Bud & Travis In The Press

B&T photo in old news articleThis section of the Bud & Travis website is dedicated to news articles published about Bud & Travis--mostly during their career but certainly not limited to that timeframe.

The trouble with doing periodical searches about Bud and Travis is that there isn't much there. Music "criticism" as we know it today is largely a product of the rock and roll era. When B&T were touring, performing, and recording between roughly 1958 and 1966, LPs and singles were rarely if ever "reviewed" as they are now. Concerts very ocassionally were summarized, but only seldom "reviewed" as we think of the term today. As for feature articles, well, they are just as rare, mostly because the world didn't seem to obsess on entertainment and celebrity nearly as much as it does today, for better or for worse.

What you generally find when searching for B&T are a whole lot of notices about their upcoming performances--eg, Bud and Travis will play such and such a venue at such and such a place at such and such a price, and the event is sponsored by so and so and such and such. In other words: just the facts, ma'am. If you are somewhat "lucky," a brief overview of the group and its ouvre is included. The problem is, these descriptions of the group seem to be taken from the same press material released by the band or its management in every article. At best, this information goes no deeper than anything you will already find on the B&T site, and at worst, it is flat-out inacurate (as many "official" performer bios and stories concocted by managers and record labels are).

For the record, information about concert dates and TV appearances is not without merit; in fact, someone with a whole lot of time, patience, and thoroughness could piece together a pretty good "public appearance" or touring history of the group based entirely on these notices. But for now, my focus, and the focus of this section of the B&T site, is on the rare and notable news articles which break the molds I described above--ie, articles that go beyond "Just the facts, ma'am," even if just briefly, so that we can glimpse our musical heroes as a living, breathing, active, entity, rather than some abstraction forever consigned to "history."

B&T In The Press. Please make a selection below. Select its heading again to collapse it and make another selection. 

The First Breakup

If my "in-depth" research into B&T has accomplished anything definitively, it is this: I have finally nailed down to a pretty narrow time window exactly when Bud & Travis broke up for the first time, and how long they were apart. Travis himself in his later years was cloudy on this one, but wonder no more, B&T fans!

So what are the official dates? December 1960 (maybe--and I repeat maybe January 1961, depending on whether the duo honored some previous commitments after already deciding to dissolve) until early September 1962. These are the dates, case closed, for once and for all! This means the duo remained apart approximately 20-22 months, give or take, at the very height of their critical and commercial success!

Frankly, this one surprised me. I thought the breakup ocurred about a year later (late 1961) and lasted a little bit longer than it actually did (into 1963). I had always been under the impression that B&T recorded the LP Naturally before this breakup (nope, it was the first post-break-up studio LP), and I was amazed to learn that the In Concert, Volume 2 LP was released during this hiatus (perhaps giving some the impression that the duo had never split at all!).

Here are the articles which solved the mystery!

First, Dorothy Kilgallen of the Oneota Star, in the December 10, 1960 edtition:

"THE HIGH-RANKING folk song act of Bud and Travis has split — no one knows why, although there have been reports of .managerial troubles. But just last month they were signed for the Bobby Darin NBC-TV special in January, which would have been a great break for them. Now it's up to producer Bud Yorkin to decide which one he wants. (My old question: Don't these people sign contracts for appearances, guaranteeing that they'll show up as promised regardless of hurt feelings or harsh words?) Anyway, Travis has switched to pop music and his wife is his new partner in his act at the St. Regis."


Interestingly, Killgallen wrote this short blurb just three days later, also in the Oneota Star (though her column appears to have been syndicated):

Bud and Travis are screaming denials to the report that they'd split up. They want it known that they are exuding togetherness at the St. Regis and intend to fulfill their agreement to appear on Ihe Bobby Darin TV show. {Fellows, the story came Irom NBC, on official stationery; why don't you straighten things out with the top brass? They're confused) . . .

Double wow!

But before we get too carried away with B&T's "togetherness," this quote from The Independent Star News in the January 29, 1961 edition, in a feature article about Pittsburgh's own Steeltown Two, lays all doubt to rest:

The Steeltown Two dissolves next month when they join Bud Dashiell, formerly of Bud and Travis fame, to become Bud and the Kinsmen. The new group will have Bud playing a requinto (small guitar)) and Carlos Gonzales on guitarrone (big guitar), besides the two regular-sized guitars of Bernie and Carson. The public can audition them when they open at the Ash Grove March 7.

