicians would pass through its ranks over the years. At the time this album was recorded, The Travellers consisted of soprano Simone Johnston, Gray (tenor and banjo), Dolgay (bass and mando-cello), Ray Woodley (baritone and guitar) and bassist Jack Lander, with Eugene Dolny listed as the "artistic director".

During the '50's and '60's the group made regular appearances on the CBC, played at the first Mariposa Folk Festival and toured throughout Canada, Britain and the Soviet Union. In 1967, the year of the Centennial, they played over 100 shows throughout Canada and released an album of organized labour tunes entitled A Century Of Song, and in 1970 they were featured at the Canada Pavillion at Expo '70 in Osaka, Japan.

Throughout the '70's the group cut back on its performing itinerary, but continued to make appearances at schools, labour rallies and political events. The group was never officially disbanded, and Gray continues to perform with an incarnation of The Travellers to this day. There were reunion concerts with a few of the past members taking part in 1980 and 1990, but sadly it seems as though some left or were forced out under acrimonious circumstances due to ideological differences and do not look back at their time in the group fondly.

Making Hay With The Travellers was released on Columbia Records in 1965. "Acres Of Clams" is a northwest American folk song that dates back to 1874 and has been sung and recorded under a dozen different titles. "Sinner Man" is a harrowing American spiritual, best-known for having been recorded by The Weavers and Nina Simone. And "Lonesome Traveller" is another American folk standard, written by Lee Hays of The Weavers, one that slowly builds to an almost frightening intensity.

Acres Of Clams
Sinner Man
Lonesome Traveller


At 7:28 AM, Blogger Kliph Nesteroff said...

Their Man and His World Expo song...

"Goin on Down to the Expo City
Gonna Ramble along
Hear it's mighty pretty
gonna go to Monteal
gonna see
A man and his world!"

is a really great, moving track.


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