The Holy Modal Rounders
In the early 1960s, the Greenwich Village folk scene took a left turn away from the clean-cut sounds of The Kingston Trio. Bob Dylan was singing “Masters of War” and Phil Ochs had “Power and the Glory.” Then there were The Holy Modal Rounders, who sang songs of spacemen and horny unicorns. The traditionalists had a hard time grasping a band that added verses to old songs, but young music goers, who were on the same page as musicians Peter Stampfel and Steve Webber, dug the Rounders new vibes. Sing Out! magazine called their music “parody” in the review of their first album, but for Stampfel and Webber, they knew the music inside and out, being influenced not only by the Harry Smith Anthology of Folk Music, but also by the most popular Rock N’ Roll of the time. Even with a song on the Easy Rider soundtrack, the band never found mainstream appeal – their music was just too weird for a world dominated by The Beatles. However, their appeal has grown over the years, influencing young indie bands like Yo La Tengo and Espers. There’s even a documentary film about the group called “Bound to Lose” that showcases the odd relationship betwen Stampfel and Webber. Folk Alley’s Chris Boros features a story on The Rounders, a band that refused to conform to the the purist’s definition of folk music. Boros spoke with founding member Peter Stampfel, along with Dave Reisch, who joined the band in 1971 on bass guitar and Paul Lovelace, co-director of the documentary.