Triple wow!
Bud & The Kinsmen photo in old news article
Therefore, whether B&T honored their January 1961 Bobby Darrin commitments may forever remain a mystery, but we do know that with lightning speed (less than two months, or less than one month if B&T appeared in January), Bud found a new group and was well on his way to making an album for Warner Brothers! For his part, Travis released Travis On His Own for Frank Sinatra's Reprise label and toured quite a bit, though the press outside Arizona seems to have been pretty blind and deaf to these goings on. For that matter, the phrase "Bud & Travis" largely disappears from newspapers and periodicals for the duration of the duo's sabbatical from one another, with the notable exception of the In Concert, Volume 2 release in early 1962 (more on that further below).

Bud clearly had the break-up on his mind, however, and was even talking about it publicly. Check out this TV listing from The Bridgeport (CT) Post on September 8, 1961:

From out West, Terrence O'Flaherty tries to find out why successful groups like the Kingston Trio break up. He interviews Bud Dashiell formerly of Bud and Travis.

Man oh man, would the B&T website love to get ahold of that footage!

In early 1962, Liberty released In Concert, Volume 2 and I can't help but suspect that this record played a big part in bringing our two prodigal folk minstrels together again later that same year.

From the February 11, 1962 edition of the Syracuse, NY Post Standard:

BUD AND TRAVIS IN CONCERT, V OLUME TWO, LIBERTY 3222. This set is Volume Two of a series recorded live at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium some time during 1961. Forty minutes of unrestrained folk singing by two very professional talents who apparently are making quite a following for themselves.

Aside from the incorrect performance date (the album is gleaned from B&T's March 24, 1960 performance at the Civic Auditorium), this notice is clearly written by someone who had no idea that B&T were not an active touring or recording entity at the time. One wonders if the people at Liberty Records might have been downplaying the break-up, as well, to bolster the album and perhaps invite a reconciliation.

Check out this similar notice in the March 4, 1962 edition of The Progress-Index:

BUD & TRAVIS IN CONCERT (At the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium). This is Volume 2 in a series of this great concert and represents the freshest approach your reviewer has heard to the realm of modern-day folklore interpretation. This concert was attended by aficionados of the current folk music craze—those who appreciate a blend of tasteful folk music from all over the world, played and sung with impeccable vocal harmony and fine guitar playing. They did not come by their great talents accidentally. Possessed of flexible linguistic versatility, gifted musical abilities, fine singing voices, love of the music, the soil and peoples of whom they sing, all coupled with a dogged application of endless hours of research and rehearsals have molded Bud and Travis into the finest duo of its kind.

I include this blurb mainly to illustrate what I am up against in doing bibliographic research into the career of Bud and Travis. Despite the reference to "this reviewer", note how this blurb is scarcely a "review" at all but rather a thinly re-worded re-print of the self-aggrandizing liner notes on the back of the record! Some "review"! I see this constantly!

Now, here is where the plot really thickens. From March 1961 to September 1961, one can find a lot of references to "Bud Dashiell and the Kinsmen" for in-person and television appearances; however, starting in October, Bud and his group disappear, and he remains mostly "missing" (at least as a performer, with one very curious exception I will detail below) until the very first notice I can find of the B&T reunion in September of 1962.

There could be many reasons for a "missing" Bud and the Kinsmen: for one, the newspaper search tool I am using has a very strong west coast representation and a very weak east coast one. Therefore, there is a fair to good chance that Bud packed up his band and travelled east for the last few months of 1961. However, I suspect that at least beginning in the new year 1962, Bud took a little personal hiatus, for the very best of reasons.

From Louella O. Parson's "Hollywood" column in the July 24, 191 edition of The Anderson Daily Bulletin:

Bud Dashiell, who was formerly part of the recording team of Bud and Travis, and his wife . . . will become parents in March (1962). Bud is now a part of a new vocal-instrumental group known as Bud Dashiell and the Kinsmen.

I have nothing definitive to back this, but I strongly suspect Bud took January through March of 1962 off to be with his wife as they had their first daughter. In any case, a notice of the birth appears in the March 1, 1962 edition of the Anderson:

Like Col. John Glenn, Bud Dashiell, Warner Brothers recording artist, is in orbit. His wife presented him with a seven pound nine ounce girl . . .

Congrats, Bud! And meanwhile, back at the "ranch" known as Liberty Records, In Concert, Volume 2 is released, largely because of the overwhelming demand for the first In Concert record. At this time, Bud must have been thinking about what a good thing he had going with Travis!

