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Travis Edmonson Celebrates His 74th Birthday

Frank Ross of Arizona's popular Street Minstrels , who is also Travis Edmonson's most recent singing partner, shares with fans and friends who weren't able to be there, a taste of the 74th birthday party he attended with family and friends of the great artist. (Frank has contributed two other outstanding contributions to this website.  See links to those below.)

Birthday Bash in Tucson (September 23 , 2006)

by Franklin Ross

   On September 23 , 1932 , in Long Beach , California -a boy was born and was named Travis Edmonson. He, along with his partner Bud Dashiell, would later have a profound influence on American folk music  by performing beautiful American songs and -especially- by exposing us in the United States to the beauty and charm of Mexican and Latin music. Their approach was simple and honest : two voices , two guitars = exquisite musical treasures from South of the border. They , of course , also had great chemistry and an amazing ability to improvise one-liners that kept their audiences in stitches.

It was a gorgeous , quiet night - the weather was perfect in Tucson , Arizona . At 6:00 PM, people began to gather at the back patio of the Cushing Street Bar where tables had been reserved for Travis, our Very Special Guest  and about 25 friends and family members who had come to honor him on his 74th birthday. Dinner and drinks were ordered and we were all treated to the lovely sounds of "Saravá!", a bossa nova quintet led by the plaintive voice of Carol Evans who, as a little girl had spent 10 years in Brazil . Both her English and Portuguese were impeccable . Her singing was reminiscent of  Astrud Gilberto who brought us the original "Girl from Ipanema" . Joining Carol were Bill Ronstadt on bass and vocals ; Richard Sullivan a dynamite flautist , plus Billy Martinez and Cliff Berrion on percussion . My mother was Brazilian , and I grew up listening and playing bossa , hearing this music was like being in heaven .

 Travis Edmonson & Frank Ross
Travis enjoys Frank singing Corcovado

Bill McCune , producer of last year's Tribute  to Travis at Travis' house, shot video of some of the important moments of the evening. Last year's  tribute was the first in a series of shoots being prepared for the Travis documentary. Bill and Jo Zorn came , and currently Bill has a great gig playing with the legendary Kingston Trio. Gerry Glombecki came to celebrate with Travis ; back in the early 70's , Gerry and Travis co-authored some great songs. Tim Wiedenkeller also came ,and it should be noted that Tim invited Travis to share a spot on his new CD coming out soon . A time was set aside to read aloud  internet and personal messages that came from all over the country . Among the gifts given to Travis were a beautiful wool "throw" that Chantal sent all the way from Ireland (Travis so appreciated that, and used it later in the evening)  ; Dolan Ellis , our State Balladeer ,came bearing gifts from Mexico ; Bert and Ann Williams gave him a framed photo of  Travis surrounded by Bob Shane , John Stewart and Nick Reynolds (of the Kingston Trio ) . Toasts were offered by a number of folks , including Travis' old friend, Mike Bartlett. Linda Bartlett was also present . I am usually not comfortable speaking in public, but could not let this occasion go by  without expressing once again how much Travis' music has meant to me through the years , and how honored I feel to call him my friend . As usual , Rose Marie made us all feel welcome .

 A rousing chorus of Happy Birthday was sung , and with all those singers present , it was easy to hear that four-part harmony . Tristan , Travis' grandson who looks so much like Travis , helped him blow out the candles .   Others in attendance were Travis' daughters : Ellen Murphy , and Erin Kissel ; Rose Marie's daughter , Carolyn ; Oscar Cisneros ,who was really enjoying the margaritas ( I mean really.) .Jamie Eryich - longtime friend of Travis - and her husband Hank along with Bill and Linda Bartlett were present, and it is noteworthy to mention that they also had attended Travis' 50th birthday !!; Dr Sandee Mattson  and  Sharon Heikkinen   also came to celebrate with Travis. Ron Iverson brought his bright grandson , Connor - he's a charmer and a delight to be around .

Travis Edmonson & Frank Ross
Travis Edmonson and Frank Ross with one of the birthday presents

After Saravá! finished their last set, yours truly took out his guitar  , pulled up a chair next to Travis and began by singing a bossanova tune called "Corcovado". After that ,some old songs . The guitar was passed around and Bill Rondstadt shared beautiful renditions of "Historia de un Amor" and "Usted" plus a great instrumental solo .Travis and I sang  a few from his old repertoire such as ; "La Vaquilla Colorada"and "Cloudy Summer Afternoon". I was able to persuade Bill Zorn to share a great blues song which Travis was delighted to hear . Ron Iverson also played. We sang one of my favorite songs by the Kingston trio called "The Seine" (Ron knew all the words by heart !!). For me personally , the highlight of the evening was seeing Travis' eyes light up as he joined me in singing an old Mexican song called "Canción Mixteca" , about a deep longing to be back in Mexico . The evening closed with Travis singing "Scotch and Soda", which was great .

Kudos must be given to Cushing Street Bar for their professional , caring way throughout the evening and their generousity . And probably none of us would have enjoyed this party in Tucson at Cushing St. Bar had it not been for Bonnie Brock and her hard work to coordinate all the details so that all us lucky attendees had nothing to do but come and ENJOY the evening !!!

Happy Birthday Travis , and many, many more !!!!

Frank Ross
September 2006

First taping session for the Bill McCune documentary about Travis Edmonson



Frank Ross & Travis Edmonson
Frank Ross and Travis sing Cloudy Summer Afternoon

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