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  Barry Blake on Bud & Travis




Columnist BARRY BLAKE has consented the reprinting of the following excerpt from his Times Standard article “Long Live Old Albums.” It appeared in his weekly column “Pass the Popcorn,”  where he details which of his LPs were the most important to re-master onto CD.  (In the end, he chose to purchase CDs from the Travis Edmonson Collection.)


“ … At the top of the list was Bud and Travis. They made eight albums in the short, fast and angry eight years they were together. I first heard and saw Travis Edmonson when he sang with the Gateway Singers in the early fifties; after that group dissolved, Travis met Bud Dashiell; they recorded their first album in 1959 on Liberty Records, “Bud and Travis.” Theirs was an incredibly fortuitous blend of voices, musicianship, and musical tastes.  Travis's voice defined the word lilting, pure and definitive, and with Bud's raspy, blowzy sound they melted together. Originally recorded in “Hi-Fi,” the albums that have been digitally re-mastered, at least those from starbeams.com, are pristine in honoring the alloyed quality of their sound as well as the stereo separation.

Although their music could be described as eclectic-some songs were occasionally heard in the background at the Roslyn Café in “Northern Exposure”-they were best known for their bolero style Mexican melodies that featured the unusual “mariachi slap,” a rhythmic thunk on the top of the guitar.

Both men were exceptional musicians. Having grown up in the border town of Nogales, Arizona, and played in a mariachi band, Travis mastered virtually every string instrument except the violin and brought much Latin music into their canon.

In his later years and before he died of a brain tumor in 1989, Bud Dashiell was a respected guitar and music teacher in the Los Angeles area. Stories tell that in their later years they never spoke to each other off the stage, and their on-stage partnership finally ended in a fistfight in the green room at the Gate of Horn in Chicago.

Although later compilation albums are available (“Bud and Travis: The Santa Monica Concert” and “The Best of Bud and Travis”) I loved their debut album most. The Santa Monica Album is terrific but unevenly recorded and contains a lot of between-songs comedy patter, which now feels like you-had-to-be-there material. “The Best of” would be bettered titled “Almost the Best of..” because although it is huge-24 songs, well over an hour of music), some are not well engineered, nor does it include “Raspberries, Strawberries.”

“Raspberries, Strawberries” can be found on “Spotlight on Bud and Travis,” (1960) which is still being engineered and won't be available until the spring, according to starbeams.com.

When my 19 year old son heard the Bud and Travis version of “La Bamba,” he said in wonder, “Wow! I've never heard it covered like that before.” Later, he recorded the whole album.

Even though these albums weren't top o' the chart, mega-commercial hits in their time, their thoughtful perspectives, grand respect for voice, stellar musicianship, and  insistence on doing what they wanted because it was what THEY wanted make them fresh and viable almost half a century later.”


Barry Blake
August 2005



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