Thursday, October 11, 2007

Folk Singers Abound

We only have a few more folks to cover in order to fill out the archives of the 1967 festival - the rest of the performers who were listed as "Guest Artists". Here, more than ever, I need the help of folks who may have been at these shows to help me fill out their stories, to preserve their place in Winfield history.

Eunice Shedden, from Oklahoma City, was scheduled to perform but had to cancel at the last minute. She was the house singer at the "Sword and Stone" in OKC for several years and did some touring, mostly on the east coast. She occasionally played at the Black Eye in Winfield. She now lives in Atlanta, and says she hasn't played in thirty years, but still has her '35 Martin D-18 in the closet.

Glenda Bickell performed on Friday evening. She was listed as a "ballad singer" from Wichita, and I have talked to at least one person who remembers her from that time. I'm not sure where she was from, but she apparently left the Big Cow Town for the Mile High City not too long after the festival. A Google search yields one hit as a back-up singer for Judy Collins, listed last of fourteen backup singers for a live album.

Charlie Cloud was the grandfather of a Southwestern student, Misty Maynard, a freshman in 1967. He was a seasoned storyteller who had honed his skills on the Chautauqua circuit in the 20's and 30's. Mr. Cloud took the stage on Saturday night, and by all accounts held the fieldhouse spellbound throughout his performance, as he did again in 1971. There's a photograph of him accompanying my post of 9/01.

The Shannon Singers were apparently Mike Dunn and Francis Love from Pueblo Colorado. I can find out absolutely nothing about them. So far, anyway. They played on Saturday evening.

The Revelators were a gospel quartet, also from Wichita, who performed on Sunday for the gospel sing. The lineup has changed over the years, but the Revelators are still a working group in the Wichita area.

Harry Weldon was attending Wichita State University when he helped out with the blues workshop on Saturday afternoon. I found a reference to him in Pat O'Connor's essay "A Blackout Tavern - A Study in 60's Folklore" ... "(the owner, Gil) McNabb met Harry Weldon and Tom Collins through the bar. These two individuals were to have a profound impact on the underground movement in Wichita, in folk and blues music and in poetry and fiction. Weldon, at first a folk singer and part-time bartender at A Blackout, later managed the tavern. He lived in West Virginia before attending Wichita State and brought with him folk songs from that region, and others. Among Weldon's most requested songs were "San Francisco Bay Blues" and "Grand Coulee Dam." In addition to ballads, the folk singer performed bottleneck blues and played the autoharp.

"Weldon, in addition to being an astute folk musician, was a writer who edited the university's literary magazine, Mikrokosmos in 1968. According to the 1983 Mikrokosmos 25th anniversary issue, Weldon "held a party with the [competition] prize money, assuming the prizewinners would rather have it that way." Not all of those awarded prizes appreciated this option." Harry Weldon moved to Nova Scotia after graduating, apparently to escape the draft. He passed away in 2002.

Another person who helped with the blues workshop was "Poor Bill" Miller. There is an excellent Native American songwriter with a very clean finger-picking blues style named Bill Miller, but I don't know if it's the same person.

One final guest artist was Art Eskridge. A Dallas musician at the time, Art was born in Winfield, eventually settled there, and still lives there. I haven't been successful in reaching him to discuss these pages, but he is one person who has experienced the entire history of the folk festivals in Winfield. He performed at the Friday evening concert and participated in the blues workshop on Saturday afternoon and the gospel sing on Sunday morning. Art also performed at The Walnut Valley Folk Festival in '71. A photograph of Mr. Eskridge can be found with the post from 9/01.

Next, a few more performers from the open concert, held in the late afternoon on Saturday.


No comments: