As a complement to the Travis Edmonson interview, here are liner notes written by Bud Dashiell for two separate albums. The first passage is the liner notes an obscure B&T greatest hits album called Cloudy Summer Afternoon. Bud wrote them shortly after he was diagnosed with his brain tumor. Very special thanks to Tom Blumenthal for sending me xeroxes of the album sleeve.
Below the Cloudy Summer Afternoon notes are excerpts from the liner notes to I Think It's Gonna Rain Today, a Bud Dashiell solo album recorded long after the breakup of Bud and Travis. In those notes, Bud offers a glimpse into his mind and art as an entirely "solo" musician.
Liner Notes to the Album Cloudy Summer Afternoon
by Bud Dashiell
Bud and Travis got together initially because they had performed on a lot of FM radio shows done by a very knowledgeable, competent DJ by the name of Skip Weshner. Skip was aware that we knew a lot of songs together and we agreed to go and do the show. It was so easy to sing harmony and play two guitars and sing songs what we both knew. The phones kept ringing and people wanted to know where they could buy the album. Well, there wasn't any album, it was a live show.
Travis had already contemplated a career in music instead of anthropology which had been his first choice, I had not. I was going to be an illustrator attending an art center school (now in Pasadena, then in Hollywood).
It was the reaction that we got that made us make the decision to get together and try to do something in view of the fact that we both agreed on what we wanted to say. Bud and Travis, understand, never became a household word, but Bud and Travis was probably the first act to ever be extended for a month at the Blue Angel in New York. The Blue Angel didn't feature those kinds of acts until much later when the folk thing became a fad and universally accepted as an art form. Through a lot of advice about what to do and what not to do and what we should do if we wanted to be rich and so on, we stuck to our guns, never dropped the ball, continued to grow as musicians. A musical act has to do this or they will fade. Their audience will outgrow them.
We made our decision because the club engagements were always sold out to capacity, usually well in advance of an appearance. The concert halls, The Santa Monica Civic, the Laguna Bowl, the Hollywood Bowl, the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium all seat quite a few. The Tent House Theatre outside San Francisco, The Hungry I, the Troubadour, etc. etc., ad nauseum, you name the place, we played it. And sold it out. So I had reason to believe that what we were doing was effective. Even though it didn't make headlines. Bud and Travis never failed to accomplish their mission which was to entertain their audience and earn the money that we made.
When you examine the level of musical expertise necessary to play a thing like terrattle terbang, the tin maker man or some of those things, it becomes apparent that Bud and Travis were years before their time. Maybe too far before their time because occasionally we heard someone yelling in the audience "play a real folk song, play a real folk song." We weren't folk singers, although we did as much folk music as anybody else was doing at the time (folk music has never been satisfactorily defined; we're the only country in the world that makes that distinction). So, Bud and Travis were not accepted by the folk crowd, the jazz crowd, the rock crowd. We didn't do any of that because there were, Lord knows, enough other people doing that one. It wasn't really part of our statement anyway, even though at age thirteen I had been playing rhythm and blues (we called it boogie).
The only thing difficult about what we were doing was the fact that it was hard to get work--sometimes because people didn't want to follow us on. Their feeling being that we were funnier than they were and they didn't play guitar. Numerous comedians, when we were starting, would offer us the position of opening the show for them but we had to enter into the contract that we wouldn't talk. Talking was part of what we did, as it would be as part of a total identification. When a Bud and Travis audience walked out of a Bud and Travis concert they had one . . . been entertained, and two . . . been exposed to something they might not otherwise have ever heard, and they certainly felt they knew who we were, which could account for the word-of-mouth, underground kind of thing we created.
Since Bud and Travis stopped working together when their careers were certainly insured, and when they were positively on top of their craft, it caused a lot of people to wonder: What the hell ever happened to Bud and Travis? Why would two people ever walk out of it on top? And as usual endless rumors, all of them wrong, all of them too embarrassing even to utter. But we are a nation of sensationalists and that's just the way it is. Sensationalism will always win, will always get you space in the magazines, in the papers, in the media. You can walk in any room where people gather and say Van Gogh, and everybody will know he cut off his ear, but how many will be able to name one of his paintings or describe his style? The reason that Bud and Travis ceased was our business, no one else's.
Bud and Travis had no problem at all maintaining an audience. And I feel that the 20 albums lying around out there with our names on them, or Travis' name, or my name separately, had to be testimonial that somebody liked it. It was difficult at first to say goodbye to Bud and Travis, because it was a very carefully nurtured entity with a lot of thought, a lot of love, a lot of sweat, a lot of pain. After the cessation of Bud and Travis, Travis went back to his beloved desert where he will always live, to think, to write, to be with his wife, to sing, to make people happy, something he was always very good at. I stayed in Westwood where I teach guitar music, help young musicians acquire their knowledge, and learn their trade through a performance workshop. That's what Bud is still doing that's what Travis is still doing at last count. People had asked us why we didn't do a gig once in a while. We didn't because there was an image, a standard, to be maintained. A standard we established through a hell of a lot of really hard work and we didn't want to disappoint anybody by trying to get back together and do something feeble, in view of the fact that we didn't have seven to ten years to get to the level we were when we parted.
