3 April 1943
The Bronx, New York, New York, United States
20 July 2008 (aged 65)
Artie Traum is an award-winning guitarist and songwriter featured on over 20 albums for Capitol, Sony, Shanachie, Slice of Life and Narada Records. A pioneer of the 1970’s acoustic music scene, Traum been described as a musician "whose work defines the vitality and sophistication of American acoustic music." (Acoustic Guitar Magazine 2002). During his career he has produced or recorded with with John Sebastian, The Band, Bela Fleck, Tony Levin, Richie Havens, Pete Seeger, Abby Newton, David Grisman, Livingston Taylor, Patty Larkin, Michael Franks, Jesse Winchester and dozens of top artists.
A native of the Bronx, New York, Traum gravitated to the Greenwich Village music scene in the late 1960’s. It was there he became influenced by artists James Taylor, The Even Dozen Jug Band, Bonnie Raitt, Muddy Waters and Mississippi John Hurt. At clubs in New York, Artie listened to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Jim Hall, Howard Roberts and the Modern Jazz Quartet. He recorded his first track She’s Gone in The True Endeavor Jug Band started by blues writer Sam Charters for Vanguard in the late 1960’s. He played guitar for the blues vocalist Judy Roderick and was the featured guitarist on her highly-regarded Woman Blue (Vanguard Records). He co-wrote and recorded the score for Brian de Palma’s first film "Greetings" –the first role for Robert DeNiro – with Eric Kaz and the band Bear.
In 1970, Artie joined forces with his brother Happy Traum. The duo recorded their debut album in Nashville for Capitol Records, a recording the New York Times called “one of the best records in any field of pop music.”
Happy and Artie Traum, 1969
Newport Folk Festival
Photo: Dan Beach
The Traums were managed by Albert Grossman (The Band, Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary) and toured around the world as an opening act with these groups and often headlined their own shows. They performed at the 1969 Newport Folk Festival and other major festivals on stage with James Taylor, Kris Kristoferson and Joni Mitchell. Their 2nd album Double Back was also recorded in Nashville, and at Bearsville Studios. Happy Traum moved to Woodstock in 1968 and soon Artie followed him to this small country town. The duo played major festivals and concerts around the world, with a strong fan base who enjoyed Happy & Artie shows that featured musicians Arlen Roth, Debbie Andersen, Eric Kaz and other top players.
During the 70's and 80's, Artie became an internationally known performer, appearing on stages in Europe, Japan and at the Newport Folk Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival and Carnegie Hall. He also performed and co-produced the Woodstock Mountains Revue, a unique folk group that featured Artie & Happy Traum, Pat Alger, Jim Rooney, Bill Keith, Larry Campbell, John Herald and John Sebastian. Guest artists like Maria Muldaur, Rory Block, Eric Andersen, Paul Butterfield and Paul Siebel joined the group for recordings. The Revue recorded 5 classic albums for Rounder Records, and although Rounder allowed over 50 of their tracks to go out-of-print, the band is widely considered one of the premier folk groups of the time.
In the mid 1980’s Artie joined forces with songwriter Pat Alger (Thunder Rolls, Unanswered Prayers, Once In A Very Blue Moon) and the due recorded the album From The Heart. Pat Alger moved to Nashville to begin his career as a top country and folk songwriter. Rounder Records also allowed this album to go out of print, along with Artie’s Life On Earth and Happy and Artie's Hard Times In The Country with notes by the poet Allen Ginzburg
In 1988, Happy and Artie co-hosted "Bring It On Home," a live folk show out of NPR affiliate WAMC (Albany, NY) which featured guests Richard Thompson, Rick Danko & Garth Hudson, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason and dozens more.
In 1994, Artie made a sea-change in his style. Drawn to the jazz of Weather Report, Pat Metheny and Earl Klugh, Traum started exploring new directions. "I’ve always loved jazz and decided try a jazz instrumental guitar project," says Traum. The results were stellar: Artie’s 1994 release Letters From Joubee captured the #1 spot on the smooth jazz radio charts(Gavin AA chart). This success led to other CDs that allowed Traum to explore acoustic guitar work and instrumental music.
In 1999 Traum released Meetings With Remarkable Friends, featuring collaborative tracks with Bela Fleck and Sam Bush, John Sebastian, Tony Levin, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, The Band, Adrian Belew and many others. Meetings was awarded Best Acoustic Instrumental Album of 1999 by the NAV Awards and has been described as a "classic."
In 2001, Traum released The Last Romantic (Narada) which was placed "on this year's list of best releases… another absorbing, distinctive effort" by Hilarie Grey of Jazz Times. Traum's latest release South of Lafayette (2002-2003) is his first singer-songwriter effort in many years. South of Lafayette was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered in March 2003, when Artie was interviewed by host Linda Wertheimer. "I felt I needed to find my singing voice again and an amazing thing happened," says Traum. "Each of these songs is about a character dealing with events in a specific place and time. It reflects my love of diversity in the world, from the cliffs of Sicily to a cold winter in Maine. It has elements of folk music, jazz and pop music, all rolled into one." South of Lafayette has been called a "hip fusion of folk and jazz esthetics" by Sing Out Magazine. Jazz Times adds: "Artie Traum's elegantly crafted acoustic folk-jazz is in evidence on his latest effort."
Artie Traum’s songs and instrumentals have been recorded by The Band, David Grisman and Tony Rice and he has composed film scores for PBS shows including Do You Mean There Are Still Real Cowboys produced by the actress Glenn Close and directed by Academy Award winning director Jon Blair. He has co-hosted the syndicated NPR show Bring It On Home at affiliate WAMC in Albany, New York. He has also written dozens of instructional books and DVDs about music and guitar styles, published by Happy Traum's company Homespun Tapes. Artie's article for the New York Times Sunday Travel Section "The Aeolian Islands" won him the Italian Leonardo Award in International Journalism in 2000.
Recently, Artie teamed up with folksingers Chris Shaw and Tom Akstens to release Big Trout Radio: Songs About Fishing, a highly-acclaimed acoustic album featured in Field and Stream Magazine and on NPR. Happy and Artie Traum released a CD of "live" recordings from the 1970's and '80s on Slice of Life Records in Japan in 2006.
Artie recently toured for Taylor Guitars, performing very popular guitar "clinics" where he demonstrated the guitar styles he's studied and performed for over 35 years. He released Acoustic Guitar Jazz in early 2004 - a compilation of his hottest acoustic tracks.
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