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Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dian James (18 May 06)

chantal 20 May 06 - 02:40 PM
Hun99 21 May 06 - 12:42 PM
pdq 21 May 06 - 05:48 PM
Franz S. 21 May 06 - 06:00 PM
Seamus Kennedy 22 May 06 - 02:21 AM
Bill D 22 May 06 - 12:35 PM
GUEST,Dale 22 May 06 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,Ken - Shady Grove Radio 22 May 06 - 09:43 PM
GUEST,Michael Forney 23 May 06 - 07:35 PM
GUEST,Stan Werbin 11 Jun 06 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,Bob Sayers 20 Jan 07 - 06:46 PM
Leadbelly 21 Jan 07 - 07:46 AM
GUEST,Will 13 Nov 11 - 01:55 AM
Chris in Portland 13 Nov 11 - 11:11 AM
GUEST,Will 13 Nov 11 - 03:25 PM
Leadbelly 19 Jul 13 - 06:05 PM
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Subject: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dián James
From: chantal
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:40 PM

Dián James, the petite singer with the huge voice, particularly remembered for the stunning album she did with The Greenbriar Boys, passed away on Thursday May 18, 2006 at her home in Grass Valley, California. She had been in poor health for many years. Messages can be sent via the Contact link at www.folkbeat.net where there are some recollections from her career and music samples.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dián James
From: Hun99
Date: 21 May 06 - 12:42 PM

I have kept that record in my collection for years without listening carefully to it
I did it now after hearing about her passing away... she had a great voice indeed... too bad she didn't record more
A true loss
Maurizio


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dián James
From: pdq
Date: 21 May 06 - 05:48 PM

She was once married to Travis Edmonson. Dián only did this one record, but it is quite highly prized in folk circles. She enjoyed a career in theater and movies including a part in Doris Day's version of "The Pajama Game". The CD is coming in late August this year.


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LINER NOTES FOR DIAN & THE GREENBRIAR BOYS' DIAN & THE GREENBRIAR BOYS

By Richie Unterberger


While many folk and bluegrass fans are familiar with the Greenbriar Boys, relatively few are familiar with the unusual one-off album they did as the backup album for Dian James. Issued by Elektra around late 1963, Dian & the Greenbriar Boys did not make a big splash, in part because the singer and the band barely performed together outside of the recording studio. Their brief collaboration, however, did produce a worthwhile album of country-tinged folk, mixing material from a variety of sources.

    Dian James, according to the original LP liner notes, first became interested in country music at the age of thirteen, and subsequently performed on television shows oriented toward country-and-western listeners. As Dian & the Greenbriar Boys producer Jim Dickson remembers, James was a cousin of Randy Newman, and at the time he met her, she was the girlfriend of Travis Edmonson, half of the folk duo Bud and Travis. "She sang along with a Peter, Paul & Mary record at her house and I was impressed," he explains. "I had done some work for [Elektra founder-president] Jac Holzman and told him about her."

    Dickson was producing a number of adventurous recordings at the time by folk artists such as the Dillards, Dino Valenti, Hamilton Camp, and the Modern Folk Quartet, and thought it work well to team James and the Greenbriar Boys after seeing the bluegrass band at the Ash Grove in Los Angeles. "There was nothing planned," explains Bob Yellin, the Greenbriar Boys' banjo player. "We were on one of our regular tours, and Jim Dickson brought her to hear us. She came backstage, and was very excited. She wanted to sing a song with us onstage. I guess we must have sang something in the dressing room. It sounded good enough to be interesting to the audience, so we did a couple songs with her onstage, and that was the beginning of the idea. We decided to stay an extra week in Los Angeles, put that thing together at Dian's house, and then recorded it in a couple of days." Dickson's productions put a greater emphasis on rhythmic ensemble playing than many folk recordings of the time featured, and he enlisted his friend Jimmy Bond to play bass on the album, as he did for sessions by numerous other artists.

    Dickson also says that Holzman "okayed the Greenbriar Boys because they had played on a Joan Baez album," though Yellin does not remember this. The Greenbriar Boys were recording on their own at the time for rival folk label Vanguard, and "that was a bit of a bone of contention," Bob admits. "I remember they had to call [Vanguard executive] Maynard Solomon, and he wasn't overjoyed by the whole idea. But he let us do it, because we wanted to do it." Yellin had, in fact, played on an Elektra album about five years before this project, Paul Clayton's 1958 LP Unholy Songs of Matrimony (also issued on CD by Collectors' Choice Music), on which he accompanied Clayton on banjo and cithern.

