A REUNION? We have been researching venues...


Occasionally we hear from old fans, who invariably ask:  Wouldn't a re-union of Mel, Mel & Julian be wonderful?

A REUNION?
The band was planning to re-unite in South Africa in 2018 for a few dates in the Johannesburg area... Due to complications that will not be happening as we had hoped,
although some research is still going on...

 

Mel, Mel & Julian from an interview in a Durban newspaper, drawn by Jock Leyden, who got it right!

 Mel Miller continues his stellar career as Grandfather of South African comedy at shows around South Africa.

   Julian Laxton continues to make his own great music, plus sessions, sound-tracks, commercials around South Africa.  
   Mel Green is a Graphic Designer, Painter, and Illustrator. He still makes music as a songwriter and performs regularly  around Boston, USA...
 
  Watch this space and your local media for news of future shows!
We are pleased to announce our South African Booking Agent:To inquire about future shows, please contact Rael Birns at Rael@raelbirns.co.za  or at 081 452-1100

Once upon a time in the 60s...

How Mel & Mel met: where they performed; when Julian joined the band; who they met along the way; their influences and the key people in their brief, but sweet career ... and what they're up to today. Enjoy!

Links in the M,M&J Chain...

Influences & Earworms...

Two young guys singing in an art school classroom at lunch hour to appreciative listeners, and the realization that they had something special.

Key people and places in their career:

The Troubadour Coffee/Steakhouse in Johannesburg, THE folk club where it was happening!

Gary Bryden, Brit folkie, who got Little Mel up on stage at the Troub in the first place.

Keith Blundell, who auditioned Mel & Mel and who without hesitation offered them a weekly gig at the Johannesburg Troubadour..

Des Lindberg who kept them on at the Troubadour as headliners, when they weren't playing full-time at their long hotel residencies.

Ben Segal, quiet folk fanatic and founder of SAFMA, the South African Folk Music Association, and 3rd Ear Music, who opened his vast collection of music and his hospitality to the guys. 

Johnny Kongos, friend and a hit-making rock & roller, who encouraged them & introduced them to...

John E. Sharpe, a wonderful bluesman, who was managed by...

Billy Forrest, South Africa's greatest C&W singer and mentor to many young musicians, who became their manager, friend and guiding light.

Brenda Newfield, a wonderful folksinger, who gave Mel  & Mel some of their first gigs, and who opened up her home & her record collection to them, thus helping them expand their repertoire. 

David Sapire, a photographer and a fan who also helped with their repertoire, and who most significantly... introduced Mel and Mel  to his brother Julian!

Mike Dorsey, entrepreneur & club owner on the Durban music scene, became a fan, a mentor and helped the band in many ways.

Their influences. They  listened to everything possible, at parties, record shops, friend's living rooms, records and reel-to-reel tapes... absorbing everything that appealed to their evolving musical tastes and their developing musical skills. 

See the BLOG PAGE which has a list of recording artists and songs which first caught their ear(s) and whose styles and genres were adapted to suit their style, carrying on the "the folk-process" down in South Africa.

 

Historic Reference

In 1994 Mel, Mel & Julian were acknowledged and included in the book, "History of Contemporary Music in South Africa"...taking their place as one of few notable folk groups to make an impression on the evolving contemporary music scene.

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Darcy Farrow

03:14
Mel, Mel & Julian
Gillette, Campbell

Story

When first heard on an Ian & Sylvia LP, the trio, like many folks, might have sworn this was an old traditional song... but it isn't. Steve Gillette and Tom Campbell wrote it... a beautiful sad song with a bad ending, it became very popular, and it has been recorded by many. This version was recorded for Mel,Mel & Julian's second LP "One More Town" which included songs by contemporary "folk" singer-songwriters. Note: the place names in the song are actual and can be found on a map of the Western USA, in California and Nevada.

In addition: 

The song was written in 1964, by Tom Campbell and Steve Gillette and is based on something that happened to Steve's little sister whose name is Darcy. At twelve years old she was running behind her horse, chasing the horse into the corral, when she was kicked. She broke her cheekbone, but had no other lasting effects. She did spend three days in the hospital and all were concerned that she might have a concussion. She's fine today and has two grown sons.

During that time, Tom Campbell took a melody that Steve had written and came up with a story about the two young lovers and the tragic fall. Steve was a little horrified at the idea since it was so dark, and involved his sister's name, but as they worked with it and steered it in the direction of the old cowboy songs, he was much more comfortable with it. So many of the old cowboy songs take their melodies from the Scottish, English and Irish musical traditions.

The place names are actual places around the region of the high valleys and the Walker River. The Truckee River runs through Reno. Tom lived in Yerrington for a time when he was eight or nine years old, his dad was an engineer and was involved in the mining industry there. People say that they have captured something of the feeling of the high desert, and some have even looked for graves or other evidence of the old story.

When they had finished the song in the summer of 1964, Tom and Steve had a chance to sing it for Ian & Sylvia who were the first to record it. Tom had taken a folklore class with D.K. Wilgus at UCLA and mentioned to Ian that he used to turn in songs he had written or added to and claimed he had collected them from his grandfather. Ian got a big kick out of that idea, and incorporated it into his introduction to the song. In their travels, Ian and Sylvia spread that story to lots of people around the country. Of course, they introduced the song to all those people at the same time.

And... we like many others, borrowed the song from the Ian & Sylvia recording... and in turn also recorded it.

Lyrics

Where the Walker runs down to the Carson Valley plain,

There lived a maiden, Darcy Farrow was her name

The daughter of old Dundee and fair was she

And the sweetest flower that bloomed o'er the range.

 

Her voice was sweet as the sugar candy
Her touch was as soft as a bed of goose down.
Her eyes shone bright like the pretty lights
That shine in the night out of Yarrington town.

She was courted by young Vandermeer
And quite handsome was he I am to hear
He brought her silver rings and lacy things
And she promised to wed before the snows fell that year.

But her pony did stumble and she did fall.
Her dyin' touched on the heart of us all.
Young Vandy in his pain put a bullet to his brain
And we buried them together as the snows began to fall.

They sing of Darcy Farrow where the Truckee runs through
They sing of her beauty in Virginia City too.
At dusty Sundown to her name they drink a round
And to young Vandy whose love was true.