Lynn Gold wrote this stunning profile of Travis Edmonson in the last months of his life.
The popular folk singer Lynn Gold, a regular at The Ashgrove in Los Angeles, and someone very familiar to Bud & Travis fans for her star turns on the “licorice pizza” LP “Saturday Night at the Coffee House,” writes about Travis Edmonson and the very special qualities of B&T.
“How lucky and blessed was I!
To witness the intricate arrangements and brilliant harmonies as Bud & Travis came into The Ash Grove night after night, trying out new material that is now legendary.
Those were their earliest times together, and I saw it all happen. To have been there and experienced the artistry unfolding between Travis Edmonson and Bud Dashiell this way was, as the poet Auden says (I'm paraphrasing), seeing the past now for the first time as it actually was. Images abound of the young Travis I remember - so vividly alive and electric, fluid grace on stage with movements so quick the eye could barely follow. He was quicksilver!
Travis and bud were two of the greatest. I can still see them vibrantly running up the ash grove aisle, jumping on stage, facing the audience with big, gorgeous grins and tight black pants (they were both drop-dead handsome which is folky irrelevant but a nice touch). And the electric effect of their guitar virtuosity and woven harmonies were totally unique and beautiful to hear ... took your breath away!
They could sound like the prairie, two drunken mariachis, minstrels, hillbillies, chanticleers, classicists, you name it. And they were funny and charming and witty, as with their hilarious version of "Rioting in Africa." And though they had a routine established, there was a lot of off the cuff kidding around on stage too.
Each had their own strengths and brought something that made the other better … like two Olympic tennis players ... together they were knock your socks off musicians.
Trav's harmonies, weaving voice with guitar, were seamless and so very beautiful, flooding the ash grove's huge domed room with a thrilling sound. When we heard that music for the first time (and every time thereafter), it was breathtaking!
All, if not most of those I saw up there performing over the years with their backs to the wall, bared their souls, got up on stage with grit, and talked to us through their music; they did what many fail to do ... they used their God-given gift like Travis did.
And that is the measure of a well lived, truly great and successful life ... all the rest of it goes ... the money ... the fame. So many will leave so little, but Travis is an important part of our cultural heritage. He and bud were originals.
To see and hear Travis and bud again on travisedmonson.com is such a joy. Time's stopped, and I feel as if I could hop in the car, rush down to the [Ash] Grove, and watch the two of them up on that magical stage as I did countless times after my own sets.
… The manager Ed Pearl in his navy blue Ed Murrow turtleneck, dangling a cigarette, sitting out in the audience Zen-like and the sound of his one hand clapping ... Ed Michel as he played behind me so beautifully I could have just listened to him. (Then he ran to get the lights... he did everything.)
It is all so deeply vivid to me.
Bud and Travis were superior musicians, dynamic on stage, with highly intelligent and witty chatter between songs. I saw them light up the west coast with their music when the folk scene was just beginning ... the longest lines around the Ash Grove, which they helped establish, were for them ... not only one encore night after night but two or three with the crowd still yelling for more.
And they were the nicest guys ... the adulation never went to their heads. I was just starting out ... a fledgling, and in awe of their virtuosity. They were very good to me, and to everyone else as well. Both were intelligent, articulate and avid readers as well.
I also worked at the Gate of Horn in Chicago with them ... it was the same thing ... three encores and long lines. And offstage they were grounded, mature professionals, serious about the music to a point of perfection.
I recall Bud once coming off the stage after three encores, turning to me and saying, "we were terrible" ... Why? It had nothing to do with ego or insecurity ... but he later told me what had happened … some minor thing no one could possibly have noticed.
That's how deeply they cared, and the result was incandescent!
(When B&T were first getting it together, I remember someone mentioning they had "woodshedded" - when there's only you, guitar, songs and God - for months before getting up on a stage.)
Travis' music and words and presence are indelible, and he is one of those whose songs will be sung one hundred years from now. I think trav and what he accomplished, his singular life and legacy, are what legends are made of. And if God has any say in it, he is certainly a man bound for glory.
An anonymous poem says it best. “… and when we come to the edge of all we know ... there will be earth upon which to stand, or we will be given wings.” And no question about it, Travis Edmonson is someone who has already flown higher than most!”
Lynn Gold is presently writing a novel of medieval Scotland
"A Night at The Ash Grove" - the alternate version of "Saturday Night at the Coffee House
Travis Edmonson by
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Travis Edmonson made his breakthrough with The Gateway Singers, resident group at the hungry i
Be sure and check out the website celebrating the great San Francisco club at www.hungryi.net
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