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Travis Edmonson's 75th Birthday Party

A gala celebration of Travis Edmonson's 75th birthday was hosted by and held in the Glendale, Arizona home of dear friend Bonnie Brock (, and Bonnie leads off with her description of the event.

From Bonnie:

It was my PLEASURE to host Travis Edmonson's 75th birthday celebration at my home.

The house had been rented and terribly abused for a couple of years. I've rushed through the PHYSICAL renovation over the past 10 weeks.

On Sunday, September 23rd, the SPIRITUAL renovation took place with Travis holding court and his many friends and fans paying respect. I think this was the "house blessing" of all time.

One musician after another performed for Travis. Most performers did two songs, and nobody did more than three. Applause after each song was thunderous, and deservedly so, because everyone did a fantastic job.

Travis did his part too. Now that I think of it, it must be extremely tiring to have so much attention focused on oneself for so long a period otf ime.

Musicians expressed their appreciation for Travis-for the excellent standard he had established and for the support he has given to them. They sang songs Travis had written. They sang songs from Travis' recordings and concerts. They sang other songs that related in some way to Travis.

It was truly Travis Edmonson Day.

Three of the biggest groups of the Folk Era were well represented. Dolan Ellis, an original member of the New Christy Minstrels (and also Arizona's Official State Balladeer), sang two songs in one session and then was persuaded to come back and sing “Malagueña Salerosa .” Dolan also read a message from Randy Sparks, founder of the New Christy Minstrels, one of the many groups inspired by Travis.

Bob Shane, founding member of the Kingston Trio, stopped by early in the day with a special gift for his old friend. He graciously posed with Travis, Travis and Frank Sanchez (percussionist for Bud & Travis, Travis Edmonson, and the Kingston Trio, among others), then Travis and Frank and Dolan. There must have been hundreds of photos taken, considering the number of cameras and the rapid-fire clicking (aren't digital cameras great?).

Bill Zorn arrived a little later. He is the only person to have been a member of the New Christy Minstrels, Kingston Trio, and the Limeliters - all of them for three years or more. He was with what was known as the New Kingston Trio (with Bob Shane and Roger Gambill) in the middle 1970s. Since 2004, he has been with the Trio once again.

Bill brought with him Paul Gabrielson, currently the bass player for the Trio and a fine jazz musician besides. Other current members of the Trio, George Grove and Rick Dougherty, sent their regrets for missing the party, along with their best wishes for Travis.

None of the current Limeliters could be present at the party because they had a concert in Arkansas. But they phoned in and sang two of their hits as a birthday greeting for Travis: “Meetin' Here Tonight” (and there certainly was a meeting in Glendale, Arizona) and “Generic Up-Tempo Folk Song.”

Allan Shaw, as owner of FolkEra Records, deserves additional recognition here. It is largely because of his efforts that we have been able to enjoy so much of the 1960s folk music on CD. Allan was a performer, singing a poem of Travis', “Born to the Sun,” which Allan recently put to music.

Bob Heffren was at the party too, observing and congratulating Travis but not participating as a musician. He is currently playing guitar for the Chad Mitchell Trio and also filled that role previously. Bob also accompanied John Denver for several years.

Two of Rose Marie's daughters and one of her sons were present, along with four grandchildren. Carolyn; Brenda (with her husband, Brad, their daughter, Morgan, and sons Mason and Maguire; and Joe with his son Andy.

Travis' daughters from Tucson were present. Ellen was the first-born and is always an especially important part of such a gathering because she contributes music. She and Bobby Benton, another musician from Tucson, sang the Mexican birthday song, Las Mananitas. It's beautiful, and so much more appropriate for a great musician such as Travis than the traditional “Happy
Birthday” song.

Ellen came back to the “stage” later to sing “Amazing Grace,” a cappella style. She invited everyone to join her, and even with all those great voices present, hers stood out.

Ellen's daughter, Tessa, and her husband, Ignacio, were also present, with their daughter Esperanza (nicknamed Anza and only 3) and their baby daughter Maya.

