The Kingston Soloist

Sun Staff Reports Each Saturday, Thin Man Music on Webster Street hosts a “Sidewalk Serenade” featuring various talented musicians from around the Bay Area.

The musicians perform tunes of their choosing and sometimes requests for passersby. This past Saturday, as a thank you to Thin Man Music’s owner Leroy Thomas, an Alameda resident who is also a member of the folk-singing Kingston Trio made an appearance on Webster.

Rick Dougherty’s acoustic guitar playing accompanied his crystal clear singing voice on a handful of Christmas Carols and other tunes listeners recognized from the trio’s heydey in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Dougherty replaced one of the orginal members of the trio, which still tours today.

Today’s Kingston Trio, made up of George Grove, Bill Zorn and Rick Dougherty, trace their roots back to the spring of 1957 when three unknown musicians — Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds and Dave Guard — were playing as a nameless group at the Cracked Pot on El Camino Real in Redwood City.

Frank Werber, who worked as an advertising director for the clubs in San Francisco’s North Beach scene, heard Shane, Reynolds and Guard were packing them in.

He needed someone to fill in for Phyllis Diller (also a one-time Alameda resident) at the Purple Onion, but the three needed a name and a contract.

They wrote both on a napkin. They named themselves The Kingston Trio for Kingston, Jamaica, home of their favorite music, the calypso. The following year their song “Tom Dooley” went gold.


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