BUD AND TRAVIS INTERVIEW
Ava Victoria is a talented singer/musician who studied guitar and performance with Bud Dashiell in his Westwood Boulevard studio from 1974 to 1978. Ava's new CD Hybrid Songbird is currently available via her website at http://avavictoria.com. Songbird focused heavily on pieces from American musical theatre, with more lush and theatrical arrangements than anything you'd find on a B&T or Bud solo CD. Nevertheless, when Ava ventures into traditional American folk - such as in her "Shanandoah/Down in The Valley" medley – and does so with only her acoustic guitar and her clear lyric mezz-soprano, Bud's (and even B&T's) influence becomes obvious. Recently, Ava was kind enough to sit down with www.budandtravis.com and speak candidly about her four years of study under Bud. Ava confirms the many portraits I've received of Bud over the years as a warm, kind, and funny but also very serious person – serious about his music, his beliefs, and his commitment to teaching and his students in the years following the demise of Bud and Travis.
When did you first meet Bud?
It was July 1974. I was at the end of graduate studies at UCLA. Bud ran an ad in the campus newspaper. It read something about a performer's workshop for singer-guitarist in Westwood, CA. I remember being so excited. I called the number in the ad and it was Bud's voice. At the time I didn't know who he was. He said he was collecting names and number and would get back to the callers. He did and the first class met July 9, 1974 at this studio on Westwood Blvd. I was really anxious for this because I had been too far away from guitar and singing with graduate studies.
For how long did you know Bud?
I studied with Bud from 1974 to 1978. I moved to Berkeley, CA in the late summer of 1978. I really missed studying with him. I remember his comment when i told him I was moving to Berkeley, "Oh, the FOLKIER-than-thou crowd." He thought three chord people were boring. I have to agree. Many are uninspired in the chord voicing.
What was your first impression of Bud – e.g. was he shy, gregarious, charming, all, none?
He was very approachable and straightforward. He had a pleasant grin most of the time. I liked him immediately. The grin I came to find out was a "knowing" expression. Bud thought a lot of things were amusing.
Did this impression change at all over time?
No, not much. The more serious side of him emerged the longer I studied with him. That grin never went away. I came to learn what the grin was about. He was poking fun at stuff most of the time. He expressed every strong feelings about manhood, fatherhood, music, and keeping your word. He was very refreshing after the years of academics. He was intellectual but down to earth also.
Was he a hard or easy person to get to know well?
I cam to study with hi, not to know his personal life. I was very accustomed to teachers keeping personal distance. As the years went by he spoke a little more about this opinions but his family life was kept to himself.
In what ways has Bud influenced your music and even your general creativity?
Well, my CD, Hybrid Songbird has "Baltimore Oriole" which Bud taught me. He would give a general arrangement and I would go off in my own direction. "Shenandoah" is another one that shows his influence. Both arrangements met with his approval. He's forever influenced the way I use chords and the texture I use for a guitar arrangement. I love the nylon string guitar and so did he. The warmth of the instrument is something we'd speak of frequently. I played the 12-string guitar for a time. In Bud's studio I met Erik Darling of the ROOF TOP SINGERS. He inspired me to play more 12-string guitar. The nylon string guitar has always been comfort for me in the end. Bud truly understood the nylon string guitar's capability to support the singer and the song.
What was Bud like as a teacher?
I remember him being thorough, patient, and very funny. When I made mistakes he never rushed to fix them. He'd let me fumble a bit, figure it out, and keep going. This really took the pressure off at the lesson. He was wonderful in the workshops too, very insightful and had clear direction on how to make something work. I remember him being very easy to learn from, and time hasn't changed that.
Is there a particularly funny and/or telling anecdote about Bud you'd like to share? (ie. what is your favorite "Bud Story," for lack of a better term?)
A phone call came in during one of my guitar lessons. I don't know for sure who made the call. The comment made by Bud when he hung up the phone was a memorable one. "Streisand wanting to play the guitar is like God wanting to play ice hockey." God playing ice hockey was funny to my mind... not Streisand playing the guitar!
Did Bud ever speak about Travis, or his days with Bud and Travis? If so, was it positive, negative, neutral, with regret, with sadness, with happiness, none, all?
I remember some sadness about it. But he rarely went to that topic except to speak about the music itself.
Did Bud ever talk about or hint at reuniting with Travis?
Not that I remember.
What was Bud's opinion of rock music?
He always said that intelligent up tunes for the solo singer-guitarist were hard to find. He never discouraged me from looking to Top 40 rock songs that cold be used as solo up tunes in a set. He held the same opinion about show tunes: if they work, use them.
Were there any "contemporary" groups that you remember him particularly liking or disliking?
None while I studied with him that I remember. He spoke of some 60s group who recorded a song called "rock and Roll Gypsies." I never got the name of the group or heard the song. He liked the group and the song.
What type of music did Bud listen to during the time you knew him?
he really made a deal bout Luis Bonfa, Earl Klugh, Jorge Ben and Michael Johnson. He loved Ben's right hand rhythm patterns. He insisted that I use them whenever I could fill out a tune so it sounded BIG! Big can be a problem for one voice and one acoustic nylon string guitar. He said that the short form chords used by Luis Bonfa and Earl Klugh made nice lines in between verses. Michael Johnson was someone he urged me to listen to and listen carefully. Bud had deep admiration for Manitas de Plata. I was really into Segovia at the time.
Did Bud ever speak about his combat experiences in the Korean War?
Not any particular experience per se. He spoke of Korea in general one time that I recall. I told him that I had one Uncle who was in Korea and one Uncle was in Vietnam. I added that my Dad never went into the army; he had to stay on the farm and was sorry that he hadn't served. Bud said a very kind thing..."Yeah, that's because your Father is a man and would consider it a privilege to serve..." Then he said something else about my Dad having a very solid hand shake. I remember these words of kindness. Bud had strong feelings about patriotism and manhood.
