THE FABULOUS GATEWAY SINGERS
Gateway Recollections 1
ELIZABETH HERBERT is a former Californian, now living in South Australia. She and her sister in Santa Rosa had hoped to get their well-worn Gateway LPs digitized and cleaned up, but not having got around to that, they heartily welcome the new special edition CDS.
My parents saw The Gateway Singers, and bought their records. We
played the grooves out of them. My parents went on to be Limeliters fans and I still have those albums as well . I met Lou Gotlieb at a small concert and asked about Elmerlee, and about getting old Gateway records. (He suggested the San Francisco public library.) I want anything there is on CD.”
MAURICE THOMAS is the gifted son of Elmerlee who has continued on her legacy with his own singing career, and in tribute, uses his mother's name.
“It's so wonderful to see this website, and to know that people remember my mother and The Gateway Singers so fondly. Their music is the foundation for mine.”
MARCIE THOMAS is the daughter of The Gateway Singers' brilliant contralto, Elmerlee Thomas, and she looks forward to sharing photos of TGS with the website.
“My brother and I are the children of Elmerlee Thomas and are absolutely awestruck by this website.!
ANDREA KLOOSTER is another second generation Gateway Singers fan, and has been lovingly restoring their LPs onto CD, but preserving booklets and labels in their `archival' state, to create replicas replete with memories - wine stains, address labels and all.
“I'm so glad I found you--after all my searching on the web, I was starting to think my parents and I were the only people who remembered the Gateway Singers!
As a Christmas present to my father, I am converting his treasured Gateway Singers albums to CDs. Unfortunately, some of the records have some bad scratches. My favorite song, All Over This World, is so badly scratched that much of the song is skipped. I have wonderful memories of my younger brother singing `The meecha backa booka will soon be over...'”
Native Californian RON POSTREL's recollections of The Gateway Singers are tied up with childhood memories and nostalgia for a very special San Francisco which was the backdrop for the dawning of the folk era.
“One of my earliest recollections of a vinyl LP was the Gateway Singers "Puttin' On the Style." Since I was too young to see them perform at San Francisco's legendary hungry i nightclub, I remember my parents leaving me with my grandmother while THEY went to see them and brought home the original LP which is still in their home today (unplayable condition, so I'm so pleased to now have The Gateway Singers on CD).
I always was mesmerized by the cover photo of “Puttin' On the Style” ... from the perspective of top of Nob Hill looking south on Powell Street with a cable car chugging NORTH up the steepest Hill. This was the San Francisco I remember of the day .... now vintage 1950s-era cars parked along the street conjuring up images for me in later years of what the "scene" must have been like in '50's San Francisco ... the city by the Bay.
What a music scene it was and would stay .... the folk scene, the beat scene, the literary scene, the happenin' scene that San Francisco was. And Elmerlee and that gorgeous voice. I remember the title track vividly and the animated picture of the Gateway singers ... Lou Gottlieb on bass for some reason really stood out for me. When I was just a little older and learning to play folk guitar, "Puttin' On the Style" was the album I would always strum to ...."Bury in My Overalls" "When I'm Gone, Sally Don't you Grieve", "Jerusalem" and all the others. What a great bunch of tunes ....oh, if i could have only been old enough to see them at the hungry i !!! " That's where legends in music and comedy launched their careers."
BETTY MAN of The Gateway Trio fortunately kept a journal of her life on the road with the group. Here's a page on playing The Cellar Door in Washington, D. C.
"We were booked into the Cellar Door, a very popular folk club in Georgetown. Our run was from June 15 - 27, 1964.
We had a great opening night with full houses and very receptive crowds night after night. Always did encores. The weather very hot and humid and there didn't seem to be any air conditioning. My main concern during that entire engagement was my hair, which I wore sort of like Prince Valiant - bangs and a short, blunt cut.
By the time I had finished a set, I was wringing wet and my hair looked like I had just stepped out of a shower. I don't know how Milt and Jerry stood the heat in their wool jackets, shirts and ties. I spent my time between sets drying and resetting my hair.
I think we did three shows a night.
We were staying at the Woodner Hotel. The "Goodtime Singers" were living there also. Tom Lyons was the leader in that group. The group was much like The Serendipity Singers.
