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The Children of Rain played one of folk music’s hallowed venues in the early fall of 1966—the Gaslight Café, in Greenwich Village. The subterranean nightspot on MacDougal Street hosted every big name in folk during its hey-day, including Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Dave Von Ronk, and scores of others, preceded by poets Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, who addressed the Beat Generation at the Gaslight back in the 1950s.
“It was the only time in our career that I can remember my knees literally shaking,” says Pam of the CofR’s three-song performance. “It didn't affect my voice, but I could barely stand up for the nerves.”
Recalls Alan: “All I remember is paralyzing fear."
The Children of Rain was a contemporary folk group, originally a trio with Pam Meacham and her brother Denis, along with Alan Ross, from 1966 through ’67. The group whittled down to the duo of Pam and Alan shortly before Dot Records released the group’s 45 rpm single “Get Together” (45-16868) in the spring of 1966, which preceded the Youngbloods’ hit of the same song by a year. Denis Meacham continued to write and play on other Children of Rain studio sessions during the group’s brief tenure, including Pam and Alan’s Philips Records release under their new name Ross Legacy (“Makes You Wanna Sigh”) in 1969.
In addition, three song collections of Children of Rain original material were produced on acetate: at Dick Charles studio, Olmsted Recording, and Delta Recording Corp. As the group was to discover 51 years later, at least one of their Delta Recording Corp. acetates survived, winding up in an online record store in Illinois.
The acetate was purchased online in 2017 by a music journalist from England renowned for unearthing "quality obscura," attracted to the recording by the somewhat unusual, poetically sad, dark name of the group. Enough so that Rob Cochrane shelled out for it, “and it wasn’t cheap.”
The quality of the work surprised Cochrane. “It has turned out to be a real find,” he says. “Although it crackles, the beauty and excellence of the work done half a century ago still shines through. Great harmonies and guitar playing. It was as good as, and better than, much that surfaced at that time.”
Cochrane’s praise energized the Children of Rain to assemble a collection from the group’s library of existing work that has survived more than 50 years, including, technologically. the analog to digital transition. The 12-song album, currently being mastered, will be released through CD Baby.com this fall (2017) and will be available as a digital download or stream on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, and other music outlets. Please check back for updates.
FOLK NIGHT HEADLINERS
In late spring of 1966, the Children of Rain were asked to headline a Folk Night at an Edison, N.J., junior high school. We had to climb over a fence to get in…and out. It was fine; it felt, I don’t know, Beatlesque in a way. As we entered through the back of the school, we walked down empty corridors with our Dot Records store banner plastered everywhere throughout the building, urging all to buy the Children of Rain’s hit “Dawn to Dusk.” Very heady. The school had pumped us to the student body!
It turned out we would get to cool our heels—the last of nine acts to go on. As a friend who accompanied us to the show remembers: “These 14-year-olds are in this dark auditorium. They’re giggling, and jumping from seat to seat. Tommy is chasing Clara, and Clara is going to get caught. The principal gets up and says that 'this is a group of professionals, and they have a record coming out on the Dot label. They were nice enough to come out here for free. We should give them our undivided attention.’ And somebody giggles.”
We were enthusiastically received, though, and the night had been a triumph of sorts. If not quite feeling like rock stars, it was our Beatles moment, exiting to a few screams and jumping over a fence back to the car.
“We were primarily a songwriting and recording group, with live performance a distant second. In the two years of our official existence as The Children of Rain, we played out three times and almost a fourth. Each instance a hilarious event of almost mythic catastrophe.
In the dead of winter 1965-66, we were asked by Pam’s godfather, well-known radio personality Jim Ameche, to sing for a father-daughter luncheon at a swanky Westchester County girls school in Tuxedo Park, N.Y., that his daughter attended. Pam and Denis were both used to getting up and singing comfortably in front of people. Not me. It was my first public performance with anything less than the size of a glee club.
We were supposed to do four or five songs. We did one, thanks to my direct confrontation with anxiety—my first stage fright episode. By song’s end, I was beginning to see stars and knew I was in the process of fainting. I veered toward Pam and said, “We’ve gotta go.” She said, “What!?” I said, “Leave the stage, now!” We all exit stage right. And two of us are clueless as to why.
“What the hell?” they both said when we were off.
“I’m so sorry,” I managed, embarrassed. “I was in the process of blacking out, and I figured a quick exit beat passing out on stage.”
What a debut.