TAEM- The Arts and Entertainment Magazine loves to delve into music that has inspired us for generations. We recently discovered two artists who were originally part of the popular group ‘The Highwaymen’ in the 1960’s. This group played in over 400 colleges in North America, and appeared on many popular television shows. Today former members Roy Connors and Alan Scharf continue those melodies in their new group, ‘2 Guys’ .
Roy and Alan, I’ll field these questions between you, starting with Roy. Roy, please tell us about the formation of the original group and the style of music that they generated.
RC- The original group started about 1960 at Wesleyan University. At that time they were known as the Clansmen singing for beer and peanuts at fraternity parties like most of the other early folk groups.
Inspired by the Kingston Trio, they went to New York where they teamed up with manager Ken Greengrass who advised them to change their name to The Highwaymen because the name Clansmen smacked of prejudice. Greengrass secured a recording contract with United Artists where The Highwaymen recorded ‘Michael, Row the Boat Ashore’ in 1961. After it’s release, it soared to the top of the charts and quickly became a standard song around campfires all over the country. It made recording history becoming #1 in every major country in the world at the same time. ‘Michael’, was followed by a string of folk songs, both protest and songs from other countries.TAEM- Alan, Who did the group appeal to, and tell our readership about their popularity and the culture of that time ?
AS- The Highwaymen’s music appealed mostly to youngsters of college age who, it seemed, all played the guitar and were protesting everything imaginable.
AS- Our first concert was in a large University in Upstate, NY (the name escapes me), but I do remember a standing ovation and three encores.
TAEM- Roy, what were some of the great hits were The Highwaymen noted for, and what instruments do you play.
RC- We had four multi-million sellers including ‘Michael, Row the Boat Ashore’, ‘Cottonfields’, ‘Gypsy Rover’, and ‘Whiskey in the Jar’. I play
5-string banjo, 8-string guitar for which I hold US patent number 3,269,247. I also play drums, all percussion instruments, ukulele and an incredible kazoo.
TAEM- Alan, please tell our readers about the instruments that you brandish as well.
AS-I play classical guitar, ukulele, tambourine, fiddle, harmonica and my kazoo work is even better than Roy’s.
TAEM- Alan, Tell us the names of the popular television shows that the group appeared on and how they booked them.
AS- We were booked by our talent agency, ‘Agency for the Performing Arts (APA)’ on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Today Show, The Merv Griffin Show, Mike Douglas Show, On Broadway Tonight starring Rudy Valle, The Al Hirt Show, American Bandstand with Dick Clark, Hullabaloo hosted by Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme Special, The Soupy Sales Show and That Was the Week That Was.
TAEM- Roy, the group played Carnegie Hall four times. How exciting was this for all of you, and tell us about the prestige these events led to.
RC- We opened for The Dave Clark Five to a theatre filled with screaming teenagers. At that time, Carnegie Hall management would not book Rock and Roll acts without the addition of a more traditional musical group such as The Highwaymen. The prestige of playing Carnegie Hall was not only exciting but of great value for our self esteem. We discovered that the old adage on how to get to Carnegie was true. “Practice, practice, practice.”
TAEM- Alan, please tell us about the other members from that former group and what made the two of you carry on its popularity as 2 Guys.
AS- The original group was a quintet which shortly afterwards, became a quartet, including Roy and me, Renny Temple and Mose Henry. Mose has recently passed away, and Renny lives in Los Angeles involved in financial services industry.
After the group disbanded, Roy went into the advertising field in New York and I continued my singing and acting career living on the west coast of CA, performing in many commercials and films. One day, after 45 years of being apart, I received a call from Roy who had tracked me down via the Internet. The voice on the other end of the line said, “Alan, you can run but you can’t hide.” Two years later, my wife and I moved to Florida and, as it turned out landed about a 15 minute drive from Roy who was living in Boca Raton. We met, began singing together as a lark and it was so much fun, and we still sounded good together, and that was all she wrote.
TAEM- Roy, aside from some of the songs that the two of you have revived from the original group what new work have you produced and where can they be found ?
RC- In addition to singing many of the original songs, we have added to our repertoire, songs from The Beatles, The Everly Brothers, and other folk songs that we, as The Highwaymen never sang. We even go so far as to add Broadway tunes such as They Call the Wind Mariah. We basically sing anything that lends itself to our instrumentation including 50s Rock and Roll.
RC- We have a Facebook page as ‘2 Guys Harmony’, and our website is ‘2guysharmony.com’ which contains all of our contact information, including a link to our gallery where anyone can watch a number of videos featuring 2 Guys singing 6 songs from our repertoire.
We are presently available for concerts, parties and private events. We are scheduled for a 2 hour concert at a country club in Boca Raton, FL on July 4th. We are also scheduled for a concert to benefit the local Alzheimer’s Association on September 21st. We are in negotiation for performance during the summer.
TAEM- Alan, what are the plans for the two of you for the future, and have considered writing songs for other performers ?
AS- Writing for ourselves is and has always been our priority but we are also open to writing for others as well. In fact, Roy has written many jingles for TV commercials and a rock group in Brazil is presently singing one of his songs.
TAEM- Alan and Roy, you have most certainly upheld the music from my own youth and have not lost any of the quality that you continually display from what I had remembered you for. It has been really been exciting to be able to interview the both of you and we want to thank you so much for your time with us. We also wish the two of you much luck and look forward to hearing more about you in the future.