On Friday night, June 19, we did two shows, and the "Goodtime Singers" sat in and did show number three. A real bonus for the audience.
The Kingston Trio also in town. Nick Reynolds came by one night and sat in with us for two songs.
We closed on Saturday, June 27, and we were so glad to get out of there. The gig was great, and we liked the management, but we couldn't take the heat and humidity. After all, we were all from the San Francisco area and not used to this weather. "
Betty Mann Doutt
DAVID WALTER, son of the founder and member of both Gateway groups, has kindly acknowledged our web salute.
“Who did this? It is great. I am Jerry's son David. The youngest of the 3 children. Please write me back and let me know. I know my sister Becky & Betty helped write my the bio but who else do I have to thank for this wonderfull tribute to my father, his music and the all the great times?”
FRANK STOLL owned all The Gateway Singers' albums, and admits to playing them into near obliteration. Nevertheless, his memories of the group remain brilliant.
I heard the Gateway Singers many many times at the Hungry i. I don't remember the exact first year I heard them or when they finally ended their hungry i run.but I was an avid attendee until they left.
It was much better than studying in Berkeley. No cover, no minimum and sit through more than one show anytime. I wasn't even old enough to drink legally but somehow managed to get in and have my share. I am slightly hard of hearing today and it probably was from sitting right in front of the speakers at the aforementioned club, time and time again.
In addition to five of their Lps, I also had Elmerlee Thomas' "Sun's Gonna Shine. To me Elmerlee's voice is what really made the Gateway Singers unique.
AL SALLEY at Duke University has been a Gateway Singers fan since childhood, and his perseverance in attempting to preserve their recordings and get them re-released is something we can all admire greatly!
“I don't have any personal memories of the group (never saw them) but my parents met and dated in the San Francisco area before moving to North Carolina, and I grew up listening to two of their albums, "Putting on the Style" and "in Hi Fi."
When I was in college I found my parents' albums again, but by that time they were in terrible condition. I made a tape of them anyway and listened to the tape even though I couldn't really hear the music well. About 14 years ago I found the LP "at the Hungry i" at a used record/book store. It was in beautiful condition and I quickly made a tape and became very familiar with the songs. This made me long for the other albums. I did find a copy of "Wagons West" at a used store at one point, but still wanted the old Decca albums.
Now I have at least one copy of all the LPs -- I have more or less listenable complete copies of all the albums if you take bits and pieces from the different copies. I have contacted both Collector's Choice Music and Rediscover Music in the past to express interest in seeing the albums released on CD since both are mail-order catalogs that have reissued other folk acts on their own labels (including Bud & Travis and the Limeliters). The response wasn't encouraging, citing lisencing difficulties, limited demand, etc., but the reply I got from Rediscover music was very nice and personal, mentioning that they were in the process of trying to make sure that Travis had copies of all the albums, which he apparently didn't at the time (this was a year or so ago).
Even if the Gateway Singers are less well-known, I would think their significance as springboard for Lou Gottlieb and Travis Edmonson, as an early integrated group, and as inspiration for the Kingston Trio and other acts would lead to more attention being paid to them. Lately I've been listening to a cassette I've made of "Putting on the Style" and "at the Hungry i" and am more and more impressed with the songs and convinced that they should be heard again, and sure that it's not just childhood nostalgia on my part. I've contemplated making a cassette of these LPs to send to the reissue labels so they could hear what I'm talking about!
It is great to share my thoughts on this group with someone who knows about them and appreciates them (I was really beginning to wonder if anyone else had ever heard of them!) I've checked the internet periodically for years and found nothing until I stumbled upon your website.
Another member of the Jerry Walter family has located our new website.
“I just learned about this site and have to say, I really appreciate the time spent putting this together. So many things my grandfather did throughout his life that I never knew about. Being the oldest grandson of such a wonderful man is truly something I am proud of. I only wish I could have had more time to get to know him as I grew older. Thank you Betty and Aunt Becky for doing this.”
And you won't want to miss
Experience your own hungry i reunion with the wonderful DVD featuring commentary by Enrico Banducci and performances by The Kingston Trio, Limeliters, Mort Sahl, jonathan Winters, Stan Wilson + rare Lenny Bruce footage. Just click the icon to order direct from Amazon!