And here, the plot thickens again! Presumably, Bud ended his hiatus of sorts just weeks after his daughter's birth by playing what appears to be a one-off gig with the Kinsmen. Where? None other than in Travis Country: Arizona! Specifically, he and the Kinsmen played Arizona State College. Check out this blurb from the March 23, 1962 edition of the Arizona Daily Sun:

KINSMEN — Bud Dashiell and the Kinsmen, American Folk stagers, will present a concert in the Lumberjack Gym on the Arizona State College campus at 8:15 p. m. Wednesday, March 28. The program is open to the public. Tickets will be on sale in downtown Flagstaff and at the door the night of the performance. Admission will be $1 per person. The trio was formed when Bashiell, of Bud and Travis, Joined with Bernie Armstrong Jr., and C. Carson Parks to organize the group. They have recorded several albums and 45 rpm singles. "I Talk to the Trees" was one of their most popular recordings. According to Tom Dingman, ASC social chairman in charge of the concert, demonstration records of the trio have been provided to'the local radio stations to be played beginning Monday, March 19. Also records of the trio's music will be provided in both cafeterias beginning Monday, March 26.

Hmmm . . . by all available evidence, Bud Dashiell is out of public life for the last few months. Yet, almost two years to the day since his historic performance with Travis at the Santa Monica Civic, he appears in Travis' own backyard for a seemingly one-off show with his new group. Meanwhile, Travis is gigging in the area, and In Concert remains so popular that their old label, Liberty, has just released a sequel! Sure, much of this may be coincidence, but it sure seems like the atmosphere was ripe for a B&T reunion, am I right?

Sure enough, after this Arizona State College appearance, Bud again disappears from periodical searches. Whoosh! He's gone again! Travis pops up in Arizona-based publications, ever the local road warrior. But something is brewing, indeed.

And finally, the notice arrives. The very first reference I can find of their reconciliation appears in the September 11, 1962 edition of the Pasadena, CA Valley News. "Notes On Hollywood" columnist Mike Connolly announces:

Bud and Travis, the singers who broke up their act, have resumed.
B&T photo in old news article
Cryptic! But we'll take it, right? B&T was off and running again! (Somewhere, Skip Weshner dons sack cloth and ashes!) Their first public appearance in nearly two years would take place at Long Beach City College, and would be the duo's first ever Bay-area appearance. Here is the full blurb, in all its glory, from the September 30, 1962 edition of the Independent Press telegram:

Folk singers Bud and Travis, together again by popular demand, will open Long Beach City College's 1962- 63 "Evenings at Eight" season at 8 pm Friday In the college auditorium. A limited number of season books will be available at the box office. Noted equally as singers, instrumentalists and gifted ad-libbers. Bud Dashiell and Travis Edmondson have been cited for their special blend of "styling finesse, droll musical mischief, spontaneity and sound musicianship." Edmonson is a native son of Long Beach, but received most of his education in Arizona, where he studied anthropology and became an honorary member of the Yaqui Indian tribe. He got into the entertainment field as a result of special research of folk music for Library of Congress. After appearing at the Purple Onion and the hungry i in San Francisco, Edmondson toured with the Gateway Singers until he teamed up with Dashiell in 1958. The pair gained national fame during the next two-and-a-half.years and won such awards as Best Musical Duo, Most Popular and Most Played.

I will close this sub-section with one more blurb from The West Kansas Press May 8, 1963 edition. I found many other similar post-breakup blurbs using these quotes; this article happens to be most representative. Under the heading "Bud and Travis Back Together", both the "B" and the "T" parts of the duo give all-too-brief summaries of their breakup, and hint at their direction during their second incarnation:

Bud Dashiell and Travis Edmonson are back together, their comedy and songs undimmed by a two year schism. One of the original top acts in the current folk craze, Bud and Travis split in 1960 after recording four albums and pioneering folk music in clubs across the county. "We had different ideas on material and how to present it," Bud said. "We were a couple of tired guitar players," Travis added. Now reunited, the duo has dusted off its blend of comedy and music that won it warm praise from reviewers. They also offered some outspoken comments on to day's folk entertainment during a recent interview. "There is a greater mass ignorance about folk music now," Bud said. "It's hurt the field. Most of these groups play the best they can, but there is no effort to improve, to study music." "You've got the rock & roll element in folk music," Travis added. "The street performers in other countries can outplay ninetenths of the folk groups in America." Both Bud and Travis draw on a long background of music. Bud, 33, was born in Paris of a French mother — a music hall singer—and an American father. "There was always music in our home," he recalled. "My grandfather played first violin in the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra." Travis, 30, was raised in Nogales, Ariz., and began his entertainment career at the age of four in the old "Our Gang" movie comedy series. "I was the one with all the curls," he recalled.

