Muse Letter, June 2019


As I write this The Brothers Four are in the midst a concert tour of Japan that began the last week of May and finishes up the last week of June. Besides seventeen concerts all over Japan we will do a performance in Hong Kong. To finish the tour we will as well meet a Japanese cruise ship in Alaska for a couple of shows. Representing popular American folk music continues to be an amazing adventure. I am feeling a lot of gratitude these days.


In January of 1969 I dropped out of the University of Washington to become a member of The Brothers Four. In March of 2019 I finished my academic requirements and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Communication Department at the UDub. Because of the Japan tour there was no possibility of being part of any normal or formal graduation ceremony. I decided to have a celebration that included songs and stories and special guests. At the event I received my diploma from the head of the Department, David Domke, and my lifelong friend, Jody Nyquist, who is a member of the Communication Hall of Fame. The evening also turned out to be a way for me to share a lot of what I believe and some of what I have learned over the years. Over the next several months we will be sharing videos and talking about the celebration in a series of Podcasts.


Sixty years ago during spring break from the University of Washington four college students from the Fiji house at the University of Washington got in Bob Flick’s dad’s station wagon and drove to San Francisco hoping to sing at a club known as the Hungry i. The story that goes that they were originally rejected. Then an act scheduled for that night for some reason couldn’t make. The guys from Seattle got a second chanced and ended up packing the place with fraternity brothers and their dates from Cal Berkeley. Dave Brubeck’s manager, Mort Lewis, was in the audience. He was impressed and said he would get a tape to Columbia Records. Columbia Records signed them. Mort Lewis became their manager. Within 18 months the group had a #2 song in the world, “Greenfields.” Their recording of “Green Leaves of Summer” was nominated for an Academy Awards. They also performed at the Kennedy Inauguration and became part of folk royalty during the folk wave of the early 60’s.
It is an amazing story. Perhaps equally amazing is the idea that group is still going strong and continuing to share the American Folk Songbook with the world.

60 Years of the Brothers Four

It was 50 years ago this summer that I made my first trip to Japan as a member of The Brothers Four. In 1969 at twenty-two there was no way to anticipate all the twists and turns or to imagine that I would be writing this while on yet another tour of this amazing country. I estimate that I have made about thirty-five visits. Some of the tours have included performances in other countries. This one will include a stop in Hong Kong. Then there were the trips to Taiwan for New Year’s Eve performances, South Korea for a festival, as well as a trip to mainland China. Adding all of them together I have had a chance to make over forty visits to Asia to sing. Amazing.   


When I was just starting out when I performed at different places I would pass the hat and whatever people decided to donate was the pay for the evening’s entertainment. After all these years it’s returned to that on this website. I am asking those who are willing to contribute what they wish through the Patreon site. For those willing to give $10/month I will send you either the DVD of the May 13, 2017 concert at Benaroya Hall or the DVD of Mike McCoy’s and my 50th Anniversary Concert. For $20/month if you choose the Benaroya DVD you can also get the CD of the “Gratitude, Grit, and Grace” album. If you choose the Pearson/McCoy DVD you can get the “Between Friends” and “Between Old Friends” CD’s. 
Whether you decide to donate or not, thank you for sharing this amazing journey.