    The material selected for the LP was diverse, including traditional numbers that had been popularized by country star Roy Acuff ("Sally Let Your Bangs Hang Down"), Leadbelly ("Alabama Bound"), and early country guitarist Riley Puckett ("Giving Everything Away"). There was also Leadbelly's Green Corn"; "Brown's Ferry Blues," by the great country harmonizing duo the Delmore Brothers; and "Cannon Ball Blues," by A.P. Carter of the Carter Family. "Sweet Willie," collected by Margot Mayo, was put to a melody by folksinger Jean Ritchie, and "Master's Bouquet," "Precious Lord," and "Tramp on the Street" were all, according to the original liner notes, adapted from the singing of country star Rose Maddox. "If I Were Free" was written by Travis Edmonson, who according to Yellin "was around quite a bit, listening to the songs and making suggestions. Mostly we suggested songs for it. I used to carry a Bill Clifton songbook around, and we pulled out a few songs out of there." Clifton was a major bluegrass musician himself, and his 150 Old-Time Folk and Gospel Songs had circulated widely in the folk and bluegrass community since its mid-1950s publication.

    "Dian was a fan of Rose Maddox, as was I from childhood, and she selected several songs from that source," adds Dickson. "Some songs came from [Greenbriar Boys mandolinist] Ralph Rinzler, such as 'Green Corn.' As long as we all agreed, we proceeded.""He Was a Friend" used an arrangement from emerging singer Hoyt Axton, who also added new lyrics. As "He Was a Friend of Mine," a variation of the song would appear a couple of years later on the second album by the Byrds, the folk-rock pioneers co-managed by Dickson in their early years.

    Both Dickson and the Greenbriar Boys were pleased with the results. "We felt like it was a good group sound," remarks Yellin. "Dian had a ton of energy. It was very different for us. We'd never done anything like that before." The website of the late Greenbriar Boys guitarist John Herald states that "Elektra was convinced it had crossover possibilities into the pop market," but as Dickson concedes, "the album didn't sell well. We did release 'He Was a   Friend of Mine' as a single and it was played on [Los Angeles radio station] KFWB by my friend B. Mitchell Reid, but Elektra wasn't ready to promote a single yet."

    Nor did Dian & the Greenbriar Boys promote the album with any live appearances, though Yellin thinks they appeared with her on the network television folk music show Hootenanny. Nor did Dian James release anything else on Elektra, and according to Dickson, "there never were any plans to record her again." The Greenbriar Boys continued to record well-received albums for Vanguard, splitting after 1966's Better Late Than Never!, which included the original version of Mike Nesmith's "Different Drum" (covered for a hit the following year by Linda Ronstadt & the Stone Poneys). Jim Dickson, of course, was a major force in the birth of folk-rock as the co-manager and early artistic mentor of the Byrds, later producing members of the band in solo projects and the Flying  Burrito Brothers. Dian James's legacy, however, is pretty much contained in this rare Elektra album, at long last made available again with this CD reissue.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dián James
From: Franz S.
Date: 21 May 06 - 06:00 PM

When I was a college senior in 1964 and had only about 20 albums, this was one of them.   Over the years at odd moments I would find myself singing "He Was A Friend" or "Tramp On The Street" or "If I Were Free" without any memory of where I had learned the songs. It's about time I played it again.

Bon voyage, Dián. And thanks.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dián James
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 22 May 06 - 02:21 AM

Boy, I love that album.
I still have it, and I just transferred it to CD.
Sorry to hear of Dian's passing.
So Ralph Rinzler, John Herald and Dian James are gone.
Leaving Bob Yellin, Frank Wakefield and Jim Buchanon.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dian James (May 18, 2006)
From: Bill D
Date: 22 May 06 - 12:35 PM

I also have the record with the Greenbriar Boys, though I haven't played it in years. I will soon, and remind myself of what we are losing. I wish she had recorded more...


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dian James (May 18, 20
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 22 May 06 - 03:53 PM

For a record that didn't sell all that well, it is a bit of a surprise to see how many of us bought and LIKED the album. I do regret that she didn't get the due I felt she deserved during her lifetime.

I too transferred the album to CD. Now if I could just find where I put it . . .


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dian James (18 May 06)
From: GUEST,Ken - Shady Grove Radio
Date: 22 May 06 - 09:43 PM

Hi Folks,

I'm grieved at Dian's passing but joyful that Shady Grove Radio is now streaming her music via Broadband and Dialup speeds. Please give this talented lady's music a listen. Shady Grove Radio is playing several songs from her 1963 album, Dian & The Greenbriar Boys, for your listening enjoyment. Many thanks to Chantal for introducing Shady Grove Radio to Dian's music! Thanks, folks, for listening!


ON DEMAND current programs, including, Folk Your Way!, May 21, 2006, featuring Dian's music!

