The Honeyman Trio

"The Honeyman Trio: A Unique Vocal Group" Jim Rose, brother of leader Bill Rose, managed The Honeyman Trio in Lansing, Michigan.
The Honeyman Trio recorded for Channel 6 at a Lansing ski lodge in January, 1967. The trio and accompanists pose for the camera in ski sweaters.

The Honeyman Trio. Left to right in the front: Bill Moore, Larry Dolbee, Bill Rose. In back, Glen Newton (with 12-string guitar, behind Bill Moore) and Mike Gleason (with string bass, behind Bill Rose)

In the 1960's, Bill Rose, singer and guitarist, visited the Honeyman State Park in Oregon, and he admired it so much that he named his folk group after it. Bill, who sang the middle parts in the group's arrangements, had formed the group with tenor Larry Dolbee and baritone Bill Moore. Both Moore and Rose played guitars, but they were looking for additional punch in the accompaniment. They found Michigan State University math major Glen Newton, who played both 12-string guitar and 5-string banjo. On occasion, Glen also played electric bass behind the group, but eventually the trio decided that they wanted both a bass player and a dedicated banjo/guitar accompanist. They added MSU student Mike Gleason on bass, and Glen stayed on the higher instruments.

The group had a well-balanced repertoire, emphasizing the music of Woody Guthrie and other American balladeers. "I Ain't Got No Home" and "Shame and Scandal in the Family" were two songs in the group's repertoire.

Partway through the group's career, Larry got married. To help his wife Vicki with the new baby while holding down a regular job, he had to drop out of the group, and for one performance, Glen replaced him, singing the top tenor part and playing guitar. Despite the high tessitura, Glen handled it well, except for cracking the high "A" on "Shame and Scandal". But Bill Rose decided they needed to suspend further performances unless Larry came back or they found an equally exceptional singer, because it was Larry's fine voice that made them "a unique vocal group", as advertised on their business card.

The group advertised in the local and campus newspapers for a tenor to join an established folk group. One of the candidates was Mike Mottl, whose John Denver-like singing voice and four-string guitar playing were exceptional but not what the Honeyman Trio was looking for. Later Mike and Glen formed the folk group The Cobblestones, together with alto Carmen Apelgren.

While on a road trip to a performance with the trio, the group took a break to toss a football around by the roadside. Glen caught one of those passes with his left hand at ground level, and his left little finger was badly bruised. For that evening's performance, he held the bruised finger out of the way, playing with only three fingers of his left hand. When it healed, the little finger would no longer bend backward. For a guitarist, this loss of flexibility was an improvement, because it facilitated barring across 3 or 4 strings with the little finger.