The New Christy Minstrels Presenting The New Christy Minstrels Columbia
Forty-five years ago, an ensemble of folk singers earned a Grammy award for Best Performance by a Chorus after releasing an album packed with full-throated dulcet harmonies. The guilelessness of that album, Presenting The New Christy Minstrels, is astonishing to modern ears.
The opening track, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” fairly swells with New Frontier optimism while “Don’t Cry, Suzanne” darkens facing “the shame of war.” “The Cotton Picker’s Song” careens into near manic bounciness sporting a chorus straight from my kindergarten gym class.
Despite the sometimes corny pacing, Presenting distinguishes itself with richly resonant vocals harmonized into perfect pitch chords. Guitar, banjo and bass are key but spare elements of the songs, frameworks for a chorus or warm embrace from a different era. But then, considering the local popularity of Broken Valley Roadshow, maybe not.
Of Presenting’s 10 performers, four visit Missoula on this tour, supplemented by four players added later in the band’s life. One wonders if those old-timers’ voices and spirits survived the long road from then to now as well as their album has. (Jason Wiener)
The New Christy Minstrels perform at MCT Friday, March 30, and Saturday, March 31. 8 PM. $28.