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Let's All Room Together Next Semester CD

The Travis Edmonson Collection #19


With a seemingly infinite vocal range, He could take an audience's breath away one moment, but the next, have them rolling on the floor in mirth.  Travis Edmonson remains one of the most intensely loved artists in folk music, not least for that captivating personality, one  which assured all - both on stage and off - that he was ever at one with them.

An early singer-song writer, he always proffered a widely variegated repertoire, and has secured his place in musical history not just for all the above, but particularly for being one of the first and most influential to bring a rich trove of  music from Mexico to U.S. audiences.

But foremost, there was that wonderful voice. - operatic in its breadth and capacities, with all the drama of presentation that implies.  Folk audiences, seldom treated to more than pleasant singing voices, never failed to be overwhelmed by the incredible number of octaves Travis Edmonson's spanned.  The pathos he could put into a song might be haunting or hypnotizing, and so often conveyed uncommon emotion - be it jubilation, tenderness, loss or the more subtle colors of thoughtfulness.

Juxtaposed against the touching feelings  was a flair for whimsy which added further dimension to his act. Travis Edmonson's brand of platform comedy was a continuous romp full of improvisations and  seemingly harmless, but pungent one-liners.  Never padding, the humor was an integral part of the performance, sometimes even woven into the songs (such as the classic “Sloop John B.”

Irrepressible, bright, charming and even at times, anthropomorphic (“let's all room together next semester!”), he was the essence of wit,  his humor having the uncanny mixture of spontaneity and longevity (e.g. the aforementioned song still eliciting smiles after decades of playing the live concert recording).  Pulling it all together was a perfect sense of timing, the ability which makes or breaks a comedian, regardless of the quality of their jokes.

But with all the madcap antics, intelligent silliness and brittle humor, what audiences picked up loudest and clearest was the warmth, sincerity and pure affection he felt for them.  And if they thought they were only imagining it, those who went back stage discovered that he would not only speak personally to each and every one of them at length, but might also offer a guitar lesson in the bargain.  Precious few entertainers would take the time with fans that he did, and the result began as appreciation, and  usually tended to mellow into lasting devotion.

Those who availed of such opportunities encountered not just a courteous and interested human being, but someone who remained a figure of inspiration for the rest of their lives. No hyperbole. That is a story told more than a thousand fold!  Perhaps a byproduct of his lifelong interest in anthropology, that understanding for people was not merely a personal attribute, but one which enabled him to constantly relate back and forth with those whom he entertained.

Content and programming were also a key to his individuality, and his own compositions (“Cloudy Summer Afternoon,” “If I Were Free,” “Guess I'll Go Home,” “I'm A Drifter,” “The Web”) contributed to that quality. The eclectic mixture of old and new songs from near and far was also consistently peppered with the music of Mexico and other Latin countries.  His “Malaguena Salerosa” bears legendary stature, but it is only the crown jewel in a tiara of melodies which he imported for the listening pleasure of Americans, such beautiful songs as “Sin Ti,” “Rayito De Luna,” “Caminante Del Mayab ,” “No Me Quieras Tanto,” Cielito Lindo Son Juasteco,” “Sabras Que Te Quiero”,  “Vamos Al Baile” and “La Vaquilla Colorada” among so many favorites.

The source of these was his Arizona background which saw him growing up along the Mexican border before breaking into show business as a solo act at San Francisco's Purple Onion.

Following his two-year stint with The Gateway Singers, the duo of Bud & Travis was born in 1958, one which allowed for total venting of the comedy ideas and  full-bodied arrangements he produced.  From night club to concert hall to after-hours coffee house among friends, the pair inevitably created the kind of excitement which made them unforgettable.  The caloric value of even a casual performance could feed an army for a week.  Their live Liberty albums give only a hint of just how electrifying these were.

One of the remarkable distinctions of their time together was the honor of a unique appearance before a joint session of the Houses of Congress to sing Travis Edmonson's thought-provoking song of conscience “The Time of Man.”  Among thousands of gigs, it had to be the ultimate.

However, preferring the pace and scaled-down commitment of a solo career, at the height of his celebrity, Travis Edmonson returned to his native state  in the late sixties, making it his base for another decade and a half (which in addition to folk music also included creating a musical score for an exhibition of paintings by his good friend , noted artist Ted De Grazia).

Though a paralyzing stroke (resulting from an aneurysm) in 1982 made subsequent performing impossible, music has continued to be a focal point in his life - writing, arranging and coaching, among other activities . Despite over two decades out of the limelight, fans talk about Travis Edmonson's shows with a passion as if they occurred only yesterday, his LPs winning top prizes within record collections for most worn-out grooves.

