Happy Traum

There’s a Bright Side Somewhere

Traum is known to some as founder of the expansive Homespun Tapes instructional series, but there’s nothing academic about this baker’s dozen. From the powerful intricacies of “Santa Cruz Blues,” an improvisation named for the brand of his signature acoustic, to a delicate instrumental take on “Come All You Fair And Tender Ladies,” Traum has the uncanny ability to make you stop dead in your tracks and just listen.

He pays homage to mentor Brownie McGhee on “Living With The Blues,” and gets helping hands from heavyweights like steel ace Cindy Cashdollar, multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, and the Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian on harmonica. But it’s Traum’s expressive vocals and nimble picking that command, without either resorting to showmanship for its own sake. In the process, he reveals just how exciting folk music can be.

He may be dubbed “Woodstock’s own folk music legend,” but his reach goes far beyond upstate New York. With this release, it should go well beyond folk circles, as well. If you’re a guitar player, regardless of style, you’d do well to delve into the works of this master, and this is a perfect place to start.

This article originally appeared in VG’s November 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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