with tradition, reaching into adventurous jazz and rock forms, the music
of guitarist and composer Artie Traum is the story of contemporary
acoustic music - from the heady days of the Greenwich Village folk scene
of the 1960s through the explosive growth of guitar music into a
contemporary American art form with roots of its own.
Traum's music begins in New York but wanders back in time from there. Born
in the Bronx in 1943, Traum took a liking to folk music and began playing
banjo in the style of Pete Seeger. Working through old-time banjoists like
Roscoe Holcomb to technical masters Don Reno and Earl Scruggs, Traum
eventually moved on to acoustic guitar and found it offered even greater
variety. He says, "I learned how to play from my older brother Happy,
who was listening to people like Big Bill Broonzy and Brownie McGhee. He
would take the subway down to Harlem and take lessons from McGhee.
"In one night in New York you might be able to go out and see Bill
Monroe, Mose Allison, and Miles Davis - there was so much going on! We
didn't realize how extraordinary those times were. We took it for granted
- it seemed natural and we didn't think it would ever be any
Traum frequented music stores and folklore centers, playing guitars and
jamming with David Grisman, John Sebastian, and others in the burgeoning
folk scene, and made regular trips to music clubs in Greenwich Village.
"I would see people like James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell,
Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Bob Dylan, all of them just starting out,"
I started moving toward urban blues, and then country blues. Like every
other guitar player I listened to a lot of Robert Johnson.Howlin' Wolf's
album Moanin' in the Moonlight is still some of the funkiest stuff I've
ever heard. From there I got into Chicago blues, old funky stuff, and then
more modern players at that time, like Albert King. "So I was being
pulled in a lot of different directions by all this powerful music. I've
always been very restless staying with one style or influence - I like to
do as many different things as I can."
Performing as a sideman in various bands, Traum made his first record with
a band called Children of Paradise, "somewhat reminiscent of the
Mamas & Papas sound," he recalls. At the same time Traum began
performing shows with his brother. The guitar duo was drawing national
acclaim when they signed a management contract with Albert Grossman, whose
other clients included Dylan, The Band, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Janis
Joplin. Grossman quickly arranged a recording deal, and The New York Times
wrote, "Their debut album is one of the best records in any field of
Opening shows for the likes of Dylan, The Band, Paul Butterfield, and
other headliners put Artie and Happy in front of huge audiences."We
really went international then," Traum recalls. "Those years did
a lot for us. We were touring regularly in America, Europe, and Japan. We
finally slowed down around 1984, partly because of our different musical
sensibilities. Happy has always been more centered on folk music, where I
have trouble sticking to any one style."
Listening to Earl Klugh, Bob James, Acoustic Alchemy, Weather Report, and
David Sanborn (who recorded with Artie and Happy), Traum was moving in new
directions. "I was listening to all those chords, the harmonic
possibilities, and thinking I'd like to be writing some of those tunes.
And, truthfully, I was tired of attempting to sing - I never was a great
singer. I wanted to concentrate on the instrumental side of things."
The popularity of his jazz efforts surprised Traum. "I had no idea my
record would ever do anything with people like Pat Metheny on the charts,"
he says. Nevertheless, Traum's Letters from Joubeé was No. 1 on Gavin
Report's Smooth Jazz chart and stayed at the top of Gavin and R&R's
charts for six months.
South of Lafayette, 2002, Roaring Stream Records
The Last Romantic, 2001, Narada
Meetings with Remarkable Friends, 1999, Narada #46957
The View From Here, 1996, Shanachie #5016
Letters From Joubee, 1993. Re-released on Narada Records in 2000.
Cayenne, 1987, Rounder #3084
From The Heart (w/ Pat Alger), 1980, Rounder #3039 out of print
Life On Earth, 1977, Rounder #3014 out of print
• with The Woodstock Mountains Revue:
Live at The Bearsville Theater Vol.2, 1990, Village Green #74 (Japan)
Live at The Bearsville Theater Vol.1, 1990, Village Green #73 (Japan)
Woodstock Mountains: Music From Mud Acres, 1995, Rounder #11520
(CD compilation from the first four WMR releases noted below)
Back To Mud Acres, 1981, Rounder #3065
Pretty Lucky, 1978, Rounder #3025
More Music From Mud Acres, 1977,
Rounder #3018 (o-o-p)
Mud Acres: Music Among Friends, 1974,
Rounder #3001 (cassette only)
• with Happy & Artie Traum:
The Test Of Time, 1993, Roaring Stream Records #201
Hard Times In The Country, 1975, Rounder #3007 (o-o-p)
Happy & Artie Traum / Double-Back, Import 2-fer reissue, Vivid #534
Double-Back, 1971, Capitol #799 (o-o-p)
Happy & Artie Traum, 1969, Capitol #586 (o-o-p)
• with Bear (w/Eric Kaz, Steve Soles, Skip Boone & Darius
Greetings, Children Of Paradise, 1968, Verve Forecast #3059 (o-o-p)
• with True Endeavor Jug Band (w/Danny Kalb, Artie Rose, Sam &
Ann Charters and Sita Dimitroff):
The Art Of The Jug Band, 1963, Prestige #14022 (o-o-p, three tracks from
this release are included on The Prestige/Folklore Years: Volume Three,
• Happy & Artie also appear on (and host) the Bring It On
Home compilations, Vol. 1 (Sony Legacy #52997) and Vol. 2 (Sony Legacy
#52998), both 1994.
VIDEOS ON HOMESPUN TAPES
NEW! Essential DADGAD For Beginners (VD-ART-DG01)
Essential Riffs For Acoustic Guitar (VD-ART-RF01)
Guitar Accompaniment (VD-ART-GT01)
Guitar Chord Magic (2 tapes, VD-ART-MA01 & VD-ART-MA02) Audio
Jazz Guitar (AD-ART-JZ), Hot Licks For
Guitar (AD-ART-HG) Lead Guitar (AD-ART-LD);
and CDs Essential Chords &
Progressions for Acoustic Guitar (CDZ-AT01) &
101 Essential Riffs (CDZ-AT02).