From Vegas...


By • Feb 1st, 2001 •

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Its Sunday night at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada and there is standing room only for the show. Then, just for walking on stage, Peter, Paul, and Mary receive a rousing ovation from the audience, many of whom are products of the 60s. Surely this is an amazing indication of continuing success. For the next hour and forty-five minutes this remarkable trio perambulate down memory lane, much to the delight of the assembled throng, most of whom know the words to every song.

‘Puff the Magic Dragon’, the second song of this performance, first came into my conscious awareness in 1968. Talk about a double entendre, this was it. Commanding a Special Forces camp in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, Puff was a C-47 gunship that came by at night to rain death and destruction when the Viet Cong attacked. In the midst of that war, while on R&R in Honolulu it became a favorite song of my then seven-year-old son, Marc. It is that connotation that has stuck with me ever since, as it seemed ironic that these staunchly anti-war folk-signers would have such an impact on a warrior. Being relatively naïve at the time, I was not aware of the controversy that arose because some suggested there was a relationship to drugs inferred in the lyrics. That has passed and Puff resounds as a standard in pubs everywhere now.

Encouraged by the trio, the audience joined in on nearly every chorus. Surprisingly to me, the melodies were carried extremely well as the group accompanied. Clearly everyone was anxious to participate with such classics as ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’, ‘Wayfaring Stranger’, ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’, and ‘If I had a Hammer’. A sentimental favorite was ‘Where Have all the Flowers Gone’, which is taking on meaning for a new cohort of fans as the world devolves into increasingly chaotic states.

It has been a long time since Peter, Paul, and Mary first gathered together to sing at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village. But in their four decades the trio has inspired folk singers around the world. Similarly the members have continued in their socially conscious activities in many countries. No one can ever accuse them of not being involved in the movements that they sing about. They continue to tour selectively and are perennially welcomed as returning headliners in Las Vegas.

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