Remarks from The Mudcat discussion forum following Travis Edmonson's death
Username: TJ in San Diego
I have just learned that Travis Edmonson passed away quietly in Phoenix, Arizona, the evening of May 9th after a long and difficult illness.
Bud (the late Bud Dashiell) & Travis were never, strictly speaking, folk singers. They were consummate entertainers who sang folk music, Mexican and other Latin American songs and played classical guitars. Travis' love of Mexican traditional music, especially the beautiful "Bolero" form, was responsible for its introduction to wider audiences in the U.S. for the first time.
In the late 1950's and early 1960's, they were one of the hotter acts in show business, appearing widely on television and in clubs across the country. Travis also had been one of the "Gateway Singers" in the late 1950's and had a long career as a solo artist. He always had time to share a song, a story or guitar tips with fans. If you have the chance, there are some YouTube examples of his work. His CD's are available on line. If you aren't familiar with Travis, take a listen some time.
He was beloved in his home state of Arizona and will be missed by many of us who were privileged to see and hear him.
Username: Art Thieme
Thanks TJ. I did get to see the two of them----back around 1959 I think---at Chicago's folk club/bar called The Gate Of Horn.
They were quite good doing their own created musical niche.
Rest in peace.
Another good one gone too soon. RIP, Travis.
Username: Little Robyn
Sorry to hear that.
Now is the time to sing his song:
I'm finally leavin'
One last word I don't wanna holler down the hall
Everybody leaves something when he goes away
When I'm gone here's what I hope will stay....
Username: John on the Sunset Coast
I think I'll listen to my B & T collection today as I go about my chores. They were my most favorite singing duo. And they put on one hell of a good show.
Not unexpected, owing to the news of the last few weeks, but sad none-the-less.
I did enjoy Bud and Travis and have one of their lps which I will need to dig out since I have my turntable hooked up again. They could also always get me to TV set whenever they were on. Travis did leave some wonderful music with which we can remember him.
Username: Art Thieme
Today I got this email from my old friend, Mike Sideman, in San Diego. (Mike is the retired lawyer I've mentioned in other threads talking about the time he and I did a Woody-like, Kerouacian cross-country trip in 1962; it included going to Mexico City by bus from El Paso/Juarez.
Art----I took two anthropology courses taught by Travis's brother, Munro, at Tulane.He was one of the most amazing intellects that I have ever encountered in my life. I was proud to get an A from him both semesters. Munro was fluent in Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and a bunch of other languages. He would often talk of his youth; he and Travis grew up on the Mexican border in Arizona and they were influenced greatly by the cultural interplay. Munro became an anthropologist and Travis a musician as a result of this experience.
I figured some might like to know read old recollection...
This is sad. The end of an era. Bud and Travis were favorites of mine way back in the early 60s. Everything they did was just so precise. A level of artistry matched by few of their contemporaries
Last time I talked to Trav he said something about "burning a bean, together". Not sure what that was but it may have been about coffee (?)
Also, they were folk singers in a way because they introduced many songs to audiences that would not have heard them otherwise. They were folk singers in that they knew a lot about the material they sang having researched it pretty carefully and did their homework.
Does this make them folksingers? I think so because they sang folk songs. They got flack from Alan Lomax because of the way they presented them.
Is Pete Seeger a folk singer? Is Joan Baez a folk singer? TJ, not sure we are on the same page here.
Many of the UK performers are coming to folk material second-hand but they attempt to do it in a "traditional" manner. Are they folk singers?
Trav will be missed because he was an empathic musician, knowledgeable and entertaining, informative and knew the music he played from the inside out.
Pancho (aka Frank)
Username: Mary Katherine
Travis Edmonson's son Steve posted this note to another public forum:
”Date: Tues, May 12 2009 6:46 pm
”I want to thank everyone who has sent me their condolences on the passing of my father, Travis Edmonson. Travis was quite an amazing man. His passing was not unexpected, as he had been quite ill for some time. While I was in Memphis for the BMA Awards, I was in constant contact with the hospital. When I arrived in San Francisco, I called his wife at the hospital and was told that he was expected to pass very soon. I had her hold the phone to his ear, and even though he was in a non-responsive state, I talked to him for a while, saying my good-byes. I received a call less than an hour later
with the news that he had passed.
Travis' musical virtuosity has been well documented. His rendition of
"Malagueña Salerosa" in particular, never failed to raise the hair on my neck. His knowledge of Latin American music (particularly the traditional Spanish language "Folk" songs from around the world, and music of the "Epocha de Oro," of the 1930's and early 1940's in México) was unequaled. His music was very popular in México and Latin America, and he continues to have many fans on both sides of the Río Grande to this day.
Travis, and my mother, Jo Ann Bryant (who managed the famous Hungry i
nightclub,) were in San Francisco for the whole "Beat" thing, and were
always involved in "left-of-center" politics. Travis wrote the anti-war song, "If I Were Free," for Peter, Paul & Mary, as well as many other songs that were recorded by groups like The Kingston Trio.
I have included a link to the L.A. Times Obituary, as well as links to a couple of his fan-sites for those of you who want to learn more about him. It would be impossible to encapsulate his amazing life in such a small space, but the information in the obit is fairly accurate. There are so many stories from his past, but many are not exactly G-rated. There was the wild side of Travis, so there are many stories that I can't share. One involves Suzanne Pleshette and a bathtub full of Dom Perignon. You get the idea. There was the ethno-musicologist side of Travis. He spent a good deal of his life researching and performing Folk and traditional music from Europe and the U.S. as well as from Latin America. As Erik Darling of The
Weavers said of Travis and his musical partner, Bud Dashiell, "Bud and
Travis were the best. No one of their ilk could even touch them. When they got on stage and did their thing, there was nothing like it. Wonderful!"
Bob Shane, founding member of the Kingston Trio, was in college when he first saw Travis perform in San Francisco. He has often said that Travis is his musical idol.
His interest in history wasn't confined to music. Travis accompanied his brother Colin traveling the mountains of México, living with and studying theYaquí Indians in the 1940's, which eventually led to the publishing of the first Yaquí-English dictionary. This all took place decades before the Carlos Casteneda books. Travis is still a "fariseo," or acolyte in the Yaquí religion, and the tribe has honored him many times in the past. By the time Travis came along, many of the musical compositions of early African-American musicians had already been listed as PD (public domain), and Travis fought hard to get royalties paid to the heirs of famous Americans like Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly.)
I have spent most of my life as a Blues musician, and I'm sure that this stems from my early exposure through Travis to Blues musicians who had crossed-over to the coffee-house circuit of the late 50's/early 60's. I can remember traveling with them and having many of them (like Josh White, Lightnin' Hopkins and Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee) perform in my living room. Travis had friends in just about every genre of music. Through Travis, I met many Jazz musicians, from Roland Kirk to Jon Hendriks; Latin musicians, like the famous Latin composer, Lalo Guerrero, The Clancy Brothers (from Ireland,) and many more!
There will be a public memorial for Travis in Tucson soon, and I will post that information when the details are ironed out. Again, thanks to all of you for your kind notes of condolence.