Erin is the youngest of Travis' children. With this lovely lady was her son named Tristan. He's about 5 years old, and looks a lot like a little Travis, especially when one looks at a photo of Travis as a little boy.

Travis' only son, Steve, flew in from San Francisco with his wife, Judy. They presented a wonderful set of blues music, with Steve playing guitar and Judy singing, and Travis joining in a bit on harmonica. They may have been the one exception to the statement I previously made about nobody playing more than 3 songs. They were the last to perform.

Everyone at the party contributed to making it a success. But I'd like to thank a few people especially: Rose Marie cooked tons of beef for burritos, and it was absolutely delicious. She also participated in much of the party planning. Marsha Richardson contributed much of the food, and secured a contribution of beer left over from the Trio Fantasy Camp (by the Bloodliners). Many others contributed financially, in the party preparations, or in keeping things moving smoothly.

I'd also like to thank Bill McCune. Always the producer (he's the one creating the Travis documentary), Bill took the role of emcee, and ensured that all musicians who wished to perform would have time to do so. The entertainment went smoothly, and Bill deserves most of the credit for that.
-- Bonnie Brock

Our time spent celebrating Travis' 75 Birthday from
 Art and Claudia Yow:
On the day before Bonnie's party for Travis, several  Bud and Travis fans got together for a jam session at a  nearby hotel.

Among those at the jam were Mike and Val Phimister;   a performing couple who by chance (through learned of the party and flew in from Seattle to  meet "the man" and to offer him royalties for their  inclusion of South Coast as part of their repertoire.

Their rendition of this B&T song was powerful and  creative. (They were hoping that Travis wouldn't be  offended by their interpretation of this B&T classic,  he wasn't.)

Art and Claudia Yow with Travis and Rose Marie , and Frank Sanchez at right

 At the big event on Sunday, September 23rd, Art and  his cousins, Dennis and Rodney opened with Tomorrow  is a Long Time and How Long Blues. Seated nearby,  Travis joined in the singing; cousins Shari and Patty were   moved by the sight and the obvious love we three  admirers had for Travis.

 Bill McCune did a fantastic job of introducing the acts  and his between-performance banter.

Many other performers took the stage in turn, among them  Dolan Ellis, Tim Wiedenkeller, Frank Ross and Bill Zorn.  Their musical offerings were both humorous and insightful.

  Art was glad he brought along some percussion instruments;  the cowbell and cabassa were great additions to some of the  Latin songs performed (Girl From Ipanema, y otras ...)

Art Yow, Travis, Patty Low-Diercks, Rodney Low  and Frank Sanchez

 Travis' son, Steve Edmonson, and daughter, Ellen Edmonson  Murphy, made surprise appearances to the event. We just loved the Latin songs which Ellen serenaded her dad. Bob Shane  dropped in to say hello and Bob Hefferman, Joe Bethancourt,   Frank Ross, Jon Messenger, Sue Harris, Frank Sanchez performed,   along with many others too numerous to list.

Time flew, and too soon, it was time for us to leave to catch  our flights home.

Thank you, Travis and Rose Marie, you have made a difference in more lives  than you will ever know. Spending time with you both, meeting your family  and friends was an event we will never forget.

 And a BIG thank-you to Bonnie Brock for her most  gracious and generous hospitality. She opened up her home  to make this all happen. Thank-you, Bonnie, from the  bottom of our hearts!
--  Art and Claudia Yow

Dennis Low added the following lines to describe his own delight in participating in the great event

Rodney Low and Dennis Low serenading Travis
with How Long Blues

The 75th was a lovely get together of lots of people who love Travis and the Bud & Travis music. We were so fortunate to open the music part of the party.  If we had played later, I would have been too cowed by all the professional talent there.  But Art Yow and I featured and accompanied Travis in singing "Tomorrow Is A Long Time," followed by my brother Rod and I singing and playing "How Long Blues" with Travis ...a memory of a life time, getting to sing with the man!”

-- Dennis Low



Travis Edmonson  at 75

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