Did Bud ever speak about this grandfather Samuel Dashiell, ho was a general in Africa in WWII, and even wrote a book about it called Victory Through Africa?
No I don't remember this.
Was Bud's mother really in the Folies Bergere?
He said that his mother was the whip on the line. That was the smallest dancer on the end? I remember him being proud of this.
Travis Edmonson In Memoriam
Pages of memories, music, tributes and photos of the irrepressible, irreplaceable and inspirational Travis Edmonson.
Singer AVA VICTORIA sends her condolences to Travis' Family.
"I wish that I could've met Travis. I have precious memories of my days with Bud Dashiell and all that he taught me. God bless them both and I imagine them reunited doing their best work ever."
KICKIN' UP LIFE
She bills herself as the "hybrid songbird" because she enjoys, performs and is influenced by a variety of musical styles. Ava Victoria is a songbird who can belt, coo or trill sweet or hot. She soars with some Broadway songs; Kickin' Up Life kicks off with "Life Is" from Zorba, immediately establishing her take-charge competence on this anthem of carpe diem. Other show tunes on this, her second CD, include terrific performances of two Jerry Herman numbers, a joyful "Just Go to the Movies" (A Day in Hollywood, A Night in the Ukraine) and a powerfully noble "I Belong Here" (The Grand Tour). She's quite affecting on more vulnerable ballads, too. Witness "It Never Was You" and "Once Upon a Time," where tenderness prevails without any sticky sentimentality.
Clear-voiced and clearly comfortable in various moods, Ava puts a listener at ease. Not just a singer, she accompanies herself on guitar on seven of the twelve tracks and co-wrote two, with a little help from the Bible on "Are You Ready Now?" Instrumentation varies from song to song, with three different pianists and guest musicians variously playing cello, trombone, Celtic bodhran, etc.
I'd missed her first album, Hybrid Songbird, but got both of them earlier this year. Though I haven't fit this CD into a column until today, I listened to both right away and kept them around, going back to them more often than most. They are initially exciting and wear well. (The first is two-thirds show tunes and is excellent, too, with some of the same writers represented: Herman, Weill/ Anderson and Kander & Ebb).
The Beatles' "For No One," changed from the third person narrative, is beautifully done, with great feeling and a consistently focused sense of storytelling. My only disappointment of the known songs is "Here's to Life," as it just isn't as effective to me when sung by someone who sounds so young rather than the older singers who have gravitated to it, bringing a wealth of life experience and perspective. Hard-won battles don't come through on her more serene reading of this.
Ava has a very attractive, controlled, emotion-filled vibrato that's very effective on the ballads and she sounds like an authentic folk singer/ troubadour when she puts on her folk hat; she can choke back a tear at times, too. Hybrid and high class, she's got a lot going for her.
Entertainer AVA VICTORIA is known to Bud & Travis fans via the wonderful interview she did with Tom Straw on budandtravis.com. She's meantime released a wonderful new CD, “Hybrid Songbird,” which will surely appeal to all fans of the group! (More info on her website given below.)
“I hope that one day I will have the GREAT pleasure of meeting Travis Edmonson. I was a student of Bud's in Westwood, California. I have most of the vinyl they made, and the collection is precious to me. Please do let Travis Edmonson know how much I do enjoy those recordings.”
Benefit Performance Review
Ava Victoria kicked off the first public performance of San Francisco StageWorks with "An Evening of Cabaret" on October 21, 2002. This sold out event was a benefit performance that marked the beginning of a San Francisco exclusive one-year contract with San Francisco StageWorks for future performances to help raise funds for the company and for it's musical projects specifically.
Along with the help of some very talented musicians, Ava made the evening more than memorable with 4 sets of uninterrupted entertainment.
Ava's first set focused on musical theatre with accompaniment provided by Naomi Sanchez. Along with two selections from her CD "Hybrid Songbird", Ava premiered "Cottage by the Sea", a song featured in the brand new musical "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" which is being written by Bay Area writers and developed and produced through San Francisco StageWorks.
Ava takes us into different styles of music and moods seamlessly due to her quick wit and delightful patter. The second set of music brought in the talents of jazz pianist Ken Fishler, who accompanied Ava on songs ranging from Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington to Hoagy Carmichael.
For her third set, Ava surprised and delighted the crowd by playing the guitar with hilarious specialty pieces that rocked the room! "Why Him", from Lane and Lerner's "Carmelina" provided one of the evenings funniest moments with people rolling in their seats.
Before Ava moved into her fourth set, she surprised the audience once again by bringing pianist Jim Murdock up to the stage. Their rendition of "Come in from the Rain" sparkled and gave us an idea of their performing history and the musical chemistry that the two share with each other.
Pianist Naomi Sanchez returned to the stage as Ava finished the evening with a final round of musical theatre and the show stopping "City Lights" which ignited the audience to a standing ovation and welcomed Ava back to the stage to sing her final song for the evening, "I Won't Send Roses". This selection from "Mack and Mabel" is one of the audience's favorites and can also be found on her CD "Hybrid Songbird". There is a wonderful story involving writer/composer Jerry Herman and Ava regarding how this particular version of the song developed from their conversations. We will let Ava tell you the story when she takes the stage again for her next benefit performance.
We are delighted to be working with Ava in the future on more of these types of events that help raise money for San Francisco StageWorks and projects such as "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir". Don't miss her next performance. Thanks again Ava!
Visit San Francisco StageWorks Website for my future benefit performances for them.
*Please visit WSAM (Hartford,CT) and send a thank you for playing "Words She Doesn't Say" from the CD HYBRID SONGBIRD. Tell them which selection is your favorite from the CD.