Greetings, Folk Heritage friends! We just wrapped up a lovely show last Friday with Chris Stuart and Janet Beazley in Poway, and we’re now gearing up for another performance on Friday, January 30th at Templar’s Hall with acclaimed American folk musician Happy Traum. San Diego’s own Chris Clarke will open the show. Tickets are available at the door or online.
Playing off Happy’s name, we asked him a few emotionally-driven questions about his personal and musical journey.
You were an active participant during the Greenwich Village folk days of the 50s/60s. What is one of your happiest memories from that era?
My first day, as a teen-aged novice guitarist/folksinger, finding my way to Washington Square on a sunny Sunday afternoon and finding a park filled with like-minded players from all over the city jamming on guitars, banjos, fiddles, mandolins and other acoustic instruments. They were playing bluegrass, folksongs, blues, ragtime, calypso, old-time and every other genre of “folk music” you could think of. It was the start of many trips to the Village over there next decade.
What angers you about today’s politics?
The hardened attitudes and intolerance for other’s viewpoints. Left or Right, we need to find common ground.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
My wife and I are avid table tennis players and enthusiasts.
In addition to performing, you are an accomplished writer and instructor. How do you handle the stress of multi-tasking?
It’s not stressful if you love what you’re doing and feel fulfilled and lucky to be able to do what you like. I’m challenged and invigorated by what I do, not stressed.
As the music industry limps along in the digital age, is there anything that worries you about the industry now compared to earlier years?
I’m optimistic because I see so many people still making music together “the old-fashioned way.” There may be more front porch pickers, local bands, open mics, jam sessions, song circles and other musical communication going on than ever before. Digital delivery means more access, even though it may mean less monetary income. Still, musicians are finding a way to make a living and get their music out to others.
What song gives you the most joy to perform live?
I always love to play Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain.” It never comes out the same way twice.
Your friend and fellow musician Bob Dylan certainly has a way with words. What is one of the most amusing things he ever said to you?
He once told me (this was back in the late Sixties) that Perry Como was the greatest living singer. I thought it was amusing at the time, but he was very serious and meant it.
You’ve traveled extensively throughout the world. What do you love the most about visiting a new city?
First, finding where the good food is and then meeting musically like-minded people, who are seemingly everywhere. It’s through them that I discover things I need to know about a new city.
We hope you’ll join us on January 30 for Happy’s performance. As an added bonus, Happy will be teaching a guitar workshop on Sunday, February 1, also at Templar’s Hall in Poway. For more information on both events, please visit www.sdfolkheritage.org.