Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Richard and Mimi Fariña on Pete Seeger's TV show / also Donovan singing "Colours"

One of the people I really listened to when I was starting to play the mountain dulcimer in the 1970s was Richard Fariña. Even in Knoxville, Tennessee, which should have been (but wasn't always) a stronghold of Appalachian traditional music! So it was a revelation tonight to find some video clips of his playing on Pete Seeger's "Rainbow Quest" ... with some nice closeups of his left hand action with the noter. Worth studying.

Richard & Mimi Fariña -- "Dopico" and "Celebrations for a Grey Day." YouTube user realdinho, who posted it, says "the first couple of songs performed on Rainbow Quest hosted by Pete Seeger, originally broadcast Saturday, February 26, 1966 about two months before Richard's tragic death on 30 April 1966, the day Mimi turned 21..."

Other songs featuring the Fariñas on "Rainbow Quest"

Neal Hellman of Gourd Music, who put together a book of tablature in the 1970s, has a very nice profile of Fariña on his blog Neal's Tales at Including this:

... One evening he saw the Kentucky folk singer Jean Ritchie perform at folk club in Greenwich Village and became smitten by the mountain dulcimer. This, he decided, would be the perfect vehicle for his poetry. He soon married and toured with Carolyn Hester, but the relationship proved a disaster and ended in 1962. Folk legend has it that Carolyn pulled a gun on Richard in their Paris apartment shortly after he flirted with a young girl in a café. There are many stories like that surrounding the short life of Richard Fariña, all of which only added to his mystique.

In the spring of 1962 while still in Paris he met a sixteen-year-old dancer named Mimi Baez, and within a year they were married. The Baez family was skeptical of Richard at first, but in time his charm and wit won them over. Mimi and Richard composed music together on guitar and dulcimer, and by 1964 they were becoming a well-known folk duo. They recorded two wonderfully inspired and well-produced recordings for Vanguard Records—Celebrations for A Gray Day (April 1965) and Reflections in a Crystal Wind (December 1965). Their music consisted of Richard’s songs of political and social commentary as well as instrumentals he created for the mountain dulcimer. Mimi added her soprano harmony and played guitar and autoharp. They reached their peak at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, where even a massive thunderstorm could not keep the crowds from dancing to their music, all in various forms of undress.

And this: "He took the dulcimer out of the Appalachians and made it accessible to city kids like me. To anyone over forty who plays the dulcimer, Richard Fariña has earned patriarchal status." Hellman, like Farina, was originally from Brooklyn.

Bonus track: Donovan on Pete Seeger show

Pete Seeger & Donovan - Colours. Posted by YouTube user Jan Hammer. "Speaking of UK artists here is Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan appearing with Pete Seeger on the Show "Rainbow Quest".

Excerpt from background on "Rainbow Quest":

Rainbow Quest (1965--66) was a U.S. television series devoted to folk music and hosted by Pete Seeger. It was videotaped in black-and-white and featured musicians playing in traditional American music genres such as traditional folk music, old-time music, bluegrass and blues. The show's title is drawn from the lyrics of the song by Seeger "Oh, Had I A Golden Thread".


The program was produced on a low budget funded by Seeger and his co-producer, Sholom Rubinstein. Seeger's wife, Toshi, given the title "Chief Cook and Bottle Washer" in the closing credits after each show, actually functioned as the director by dint of the fact that she continually made suggestions to Rubinstein that he passed along to the camera operators. Eventually the cameramen simply followed her instructions without waiting for Rubinstein to repeat them. ...

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