The first few moments of this live compilation of Weavers material neatly sum up the group as they invite their audience to join in on ‘Michael Row The Boat Ashore’. Their music was for everyone, and through it they sought to share their social concerns. The Weavers were formed in 1948 and developed their musicality in New York’s Greenwich Village, setting the area’s influence on the folk world. The first two key members were Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, both of whom had been part of the Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie. They were joined by Fred Hellerman and Ronnie Gilbert, the latter adding a rich female voice to the harmonic mix.
The Weavers came about at a particular time in America when, although there was post-war optimism and economic growth, there was also racial segregation, lack of women’s rights, environmental concerns and the threat of nuclear war. The eastern bloc hostility promoted a climate of suspicion against the political left, leading to the McCarthy era of witch-hunts. The Weavers were caught up in this, and their access to radio and TV exposure was made very difficult, despite huge hit records with ‘Goodnight Irene’ and ‘Tzena Tzena Tzena’, the former holding the #1 spot for 13 weeks. Nevertheless, the Weavers spearheaded the folk movement, paving the way for the late 50s folk music revival. The songs they sang invited participation, effectively making their audience part of the movement.
This collection features many of their most famous songs. Many of them would be thought of as traditional works but are, in fact, Weavers originals, or at least old tunes with their new words. The group’s effect was, and remains, huge. Ace Records are very proud to keep their music alive and available.