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by Newsweek Magazine
"The hottest singing-instrumental group around today" is the way Variety described The Weavers last week. Back in New York for a month-stay at Cafe Society Downtown, the folk-singing quartet can now look back at a career as brief as it has been spectacular.
Just a year and a half ago, The Weavers burst upon the New York scene in a tiny Greenwich Village night club called the Village Vanguard. Since then, they have toured the country and their salaries have zoomed from $200 to $4,000 a week—all on the strength of the four records they have made for Decca: "Goodnight, Irene," "The Roving Kind," "So Long," and "On Top of Old Smokey"—racking up a total of nearly 4,000,000 sales.
Now back in a New York night club for the first time in nearly a year before starting on a second transcontinental tour, The Weavers have come to know their folk music the hard way. Three of them are big-city products. Pete See-ger, the 31-year-old dean of the group and its only professional folk singer, ran into 37-year-old Lee Hays ten years ago while tracking down some songs. The only non-New Yorker of the group, Hays comes from Little Rock, Ark., and has been a librarian and Methodist minister, but now spends all his free time writing fiction. Both in their mid-20's, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman met in 1944 while counselors in a children's camp in Point Pleasant, N. J.
All four finally came together some three years ago at a party in Greenwich Village while joining in community sings. The four were indispensable to Village parties for more than a year, until they decided to go commercial. Latest of their resuscitated folk songs to hit the diskways is their new record of that rollicking Gospel hymn, "When the Saints Go Marching In," and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine," the latter evolved by Seeger from an Irish jig called "Drim-mer's Cow."
"Reprinted by permission from Newsweek, Vol. 38, No. 6, August 6, 1951."