Relax Your Mind was recorded in 1975. It was Happy’s first solo album. It is a collection of songs that Happy has been playing for years. Happy explained it like this: “The songs on this album have all been favorites of mine for many years - some for as long as I have been playing guitar. Each one says something that touches me, or tells a story that I enjoy retelling.
I have arranged them all in the fingerpicking style, for a unity of feeling and for the sake of those, who want to learn to pick. Most are, not terribly difficult, and if you play a little guitar you should be able to master them with the help of the PDF tab booklet that is on the CD. Hopefully, playing these instrumentals will give you ideas for songs that are special to 'you', and you will use them in your own arrangements.
All tunes have been transcribed and included in a pdf tab/music booklet on the CD.
Track Listing: (click on tracks for mp3 sound samples)1. Relax Your Mind
Review: This is a reissue of Traum's first solo album, recorded for Kicking Mule in 1975, when he was 37. But don't assume Happy was a late bloomer; it's just that he was busy doing other things.
Traum began playing guitar in Greenwich Village in the 1950s, immersed in the folk revival. While Bromberg and Van Ronk were sitting at Rev. Gary Davis' knee, Traum was studying with Brownie McGhee. He recorded with his younger brother, the late Artie Traum and supplied guitar, banjo, bass, and vocal harmonies on "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," "Down In The Flood," and "I Shall Be Released" on Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Volume 1.
But he's probably best known for his instructional Homespun Tapes, the company he founded 40 years ago - which eventually transitioned from audio cassettes to DVD lessons by such greats as Jerry Douglas, Laurence Juber, Cindy Cashdollar, Etta Baker, and of course, Happy.
So this is a "debut" by a fully formed artist. Except for Patrick Alger's mandolin on two cuts, it's entirely solo acoustic, with Traum displaying ease and facility whether playing blues or Celtic folk. He flatpicks a 12-string on the Leadbelly title track, but Travis-picks an instrumental arrangement of Huddie's "Poor Howard" on six-string. His "dead-thumb," fingerpicked "Gypsy Davey" is one of the best renditions of the song (usually associated with Woody Guthrie), and his intimate rendition of "Fair And Tender Ladies" (again,with a slight Travis bounce) just might be its best reading ever.
In the tradition of both Homespun and producer Stefan Grossman's various labels, a bonus PDF booklet contains each song's music and tablature. At 71, Traum is as active as ever, and, if his most recent CD, 2005's I Walk The Road Again, is any indication, just as good. – Dan Forte/Vintage Guitar