aka "A Night at the Ashgrove"
World Pacific WP 1254
The Ash Grove opened its doors at 8162 Melrose (phone OL 3 7'892 for reservations) in Los Angeles on July 11, 1958, amid simultaneous confusion, construction, consternation, and conditions of distress, dysfunction, and dismay. Edwin Pearl, owner-operator, had leaped headfirst into his first venture as a coffee house-theater manager, bolstered by two Flamenco concerts he'd sponsored and a boundless enthusiasm for folk music generally, with a wide-eyed view of blasé Los Angeles' ability to support an organization designed to present local and imported folk talent. (At the time, it seemed you couldn't pitch a brick through the air without having it fly through the window of a flat-black-painted coffeehouse; additionally, the jazz clubs, the chief outlet for a music-oriented audience willing to leave home and pay for their entertainment, were folding left and right.)
In any case, on Friday night the Grove opened its newly- painted (still wet) doors, and although the kitchen was in no shape to serve food yet, and no contacts had been made with local suppliers to even manage cold cuts or pastries, and the free opening-night coffee had to be specially imported - Mirabile Dictu - the thing seemed to catch on. In due time - a matter of weeks - the expresso/espresso machine arrived, unwieldy, noisy, a massive chromoid monster, a hobbyist plumber's delight; by then the problems of a kitchen ceiling, which also acted as office floor
had been almost solved, and there was practically room for the performers to get ready to go on, although there was still the nightly (often set-ly )suspense as to whether the jury-rigged sound system would actually work again.
A half-year later the whole business seems awfully secure, although the Ash Grove always has about it the somehow comfortable aura of any-second-now-somebody's-going-to-drop-a-match-into-the-firecracker-barrel excitement. The front room, comparatively calm and sedate, is divided into a series of neatly partitioned galleries, where groups of young Los Angeles artists, half unknown, half having already achieved a great deal of international attention, are represented by a constantly-changing flow of paintings and pieces of sculpture; with a small section of tables and couches, screened for argument, chess, impromptu singing, rabblerousing, and general conviviality.
The back room, set up finally as an efficiently-operating concert hall, with smoothly-run table service, involving a crew of charming, talented, semi-professional waitresses, boasts an excellent sound system, which makes good use of the room's excellent acoustics. One would hardly be willing to believe that some twenty-seven weeks before an overstuffed-chair furniture company had been in full operation within the same walls. The lighting and stage facilities are superb, in a non-full-fledged-theatre way, with a full sound and light control center, with facilities for announcements, set up in the upstairs business office, which adjoins the performers' rooms.
Surrounded by its rather garish orange outside wall, screaming its message onto Melrose Avenue, the Ash Grove stands as some sort of memorial to blind faith's paying off on rare occasion. Perhaps the music on this album will serve to indicate one of the reasons why.
BUD DASHIELL and TRAVIS EDMONSON first got together at the University of Arizona, with a mutual admiration for the culture and music around them. Travis, who spent a period in residence with San Francisco's Gateway Singers, joined Bud for local Los Angeles appearances, and by the time the pair had reached the Ash Grove they had developed a smooth, excitingly paced musical framework for their appearances. The French LE CHANSON DE LA FRAMBOISE and LA BAMBA, from Mexico, the two duet numbers, illustrate the boys' command of interlingual dexterity, as well as their instrumental and vocal skills. Bud's solo, JOHNNY I HARDLY KNEW YOU, an Irish song from the time of the "troubles," grew from the same Irish folk root that produced the American "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."
BARBARA DANE'S full-voiced belting of the old blues is somewhat confusing in terms of her gentle offstage self. Having developed a reputation for fine singing in her two home towns, Detroit and San Francisco, Barbara has now settled herself and family in Los Angeles, where she works in the multiple frameworks of blues, folk music, and jazz. DON'T SING LOVE SONGS, YOU'LL WAKE MY MOTHER was learned from a Southern next-door neighbor, whose mother had sung it to her as a girl. AWAY! AWAY! WITH RUM, BY GUM! is self-identificatory. Jimmy Yancey's HOW LONG BLUES indicates the depths of Barbara's roots.
ROLF CAHN, also most recently from San Francisco, has gained a reputation both as a folksinger-collector and as a guitarist of awesome proportions. Rolf, at the time of the recording, was appearing at the Grove on one leg of a concert tour which will take him across the United States, headed for Spain. YARROW is one of the old Scottish Border Ballads. THE SHIP TITANIC draws on the rich tradition of Negro folk music in America; Rolf is joined instrumentally here by young San Francisco guitarist Carl Granich and itinerant folk philosopher Carl Sandbag ***** on bass. The SEGUIRIYAS is a beautifully-played example of Rolf's command of the Spanish Flamenco musical language.
Brooklyn-born LYNN GOLD, whose performances in Los Angeles coffeehouses and on FM and television have made her a local favorite, sings with warmth and feeling in many languages. Her QUIET LAND OF ERIN, a beautiful lament sung by Ireland's banished rebels, "The Wild Geese," includes portions in Gaelic. ORCHA BAMIDBAR, a song of the desert, is sung in Hebrew, while TINAFTO, the oldest song on the album, is sung partially in Greek. Lynn is accompanied vocally and instrumentally on ORCHA BAMIDBAR by Los Angeles and Israel folksinger Sol Gold, and on QUIET LAND and TINAFTO by Mr. Sandbag.
An Ed Michel Production
Cover design by Ted Poyser (top image)
Photographs by Philip Melnick
Better known to Bud & Travis fans as the licorice pizza with sesame seeds on one side, produced on The Old Lump Label.
This performance at the Ash Grove in Los Angeles (but not before an audience) was recorded in early 1959, and while other artists (Barbara Dane, Lynn Gold, Rolf Cahn, Carl Granich) and Carl Sandbag *** lend their talents, Bud & Travis get the headliner billing. And this is their first album together.
Of their three songs, two offer fairly familiar renditions, but the La Chanson de la Framboise is rather different, using another version of the 'controversial' lyrics.
As visitors will see below, there were two different album covers for the LP, the first with “a beatnick girl,” as producer Ed Michel describes her, in the foreground, and a coffee house scene behind her. The Ash Grove? No! According to Mark Shoemaker of the Hermosa Beach Historical Society (www.hermosabeachhistoricalsociety.org), the photo was actually taken at the Insomniac in Hermosa Beach. Bob Hare, founder of that coffee house (where Bud & Travis also played), sued the record label (mainly for publicity) and made front page of Variety for the misrepresentation of them using a foto of the Insomniac, instead of the Ash Grove. And thus, the orange scribble cover was born. The story, verified by southern California historians Brian Chidester and Domenic Priore during an appearance at the Hermosa Beach Historical Society Museum, is just part of the great Ash Grove history being celebrated by UCLA in April 2008 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the club's opening
*** Carl Sandbag was the name used for the album by the record's producer and engineer, Ed Michel, his very first production in a long an outstanding career.
Away! Away! With Rum, by Gum
** La Bamba
**Johnny, I Hardly Knew You
Don't Sing Love Songs, You'll Wake My Mother
The Ship Titanic
** Raspberries, Strawberries
The Quiet Land of Erin
How Long Blues
** songs by Bud & Travis
denotes Travis Edmonson arrangements
GREAT GIFT IDEAS
from other Travis fans
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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
For More of the best in 1960s entertainment, Click the logo above to check out the ultimate illustrated guide to "I Spy" with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby at www.l23.org
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!
Have a ton of fun at the Julie & Brownie website