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  Friday November 28th, 2014    

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An Irish Folksinger (01/28/2007)
From: Carol (Wiggins) Gainer

Ettrick, Wis.

It was fall 1964. My singin' partner, Johnny Weigel, had ridden his motorcycle from LaCrosse to Madison that day, carrying his guitar and a bunch of new songs. We were both folk singers, like the Kingston Trio, Joan Baez, and the latest, Bob Dylan - almost everyone we knew then was a folk singer. We met at a coffeehouse, The Penny University, just off State Street and practiced our songs.

There was a fellow sitting quietly who heard us practicing. We fell into conversation and realized he was from Ireland and knew many of the same songs we had been singing. Of course we asked him over for the evening, and were delighted when he agreed. We caught a cab while Johnny, the motorcycle, and the guitar followed.

When we arrived at my place, the Irishman immediately spotted my guitar. We settled in for the evening, playing and singing all the Irish, Scottish, American, and other songs, until 4 a.m. Several times we said admiringly, "Hey, man, you wanna join a group?" or, "Wow, you're good. You wanna join us?" He always laughed and then moved on to another song.

We were yawning surreptitiously when we decided to find out exactly who this Irishman was. When we asked his name, he replied, "Do you have any Tommy Makem and The Clancy Brothers around?"

"Well, of course!" I replied and produced several records by the famous group. "Are there any on here that you know?"

"Oh, this one will do," he replied, selecting one with pictures and signatures on it. Underneath the name "Tommy Makem," he signed it - an exact duplicate. It turned out he was appearing in concert in Madison the very next day. We were both openmouthed - and as he smilingly took his leave, we never even thought to ask for tickets. After all, we had just gotten a free concert!

Oh yes, Johnny lives in Tennessee now, but after 45 years of friendship, we are still singin' partners - and somewhere during our phone calls, one of us always asks, "Hey - you wanna join a group?" 

 

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