On his new recording, out on CD, not quite officially released but available to the concert goers who’ll show up at his performance at the Maverick at 8 p.m. Saturday, September 5, fabled fingerpicker Happy Traum lists the guitars he plays on each of the tracks.
On the first song, a beautifully grooved version of Careless Love, Happy digs in on a grittily-toned Gibson J-200 that was once owned by Reverend Gary Davis, the King of the Street Singers, who would shout the gospel on New York’s streets in the 1940s and 50s, backed by his intricate ragtime fingerpicking style.
“It’s a typical old story,” says Traum. “It was found in somebody’s attic, a woman’s father had passed away and the daughter brought it to an old roadie of John Sebastian’s. She said it had belonged to a preacher or something. Through photos and Matt Umanov (one of the top vintage guitar experts in the world) it as discovered that it was one that Reverend Gary Davis had played back in the 50s. I had borrowed it for a little bit, so I just played it on that one tune, I had to play it on that. It’s a beautiful guitar.”
Traum uses a handful of instruments on the record, called Just for the Love of It, and the title truly describes the way it feels.
“It was like going to see friends and bring different guitars with me. There was not a whole lot of prearranging, very little overdubbing. It was mostly done just live. I sang and played and the band played with me…” The disc was produced by Traum with Larry Campbell, recorded at local studios and features Campbell and his wife Teresa Williams, bassist Byron Isaacs, drummer Jerry Marotta and, of course, Traum’s pal, Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer John Sebastian.
“I’m happy with the CD,” says Traum. “Everybody had been very supportive and said nice things about it. Best thing I’ve done in a really long time.” Especially important to the artist is the song “High Muddy Water.” “John Herald’s song moves me,” he says. “He was such a good friend and soulful musician. I’m glad to do my part in honoring him.”
The Maverick show will feature Traum with a small group of cohorts. Sebastian will be on board, as will the great Dobro and steel player Cindy Cashdollar, newly returned to living in town and just in off the road after a summer performing with Albert Lee. Woodstock singer, songwriter Zach Djanikian will also play with the group. “I just though I would try to mix in someone a little different,” says Traum. “He plays a few different instruments.”
Traum loves treading on such hallowed musical ground. “The Maverick is such a beautiful place to play. What an honor to be part of their 100th anniversary program.”
Tickets are $40 and $25 and are available at https://maverickconcerts.tix.com/; by calling 679-8217. The Maverick Concert Hall is at 120 Maverick Road, Woodstock.