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Mel Green: Bio Mel Green
My earliest memories are of warbling along to hits of the 40s and 50s on the radio with my mother. I sang at school assemblies, at sing-alongs supporting my high school rugby team, and for my classmates when I picked up a guitar from a still-life arrangement at art school in Cape Town.
I borrowed a friend's f-hole guitar to ward off boredom after completing homework assignments at art school. Malaguena was the first tune I figured out by ear" and popular songs of that time soon followed.
One summer afternoon sitting on our apartment balcony I played guitar and sang, earning applause from a girl across the way. Ever since then I practiced and soon discovered folk music after transferring to the Johannesburg School of Art.
I was soon hanging out at the Troubadour Coffeehouse in Johannesburg, almost every night, and became a waiter to be there all the time. All the while studying the guitar-picking styles of the singers playing on that little triangular stage with the hangman's noose suspended from the procenium.
I watched and studied the regular performers very closely: Des Lindberg and Keith Blundell, Leon & Mike, and others who stirred the attentive audiences. One evening I sang along to "Go tell it on the mountain", my loud harmony prompting British import Gary Bryden to pause in mid-song to invite me up on stage to sing with him. SInce then I never looked back!
Soon after, I persuaded my art school comedian friend Mel Miller to join me at the Troubadour ... we sang our entire repertoire... [only three songs] for manager, Keith Blundell, who promptly hired us to take over the Wednesday evening slot, which was soon to be vacated.
We played hooky, "bunking" art school for a month, and even then, when we took the stage at our first gig, we found we still had too few songs, so Mel Miller spontaneously filled in with jokes and extremely funny stories he had been telling at art school. And that's how our reputation as a folk-comedy duo took root.
Within a year, after we had appeared in the first Johannesburg Folk Festival concerts, we were signed to Columbia after being recorded with all the other performers for the compilation concert album. Soon after that, we were persuaded to leave our day jobs to go pro, taking a residency at South Africa's top hotel, appearing as Mel & Mel 6 nights a week, playing totally acoustic!
Our success in filling our own "room", prompted us to hire Julian Laxton as our lead-guitarist for our next contract in Durban and in East London. We made three albums with him and enjoyed a short but stellar career, during the time of the Beatles, Stones and the other 60s greats. (That's the short version of our group story... please visit www.melmelandjulian.com for more of that very eventful tale...
Nearly forty years later, I am performing solo, writing and picking as enthusiastically as ever... Apart from my recent recording venture, with my own small band, I have been writing and recording with The Maple Street Project, a folk-rock quintet I co-founded in the western suburbs of Boston and which has been together for over 20 years! It has proven to be a collaboration and a hotbed of inspiration for my own songwriting efforts. (www.maplestreetproject.com)... Thanks guys!
For my "solo" gigs, usually my friend and collaborator, Paul Lee accompanies me. He is a wonderfully versatile keyboard player, as well as a very good and knowlegable quitarist and singer, who I first met at Summer Acoustic Music Week. Occasionally, I expand the band adding sax and flute and percussion, and have even included a drummer on some gigs. The band "project" is an ever-growing one as I play my own songs, attempting to re-create the sounds from my CD, "I'm Taking My Time" and interpreting other songs as well.
I encourage you (if you've read this far... thank you!) to watch this space for more developments.
Bio - The Short Version
Mel went solo in 1967, and was described as a cross between John Denver and Glen Campbell... his wonderful tenor voice soaring and captivating his audiences, his entertaining ways endearing himself to his audiences.
He emigrated to the USA in 1970, stopping along the way to play at the Cecil Sharpe House (English Folk Song Society) in London, ... and then in Greenwich Village coffeehouses like The Gaslight and Gerde's Folk City, as well as doing cabaret in the Poconos, before settling in Cambridge in 1972 where he played at Club Passim (formerly Club 47) after being invited by Bob Donlin to open for Sandy Bull and later for the great Rosalie Sorrels.
Back in 1963, Mel founded South Africa's top folk trio... Mel, Mel and Julian, who were often described as that country's answer to The Kingston Trio/Smothers Brothers, because their marathon shows mixed well-played and sung music with hilarious comedy. The group boasts residencies at top hotels, performing nightly to capacity audiences in South Africa from 1963 through 1967.
Mel grew up in suburban Johannesburg, South Africa during the 50s and 60s and has been singing since he was a toddler. He took up guitar at art school, refining his fingerpicking when he was a waiter at Johannesburg's Troubadour Coffeehouse. He became an advertising art director, but soon gave that up to go into professional music with his art school buddy, Mel Miller at the height of the folk boom, going pro soon after the early folk festivals.
Their successful early residency at Durban's top hotel encouraged them to find a lead guitarist, and they found the best, one Julian Laxton who could play anything. Their reputation of Mel, Mel and Julian as top notch entertainers secured them a recording contract and they made three albums for Columbia Records.
During the 70s, despite encouragement from the late Bob Donlin of Club Passim, he chose marriage and family which kept him away from the professional music scene. He continued playing and honing his music and his songwriting skills.
The 80s and 90s found him singing, playing and writing songs with a duo, which soon became a trio called The Maple Street Project, (www.maplestreetproject.com) with two friends he met at his Temple in Needham, during the mid-90s they added a bass player and a drummer to fill out their sound. They still get together occasionally to perform well into the 2000s.
In 2000, Mel decided to re-enter the local Boston folk-scene, and has since then been attending many of the open-mic venues in and around Greater Boston... another great way was by attending the Summer Acoustic Music Week, (sponsored by WUMB-FM radio) which is an acoustic music week attended by a lucky hundred or so like-minded people up at Lake Winnipesawkee in New Hampshire.
Mel was always a pretty good folk guitarist, and was influenced very early by the wide array of folk music... and the many new things learned at music camp have rounded him out even more so. For one, his songwriting has come to the fore, and he has picked up other instruments as well as other styles of music. He now plays some Mandolin, he still plays Harmonica, and also Electric Bass Guitar and Ukulele.
All this encouraged him to plan a solo CD, his first... which was completed in 2010.
Since releasing that CD in June of 2010, ("I'm Taking My Time") Mel's music is resonating with audiences and his music is getting national airplay on radio stations here, in Europe and Australia.