The Travis Edmonson tribute took place in Tucson, Az, on May 12, 2001, and was a smashing success! And yes, that's yours truly, Tom Straw, below with Travis Edmonson, backstage before the event. (Note my silly grin!) To view a "backstage" photo gallery of the night's proceedings, click on the image. Unfortunately, none of my pictures of the performance turned out well; and as you will undoubtedly notice in many of the pictures, even those photos that did turn out are bit on the dark side, even after electronic tweeking. Ah, the perils of disposal cameras!
Click To View The Photo Gallery!
If you attended the event and got any good shots of the concert itself, send copies along to me at email@example.com, and I will gladly post them in the photo gallery!
The night's festivities included not just a concert, but the official mayoral declaration of "Travis Edmonson Day" in Tucson, well wishes from Nick Reynolds and John Stweart, a Yacqui Indian ceremonial tribute dance, and a family reunion of sorts, as many members of Travis' family met after long separations.
The night's performers included:
Ted Ramirez and The Santa Cruz River Band (a great trad band with a quite varied repertoire; they also served as the "house band" of sorts)
Dolan Ellis (of New Christy Minstrels fame)
Marshall Trimble (AZ state historian, and excellent musician)
Katie Lee (legendary singer of cowboy and Old West songs)
Earl Edmonson (Travis' nephew and fantastically versatile musician)
Steve Edmonson (Travis' son, and exceptional blues guitar player)
Ellen Murphy (Travis' daughter, and fine singer/guitarist)
Erin Kissel (Travis' daughter, and a good singer)
Gerry Glombecki (a Tucson legend in his own right)
Members of the Yaqui Indian Tribe (performed ceremonial tribute dance dedicated to Travis)
All the performances were tremendous, though my personal favorites were the Travis originals, because it was the only time I had ever (or probably will ever) get to hear these great tunes live. Thanks especially to Marshall Trimble for performing three such originals ("Cloudy Summer Afternoon," "Guess I'll Go Home," and "South Wind"). Other Travis originals performed were "I'm A Drifter" (a capella!), "Song of the River," "Gopher Blues," and "Vamos Al Baile" (yes, I know "Vamos" isn't a Travis original exactly, but a trad song augmented heavily by Travis).
Of course, other attendees have already chimed in about their favorite moments, and I am hard pressed to argue with their votes! Steve Edmonson related that Earl's performance of "Nana's Mandolin" had the entire backstage in tears. Steve even had to delay his own performance so he could recover! Without a doubt, Earl is one of the most oustanding musicians you will ever see or hear. Even better, his voice (to my "untrained" ears, anyway!) is a sweet choirboy tenor, and very reminiscent of Travis'. This of course takes nothing away from the talents of Steve, one of the best blues guitar players I've heard. If I could play like Steve, I guarantee you I wouldn't have his humility!
Another special moment, at the very beginning of the evening, was a duet featuring Travis' first daughter (Ellen) and youngest daughter (Erin) on the Edmonson original "Song of the River." Dolan Ellis' brief set reminded me a bit of the B&T concert albums, featuring as it did much patter/high jinx aimed at both Travis and the audience. Gerry Glombecki's reading of "Gopher Blues" was a particular treat, in that it was the firt time I heard the tune (co-written by Travis) in any setting. The Yaqui ceremonial dance added a tone to the proceedings that was at once solemn and joyous. In all, it was a perfect evening! Huge thanks and kudos should go to Mike Bartlett, who masterminded the event.
Now, I think we should come up with an excuse to do this every year! But can the next one be in Pittsburgh? :-)