So there you have it, the full saga of the Bud and Travis break-up, part one. Sadly, a "part two" awaited, but in the meantime, we had four more years of awesome music!

B&T Get Panned!

Goodness knows, Gentle Readers of the B&T pages are used to hearing me praise Bud and Travis effusively and perhaps a bit shamelessly over the years! I would also say that nearly everything I have read about the group in periodicals has been glowing. But to paraphrase our singing hero Travis, "Here's the story of one time" where that wasn't the case!

Like I said, it's amazing enough to find a review of a concert in those days that is actually, well, a review, and not a promotional blurb of some sort. And to find a review that was scathing, well . . . let's just say my jaw hit my desk when looking at this one!

The article appears in the August 6, 1963 edition of the Winnipeg (Canada) Free Press. It is written by a man named Christopher Dafoe. B&T appeared in Winnipeg on a bill featuring Odetta and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Here are the choice parts dedicated to Mssrs Dashiell and Edmonson:

Then it was time for a pair called Bud and Travis to shuffle on to what had again become an empty stage. They came and they stayed on and on, and on.

Bud and Travis, in their almost endless effusion of by-the way patter, remarked that they were used to singing to drunks in night clubs. The night club, I venture to suggest, is their natural habitat. Their brand of humor, I suspect, would be more welcome if it was allowed to pass into the brain via layers and layers of fuzzy alcohol. Viewed in a concert hall by a spectator who happens to be stone cold sober, Bud and Travis suggest nothing more than a pair of drunks dressed up in lamp shades and curtains who have wandered by mistake into a tea.

As singers they have all the tricks of the night-club trade at their finger tips. Almost every thing they sing is eyewash but they sing it with a certain dash, a certain polish. You could almost say they do it with mirrors.

I'm not vindictive. I can for give Bud and Travis for wha they did to the old song Delia's Gone. Their swooning emasculation of William Butler Yeats The Wandering of Old Angus however, left me with blood before my eyes. Yeats would have had them torn to shreds by the mobs of Dublin.

Ah, well, you can't win 'em all! And besides, how seriously can you take a hack who doesn't even know when to use the subjunctive tense, thinks "everything" and "fingertips" should be two words, and doesn't even know the correct name of the William Butler Yeats poem he allegedly holds so dear?

I am kidding (mostly). My skin isn't really that thin where B&T are concerned. In my opinion, Mr. Dafoe is not entirely incorrect about the comedy. Even I, perhaps B&T's biggest fan, sometimes think that they didn't quite know when to reign in the hijinx. On the balance, it doesn't bother me too terribly much, but I know others who all but can't listen to the In Concert LPs because of it. For my part, I treat the more self-indulgent instances of the comedy the same way I do an overlong guitar or (especially) drum solo in a rock performance. Ironically, many of the people I know who complain the loudest about B&T's patter are the same ones who can inexplicably sit through some of the most interminable musical wanking imaginable, offered up by a host of torturous "jam bands."

But to each his own, I guess!

A Positive Review

Just to balance the scales, here is a (mostly!) positive review of a Bud &Travis concert which took place shortly after their reconciliation. In the April 22, 1963 edition of Pasadena Star News, Bill Yaryan gives a rare (at that time) concert "review" by actually detailing events from the evening and listing actual songs from the set. Apparently, both "Wars of Germany" and "The Time Of Man" were performed solo by Bud and Travis, respectively, indicating that both of them may still have had one foot each in their solo careers. I sure would love to have the tape of this show, given that those two songs were never known to have been recorded by the duo in their time together, either live or in the studio.

In any case, note that Yaryan still demerits B&T slightly on the basis of--you guessed it--their comedy patter! So, comedy haters, take heart! You are not alone! Also, there are strange cautionary passages near the end of the article (namely, the last three paragraphs) which I find a bit pained grammatically and substantively. This is especially true of the third-to-last paragraph. I have three English degrees, and I can't make heads or tails of what this guy is trying to say about B&T's quotes from stage, or how it relates to their differing talents and personalities.