Playlists for Shady Grove Radio

OR just go to the Shady Grove Radio Home Page and look for all links for anything connected with the station:

Shady Grove Radio Home Page


Folk On!

Ken


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dian James (18 May 06)
From: GUEST,Michael Forney
Date: 23 May 06 - 07:35 PM

When I was a college student a room mate gave me a copy of that Album Dian & The Greenbriar boys.( This was in the days when records were vinyl and about the size of a small pizza). As a budding bluegrass/ folk guitar player I listened to that album obsessively and played along imitating the breaks and licks of the Greenbriar boys. "Cannonball Blues" , "He was a friend of mine" and "Brown's Ferry Blues" became staples in my repitoire. I foolishly traded that Album for a record by some bad rock and roll band whose name I no longer remember. Recently I was able to get a copy of The DIan album on CD from a woman in Ireland (Thanks Chantal) and I felt as if I had recaptured some small but important moment of my youth.
As an adult I now play fiddle and mandolin with a couple of differnet bluegrass bands. Whenever I sing Cannon Ball Blues I hear Dian's voice and am reminded of a simpler time in my life.
I wrote to Dian in the last months before she passed away. I hope she read the note, hope she knew that her talent touched more people than she would have imagined. I am certain that I am not alone in this feeling. That CD has even more meaning on reading about Dian's passing

My Thanks to all who have contributed to this site,

Mike


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dian James (18 May 06)
From: GUEST,Stan Werbin
Date: 11 Jun 06 - 03:35 PM

When I was growing up in NYC the Greenbriar Boys were a huge influence - great music and more accessible to us city kids than the more hardcore bluegrass of the earlier bluegrass pioneers. When the album with Dian came out it was a no-brainer to get it, and it very much lived up to my expectations.

Sorry to hear of Dian's passing. The album is a fine legacy to this wonderful singer.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dian James (18 May 06)
From: GUEST,Bob Sayers
Date: 20 Jan 07 - 06:46 PM

Just found this thread. I was a big fan of the Greenbriar Boys in the 1960s (and later worked for Ralph Rinzler at the Smithsonian). So I was really excited to find two live performances by Dian and the Greenbriar Boys--"Brown's Ferry Blues" and "He was a Friend of Mine"--on a new 3-disk DVD set, "The Best of Hootenanny," available through Amazon.com. There are also classic performances by the Dillards, Flatt & Scruggs, Doc Watson, and a bunch of once-famous folkies. For me, though, "He Was a Friend of Mine" with the beautiful Dian James is the true standout. Mirabile dictu!

Bob


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dian James (18 May 06)
From: Leadbelly
Date: 21 Jan 07 - 07:46 AM

I hardly can believe that this special long-player with TGB did not sell well because even in Germany it was distributed and I bought it. Was really impressed by her great voice.
Like others, I gave this record away to a former girl-friend. In the meantime, she has gone, but fortunately I made a tape-recorded copy of all songs. Dian...

RIP

Manfred


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dian James (18 May 06)
From: GUEST,Will
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 01:55 AM

In 1960 I was a student at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Some friends and I helped to convert an adobe shack in downtown Tucson into a Folk coffee house. Sweat equity for free admission. The place was called Ash Alley 421 and it attracted some notable performers, Travis Edmonson being one. I recall that at one of his performances he was accompanied by a beautiful waif-like young woman, pale with long black hair, shy and quiet, who kept to herself. I fell in love. Unrequited. Years later, back home in Baltimore, in 1963, I came across a bluegrass album and there she was, gazing at me from the cover, surrounded by three string players not from Appalachia. I still loved her, now from afar, and bought the album with no hesitation, and no regrets. I used to dance around the house with my infant daughter to her wonderful voice and fine music. Some people you just don't, or can't, forget.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dian James (18 May 06)
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 11:11 AM

The CD can be bought -
Dian CD
My favorite was Travis' If I Were Free, which was also done by PPM.
Chris


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dian James (18 May 06)
From: GUEST,Will
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 03:25 PM

A correction to my posting on November 13th, above. The correct name of the folk club was Ash Alley 241, not 421. Some other performers at the club were Michael Cooney, the Ash Alley Singers with Alan Fudge on guitar, Judy Collins, and the Greenbriar Boys. Some attendees at the club were Linda Ronstadt (a local girl), Joan Baez, Russell Hoban, and Thornton Wilder.

Although a close second, not even Linda Ronstadt can compete in my heart with Dian James and the four hours that I spent in her company.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Blue Grass Singer Dian James (18 May 06)
From: Leadbelly
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 06:05 PM

I just listened to her on Youtube.

She was really great.


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