I remember telling my father, on his 28th birthday, that I was "never going to work like you do," as he was leaving for his job as a welder in a steel mill in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  He played guitar and taught me to sing early in my life - something I loved doing and did pretty well.  I knew even then that my voice and love of performing were my way out of there and into the future.  By the time I was in high school, I had my own local radio program singing classical, folk, and Broadway show songs.  I had also been converted to progressive, working class politics and the free-thinking Christianity of the Episcopal Church.  I believed then - as I do now - that these two conversions were one and the same.

On graduation, college was not a possibility - we couldn't afford it - so I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force to get the GI Bill.  Within a few months I was singing with the chorus at Sampson Air Force Base in New York State and, after an audition, I was scheduled to join the "Singing Sergeants" in Washington, DC.  It never happened.  I soon found out that the OSI (the military FBI) was investigating me because of my political opinions and I ended up in the stockade, where I was incarcerated and intensely questioned for three months.  Apparently, reading the "wrong books," listening to Pete Seeger, and talking about it were frowned upon.  Military prisons were then (and still are) not very nice places.  If I wasn't a radical when I went in, I was certainly one when I left.  They told me, eventually, that I was a "security risk" and offered me an honorable discharge - along with my much needed GI Bill.  I was out of there!

From there I was off to Lebanon Valley College back in Pennsylvania.  LVC was, and still is, an excellent school with a good music department and a great drama program.  I met my future wife Charlotte playing opposite her in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," a play which expressed quite well the kind of witch hunt I had personally encountered in the military.

We were also cast in "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams, who years later, after I left the Trio, became my friend.  Charlotte was a talented singer, and when she graduated, headed off to New York to try her luck on Broadway.  One year later, after a stint at the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut, I joined her there and we were married.  Charlotte immediately began getting jobs in musicals and I sang in choral groups and did summer stock in NJ and update NY.

That's just about when the Kingston Trio's success made folk music popular again.  Because of my politics, I had always been an avid fan of Pete Seeger and the Almanac Singers, the Weavers, Josh White, Paul Robeson - all those who were carrying on the struggle for social justice in music and in their witness to society.  I knew all the songs - I only needed an opportunity to sing them.  That's when I heard that Harry Belafonte was looking for someone to join the Chad Mitchell Trio.