Having so successfully developed an impressive  style all his own, that kind of reaction was inevitable. A poet and painter from his early teens, the key word for everything he touched or created was artistic sensitivity.   It was surely the wellspring for his own appreciation and selection of material, as well as the foundation of the gift to move audiences so profoundly with his voice.

This Diamond Jubilee Anthology is a sampling of two tracks from each of the eight albums Travis Edmonson did with Bud Dashiell as well as from the solo LPs Travis on His Own and Travis on Cue, exclusive of the Spanish-language repertoire.  Also included are two songs with The Gateway Singers from 1958.

Taking its title from the triumphant conclusion of Sloop John B at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium concert on March 24, 1960, this Diamond Jubilee Anthology opens with “Everybody Loves Saturday Night,” and offers three additional highlights from the performance, “Raspberries, Strawberries, “Travis Edmonson's own bittersweet and tender “The Clock” and one of the most beautiful versions of “All My Sorrows” ever recorded.

The Bud & Travis live album at The Cellar Door is represented by “South Coast” and “Gimme Some” from the Broadway show Golden Boy. The jocular mood is maintained with the Caribbean “It's the Man” from B&T Naturally, but goes pensive with their innovative treatment of the traditional song “Down in the Valley,” making it definitely a “folk song for the present” as the subtitle of the LP suggests.

From their “debut” album Bud and Travis come two of their most romantic performances on record. Travis Edmonson's own composition (a chart hit for The Fleetwoods) “Truly Do,” was written when he was in his teens, but has the sense of one looking back from a later time in life.  A glimmer of the precocious sensitivity referred to above.

“She Never Loved Me” or “Chocoun,,” but more familiar as the melody of “Yellow Bird” is lush in mood and texture, and displayed to the listening public from the start that these new purveyors of folk music were raising the ante to a plain well beyond “Oh Susanna” and “Old Folks at Home.”  It wasn't just about singing along, but having your breath taken away.

Those who only know “Cloudy Summer Afternoon” from the Santa Monica concert will be interested to hear the version which was a hit for Bud & Travis from the Spotlight album.  Here's also a chance to hear the song everyone was calling for at the end of that show, the vibrant “Sinner Man.”

The Travis Edmonson adaptation of “Oh Miss Mary” turns a simple tune into something dynamic and irresistible under the title “A Long Time Back.”  Also from the Perspective  album is the gentle “Abilene” a number which is exquisite in its simplicity.

From the live solo show at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, Travis Edmonson further demonstrates his ease and capability with the genre in “East Virginia Blues. ”Complementing it is his original “High Hill Country,”the second tune from Travis on Cue,  offering another perspective on the longing of a country boy to win the heart of an unreachable miss.  

 From the guileless to the jaded, the mood turns 180 degrees to the Travis Edmonson classic “I'm a Drifter,” inspired by his encounter early in life with the genuine drifter Jefferson Davis, and in this song Travis so perfectly conveys all the knowledge, disappointment and resignation of a lifestyle which is both at the center of things and at the fringes all at the same time.

The companion piece from the album commissioned by Frank Sinatra, Travis on His Own, is “The Web.” When he first started his own label, Sinatra's mission statement was to elevate the level of what was put out on vinyl, and Travis Edmonson was one of his first signings, this song being released as one of Reprise's earliest singles.

A compilation like this wouldn't be complete without a little taste of Travis Edmonson in the period just before B&T was formed.  From the albums he did with The Gateway Singers are offered “Poor Boy” and the Travis original “Rollin Home.” Sublime!


Issued to celebrate Travis Edmonson's 75th birthday, the CD offers a cross section of his English-language recorded performances not on any other compilation album.



Let's All Room Together Next Semester CD


1/2 from Bud & Travis in Concert:
   Everybody Loves Saturday Night
   Raspberries, Strawberries
3/4 from In Concert Volume 2:
   The Clock
   All My Sorrows
5/6 from Bud & Travis in Person
   South Coast
   Gimme Some
7/8 from Naturally:
   It's The Man
   Down in the Valley
9/10 from Bud and Travis debut album:
   Truly Do
    She Never Loved Me
11/12 from Spotlight on Bud & Travis:
   Cloudy Summer Afternoon
   Sinner Man
13/14 from Perspective on Bud & Travis:
   Long Time Back
15/16 from Travis on Cue:
   East Virginia Blues
   High Hill Country
17/18 from Travis on His Own
   I'm A Drifter
   The Web
19 from The Gateway Singers att the hungry i:
   Poor Boy
20 from The Gateway Singers in Hi Fi:
   Rollin' Home

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