40 Years Of Listening To Cisco Houston
From Lund, Sweden
To me it all began around 1962. Even in this part of the world, The Kingston Trio and other folk groups were on the record charts. I somehow understood there was something behind the hits, something more raw and genuine. So I went to the U.S. Embassy and a lady there, working at the department for culture, lent me a tape (reel-to-reel) with American folk songs. She said her own personal favorite was Pete Seeger. (Remember those were "Cold War" days!) Most of the selections were very good, including "Soldier's Joy" by Jimmy Driftwood and "Banks of the Sacramento" by Ed McCurdy. Two songs, however, struck me in a more definite fashion: "Sweet Betsy From Pike" and "Chisholm Trail" by Cisco Houston.
So I bought some of his records. I think by now I own all but one. I picked up a guitar and started singing. Cisco was my real teacher. I went through, and perhaps still am at, a stage of imitation. (Incidentally, you learn a hell of a lot of English, also, this way!) For one thing, there is a strumming technique he frequently uses, but which is rarely heard from other performers. I don't know how he does it, of course (a good example is "Chisholm Trail") but I acquired something I believe to be damn near identical. I suspect he did it with a plectrum. I use my little finger. I think I could sing at least 20 or 30 of his songs by heart.
Olle's Cisco/Folk Singing Page: http://hem.fyristorg.com/olleholmqvist/vissangare.htm Enjoy his rugged and manly voice singing in some foreign language and an interestingly accented English!