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Profile by Frank Ross




Entertainer FRANK ROSS of THE STREET MINSTRELS has been a Travis Edmonson fan for as long as he can remember. In March 2004 Frank  lived a dream come true when he actually got a chance to perform with his idol.  He told the whole story behind that special event in a letter to old friend, Kevin Kirby (now living in Alexandria , Virginia ) with whom he spent many an hour (along with Kevin `s mother Rossina) singing Bud and Travis songs in the Winterhaven area of Tucson , Arizona. Frank has kindly allowed travisedmonson.con to print excerpts of that letter.

March 26, 2004

Querido Kevin ,

 Last December 2003, Pat Jenks, who is now 92 and has been a friend of mine for three decades, had a book signing party up at a cottage in the  La Ventana Resort . My partner, Jay, and I were hired to perform there for an hour, and they all enjoyed it. There must have been at least 100 people that came through there and fellowshiped, and remembered old times.

At the end of our performance, a gentleman is wheeled in by his companion, Rose Marie. That gentleman was Travis Edmonson.  Well, I went up to him and told him it was an honor to meet him, and that just about every Mexican song I ever learned in the 60's, I learned from listening to Bud and Travis vinyl albums. He got a big kick out of that. Travis is in a wheelchair because in the early 80's he got an aneurism which paralyzed his whole left side. This -of course- made it impossible for him to play guitar.

So Rose Marie asked if I would bring out my guitar, and with her to my left, Travis in front of me and Pat Jenks to my right, I proceeded to play "Cloudy Summer Afternoon." It came out well as we both sang it .

Here I am , singing with TRAVIS EDMONSON , and he is harmonizing with me, and I am in heaven. We sang “La Vaquilla Colorada,”  “Sin Ti “ and “El Abandonado.” He told stories about Mexico, and then came more songs. I felt like I had been transported. It was amazing.

Well, we exchanged phone numbers then, and said goodbye.

A month later, Rose Marie calls me and asks me if I'd like to sing with Travis. I said, "Of course!!!" She said there was this Phoenix Folk Festival coming in March and would I like to play with Travis for that event.

I accepted immediately. So, for the last 6 weeks -every other week - we have been getting together. We narrowed our song list, and tried to get better at singing them. I also got my old -time friend Dave Thayer  to come down from the Grand Canyon where he is currently a tour guide. He and I used to spend hours listening to Bud and Travis, and so there we are, all three of us singing his songs.

"El Abandonado" sounds pretty good in 3-part harmony !!  Hahahahah.

The Sunday before our performance, Travis came down to Tucson so that we could rehearse, and then he and Rose Marie came and attended one of my trio's (The Street Minstrels) concerts. It was great to be able to perform on my turf, and on my terms . I introduced Travis midway through, and asked him to come up and sing a song with me. We did “Scotch and Soda” and “Cloudy...” and he got a standing O. So, that was neat. Then I sang and dedicated "Alma Llanera" to him. He and Bud used to perform this old Venezuelan song. We do it instrumentally . He loved it.

 I drove up to Phoenix on Friday ,March 19, a day early, so that we could do our last rehearsal on Saturday morn, since the concert was going to be Saturday afternoon. We rehearsed, but  I still didn't feel quite comfortable. However, we were just going to try it anyway, and give it our best. Saturday afternoon , we drive to El Encanto Park, where they had several venues for musicians to share their music.

At 5PM it's our turn to perform. Travis is wheeled down to the stage on the grass. We were miked, my guitar was miked, and he was introduced to a rousing applause. We start with "Everybody loves Saturday Night," followed by "Cloudy Summer Afternoon" (both of which he composed), and "Sin Ti," then "Scotch and Soda." After that he gave me a little time  on my own.


Frank Ross and The Street Minstrels
"The Street Minstrels"

I said : "I've known Travis Edmonson for 40 years. Travis has known ME for 3 months, and you can believe it's an honor for me to be here. I found out that Travis loves Brazilian music. Well, My mother was Brazilian, and I grew up with the bossa nova. So, Travis was kind enough to let me share a little song which I'd like to dedicate To him. It's a Jobim song called 'Corcovado.'" So, I performed it, and it was well-received.

After that,we did "If I were Free" (which I didn't know he had composed ... Peter , Paul and Mary sang that on one of their albums), followed by "Un Rayito de Luna " and ending it all with "This Little Light of Mine." We got a very good reception (even though , I'd blown a few of the harmonies).

I'd accomplished what I wanted, which was to focus on honoring Travis.

We ended the afternoon by going to a Mexican restaurant, having some Margaritas and harmonizing with  these three great mariachis on "El Cascabel" and other Mexican tunes.

I found out later that Travis had not performed a bona fide gig in two decades!!! Ever since his aneurism in the 80's !!! So, I felt proud to be a part of this.

And that's it ... We had a grand old time ... I had  the honor of playing with a folk hero of mine.
.
Tu amigo ,

 Francisco



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Travis Edmonson Recommendation! Love the music of Bud & Travis?  then you're sure to enjoy the fabulous STREET MINSTRELS.

If you're in Arizona, you can experience their music live, and even have them perform at an event you're arranging.  But music lovers all over the US and beyond can experience the great STREET MINSTRELS sound on CD.  Just go to www.streetminstrels.com to hear them and get ordering info!




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