We really only geographically parted. The spirit of Bud and Travis was something that we both hung on to and still do because there was something fine about it. We're probably one of the most copied acts in the business (not probably, positively!) with the least success. There's obviously other people that felt the same way because our record company who had always backed us to the hilt decided it was time. The decision was made to release some more of what we did with a lot to choose from.
The choice wasn't easy to make but it's a fair represeantation, a cross section of material, although there's so many other things; obviously we couldn't get them all on one album, so we are presenting this for several reasons, these things are all live. (Ed.īs note: This is a mistake. There are some studio cuts on Cloudy Summer Afternoon.) It never took Bud and Travis longer than three 3-hour sessions to make an album. These tunes were all one time through, one time. No overdubbing, no sweetening, no anything. One time, that's it. The applause you hear is genuine. And it was left on the album, and I might add, edited substantially to make a point. Bud and Travis were loved.
There will always be those who attach folk to anything that isn't electric or doesn't make your nose bleed but that's a very innocent evaluation. We weren't folk singers--I'd be hard pressed to say that we were. Just musicians, artists with a purpose, an idea. There was us, extensions of ourselves, Bud and Travis. The reason the patter or the talk or the gags or whatever you want to call it between songs was not included is because live albums, we felt, tend to get a little tiresome once you know all the gags. It was the music we were selling primarily. Ourselves and our effectiveness as an act was what the patter was all about and that worked too.
There is an album called Bud and Travis live. (Ed.īs note: The album to which Bud is referring is actually called Bud and Travis In Person At The Cellar Door.) It was made in a nightclub in a major city in this country, on which you can see what the whole thing was about. (Ed.īs note: B&Tīs comedy can also be found on the records In Concert and In Concert, Part 2.) And incidentally the songs were selected from varying stages of our development, which is why some songs sound musically very immature, and some sound much more mature musically. Directionally more positive and some others sound very mature, very polished. You can hear the growth. I leave it to you to determine which one those were. But here is some more Bud and Travis.
P.S. People always marveled at the fact that Bud and Travis never had to look at each other when they sang. A lot of strange chemical things happened, like looking to opposite corners of the room and coming in together exactly on time. I think we used to sneeze together. Bud and Travis were born on the same day in the same year the same month, about the same time. Two years ago I had a seizure which was traced back to a brain tumor which has been corrected and cost me the use of my right hand which I have regained 80% use of. Three weeks to a month later Travis had about the same thing. It affected my right side, it affected Travis' left side. By way of identification on the record, Travis is the one with the clear rich choirboy voice, the other one, the one that sounds like an egg frying is me. Travis has black hair and black eyes, I have blond hair and blue eyes. Almost negatives of each other. I am still teaching in Westwood, Travis is still recovering in Tucson. And he will recover, make no mistake about that. And at that time maybe there'll be still more Bud and Travis. A Bud and Travis which is older, wiser, mellower and finally grown up.
Liner Notes to the Album I Think It's Gonna Rain Today
by Bud Dashiell
I started singing in Country music. Not folk, but COUNTRY. That only lasted until I got to the city, and in New York I met a bunch of nuts that played guitars around the village and thought I was the wildest thing since Max Bodenheim. We hung out in coffee houses that were created by the same interior decorator who did the Black Hole of Calcutta, and they interested me in folk music (not politics). As a result, I met Leadbelly, Josh White, Woody Guthrie, the McGee brothers, Sonny Terry, and all that gang. But I don't think I have even been a 'folk singer.' (By the standards set by whoever set them, I wonder if anyone has ever been one.)
Songs that involve me, that express my personal point-of-view are the ones I've always liked best. It was easier then. As one matures, it all becomes more complex. You have more to say about life when you've lived some of it. I find myself a part of a middle generation that doesn't really have a spokesperson. 'Ban The Bomb.' Sure, I am aware of the threat of war and of all our social complications and of all the establishment shortcomings. Do I have to make a career of it?
Who is speaking for the people who don't get glassy-eyed and snap their fingers and say 'yeeaahhh, baby' when one of the paisley crowd drops some obscure verbal hallucination? There are a large number of people who don't choke up over the messages offered by the Vegas-Catsskills-Miami Beach school of entertainment, either. So many noise-makers have been telling the American people to 'listen' that the American people really have started to listen, and now the noise-makers have nothing to tell them. There are a lot of non-compartmentalized people who like to listen, and I like to talk to them.
Right now, I'm an itinerant, a journeyman, a communicator, who wants to do things not because they are in vogue (I've been there) but because I am ready to talk of what I think, where I'm at, and how I feel a closeness to ideas like love, children, and my life.