As an aside, I am amazed sometimes at just how sloppy these old articles are in terms of grammar, punctuation, and syntax. I spent my whole childhood and young adulthood being told that people my age were drooling illiterates raised on TV who could barely string together a coherent sentence, and even more, that our forefathers and foremothers really knew how to turn a phrase as they walked to school barefoot, uphill, through snow drifts. Well, I am really finding that to be a crock of cow manure! If you want to read some of the worst manglings of the English language on the planet, look no further than newspapers of the 50s and 60s--and to think, these people were the pros!

Anyway, here is the article:

Folk Music Duo Praised for Show at Auditorium

Vernacular Words of Wisdom: 'When you've-got It made, be cool. Don't mess with a good thing.' Singers Bud Dashiell and Travis Edmonsor had a good thing.and they messed with It. Two years ago, after rising to the heights of success in the popular folk music field, Bud and Travis called it quits.

Wise words make themselves heard, even In Show Bis, and the two singers, after nebulous success apart, reunited. Bud and Travis played the Pasadena Civic Auditorium Saturday night, and their performance illustrated that they've had their fill of experimentaion.

Patient Fans Wait

Bud summed up their limbo period abruptly by quipping: 'Guess you folks know Trav and I spent about two years doing other things." While 'other things" were going on, the duo's patient fans sustained themselves on a diet of old Bud and Travis Liberty record albums. A vocal sample of these hardy souls,. slightly rain soaked, cheered the singers' return in Pasadena. And why not? The new Bud ant Travis sounded identical to the old.

Bud and Travis were the first singers of folk-type songs to become nearly as popular as the phenomenal Kingston Trio. They were, and still are the most popular male folk duo. Their acceptance, primarily by teen-agers and college kids, is merited. Although Bud and Travis lack a variety of material and guitar stylings, their approach to folk song is unique and rememberable.

The duo's foremost claim to fame Is their rendition of contemporary and classic Mexican music. Their version of "La Bamba" is well known, wel liked and well copied by imitation groups. Equally well done Saturday, night was 'Amor de la Calle,' the sad tale of a streetwalker, and the uncommon version of "Cielito Lindo," which drew a "bravo" from one mesmerized member of the audience.

Lean to Calypso

In addition to south of the border songs, Bud and Travis lean to Calypso songs, perhaps because their stereotyped "slap-face" guitar technique is so suited to the rhythms. Their best Caribbean number done icre was 'Ah! Nora, War Is Over,' a song which won a Calypso contest in 1945 and which tells of interrupted love's opportunity to resume.

A major part of the style of Bud and Travis is their guitar work. Since their harmony is simple two-part, an unaccompanied song sung by them would undoubtably be dull. Slapping their strings in a driving beat, rarely varied, the duo's work is frequently exciting and rarely dull in uptempo numbers.

Another ma]or portion of.the group's trademark is their humor, seemingly spontaneous but, upon closer examination, actually nothing more than sick free association. Certainly they are funny, and their jokes count for much of their popularity, but too often the witty comments detract from a serious and moving song.

Comments Mar Songs

Both 'All My Trials' and 'Two Brothers' were dampened by ill-fitting introductions. On the other hand, Bud's 'The Wars of Germany' and Travis's meaningful composition "Time Of Man," were performed to a prepared audience. If Bud and Travis intend to be serious singers and not just entertainers, if they wish their songs to have meaning, then they quite often fail. Bud bragged about his, "whole harvest of sickness" and Travis spoke of his "treasure trove of trivia." Travis also has creative talent and Bud has a winning soft sandpaper voice. It Is too bad their possessions are wont to clash.

It was a full concert that Bud and Travis presented here and the audience got their money's worth. The old style Is the new style and two years of sick leave seems to have harmed their popularity none at all.

There are more and better folk groups today, however, than when Bud and Travis threw away the gold ring; it takes more for a group to hit the big money than a format of folksy tunes and humor. Bud and Travis have the makings for more than what they're giving. You don't have to mess with a good thing, just add something to It.

Bud & The Beatles

OK, in the "just for fun" department, here is one I suspect Bud Dashiell later would have liked to have back! The Tri-City Herald (DC-area) interviewed Bud in late February of 1964, and this quote appears in the February 23 edition:

COMMENTING ON Beatles. Bud said: "I don't think one of the Beatles' tunes will be remembered in a year."

Ouch. Little bit off on that one, my friend! I guess it's further proof that soothsaying is a bit of a fool's game, even if one, like Bud, was the furthest thing from a fool in every other aspect of life!

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