The Kingston Trio is an American folk and pop music group that helped launch the folk revival of the late 1950’s to late 1960’s…..as the group started as a San Francisco Bay Area nightclub act with an original lineup of Dave Guard, Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds….which rose to international popularity….which was fueled by unprecedented sales of LP records….and helped alter the direction of popular music in the U.S.
The Kingston Trio was one of the most prominent groups of the era’s pop-folk boom that started in 1958 with the release of their first album and its hit recording of “Tom Dooley”….which sold over three million copies as a single. The Trio released nineteen albums that made Billboard’s Top 100….of which fourteen ranked in the top 10….and five of which hit the # 1 spot….while four of the group’s LPs charted among the 10 top-selling albums for five weeks in November and December of 1959….which was a record that remained unmatched for more than 50 years….and the group still ranks in the all-time lists of many of Billboard’s cumulative charts….including those for most weeks with a # 1 album….most total weeks charting an album….most # 1 albums ….most consecutive # 1 albums….and most top ten albums.
In 1961, the Trio was described as “the most envied, the most imitated, and the most successful singing group, folk or otherwise, in all show business”….and “the undisputed kings of the folksinging rage by every yardstick”. The Trio’s massive record sales in its early days made acoustic folk music commercially viable….thus paving the way for singer-songwriter, folk rock, and Americana artists who followed in their wake. The Kingston Trio continues to tour as of 2019 with musicians who licensed the name and trademark in 2017.
“M.T.A.”, often called“The MTA Song”, is a 1949 song by Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes…..which was known informally as“Charlie on the MTA”….as the song’s lyrics tell an absurd tale of a man named Charlie trapped on Boston’s subway system….which was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The song was originally recorded as a mayoral campaign song for Progressive Party candidate Walter A. O’Brien…..while a version of the song with the candidate’s name changed became a 1959 hit….when it was recorded and released by The Kingston Trio, an American folk singing group. The song has become so entrenched in Boston lore that the Boston-area transit authority named its electronic card-based fare collection system the “CharlieCard”….as a tribute to this song.