Free Licks / Blog

Welcome to Our Free Licks + Happy Traum's Blog!

We're pleased to offer these useful guitar licks and tips bHomespun owner/instructor Happy Traum and others. We hope these will keep your fingers busy and give you some inspiration and add excitement to your day. Keep checking back for new entries.

In addition, take a look at Happy's Blog. He has had a fascinating journey through more than six decades of playing, writing and studying about American folk music, and he has quite a few stories to tell. Again, he'll be making regular entries into this blog, so come back to it from time to time and see what he has to say.

Some Helpful Tips on Performing

If you are studying an instrument or learning to sing, sooner or later you will want to try out your music on an audience. It may be in a living room for family and friends, at an "open mike" night at a coffee house or local club, or at a professional engagement. No matter how large or small the audience, as soon as you come before them with your instrument in your hand or a song on your lips you are performing and there are some basic things you should know to help you do your best, and give the maximum pleasure to your listeners. 

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The Story of a Guitar

I started playing the guitar when I was 16. With my parent’s help, I bought a Harmony Sovereign with an action so high you could slice cheese on the fingerboard. My fingers got pretty sliced up, too. It never occurred to me back then that I could have taken it to a repair shop to get it adjusted. (Actually, I’m not sure there was such a thing in the Bronx in 1954.) So, I struggled with it for a couple of years, learning my basic chords and some folk songs, and building some pretty impressive callouses.

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Remembering Izzy Young

In 1957, I was 19 and already a committed folkie and a frequent participant in the Washington Square jam sessions on fair-weather Sundays. I had heard of a place that was opening on MacDougal Street, just a few blocks away, so I went over there one May afternoon for the Grand Opening. I found myself in a group of fellow folk singers having a jam of our own in the back room of the little shop. Jean Ritchie was there with her dulcimer, as were Carolyn Hester, Roy Berkeley, Cynthia Gooding, Mollie Scott and several others. Jean’s husband, photographer George Pickow, captured this  now-iconic photo at that event.

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A Crazy Bluegrass Festival in Culpepper, VA

Sometimes odd bits of ephemera show up from your past, as did this poster from a festival in Culpepper, Virginia in 1973, thanks to Fred Robbins. This event was one for the books. It was billed as a "bluegrass folk festival" and it sure had a lot of everything, including much post-hippie craziness. 

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Music From Home - A Life in Woodstock NY

Woodstock, NY has always had a musical resonance to me, ever since I came to play at the old Cafe Espresso on Tinker Street one wintery night in 1963. I took the bus from New York City and was picked up by the proprietor, Bernard Paturel, French and suave with his brushed mustaches and vaguely Gallic accent. He took me to his apartment above the club to meet Marylou and their small children, and then down to the Cafe, which was warm and cozy after the long, snowy bus ride. The room was already crowded with local folk who had come more to get out of the cold than to see a young unknown folksinger from the city, but everyone was as welcoming as the room itself. That summer I was invited back to perform at a much larger venue, the first of many appearances I made over the years at the Woodstock Playhouse. As before, many Woodstockers showed a keen interest in the folk music that I loved, and I began meeting more of the colorful citizens of the art colony.

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