Artie Traum - 1943 - 2008

Thursday July 24, 2008
By: Taylor Guitars News

We’re immensely saddened to report the passing of Artie Traum, a longtime member of Taylor’s extended family whose heartfelt music, gentle spirit and playful sense of humor touched countless people during his life. Artie had been undergoing treatment for a rare ocular melanoma for the past four years, but it spread to his liver and in its advanced state was untreatable. He died peacefully at home on Sunday, July 20, with his wife Beverly at his side. A message from the Traum family is posted on his website, www.artietraum.com. “Like everything else in his life, Artie handled his diagnosis with dignity, strength and acceptance — and even a little of his irreverent humor,” his family noted.

A man of copious musical gifts, Artie emerged from the vibrant Greenwich Village folk scene of the ’60s and would go on to distinguish himself among critics and audiences alike over a career that spanned nearly four decades. Artie adventurously explored a variety of musical idioms, from folk to blues to jazz to pop, absorbing American music’s rich heritage and then blending elements of different genres in fresh ways to brew his own signature blend of contemporary acoustic music that was at once rootsy and sophisticated.

Artie’s appetite for diverse musical ideas stretched far and wide, and his wonderful way with people invited creative collaborations with some of the world’s finest musicians along the way, bringing exotic flavors to his music. Beyond his work as a singer-songwriter, Artie donned many other musical hats during his career, among them session player, producer, bandleader, arranger, film/TV composer, video producer, teacher, radio host and writer. One might call Artie a modern day Renaissance man; of course, if Artie were around, he’d probably fire back a self-deprecating zinger without missing a beat and crack everyone up. You can read more about Artie’s career here.

In 1999, Artie joined the Taylor clinician program, which proved to be a great fit for his talents. Beyond his musical versatility, Artie was an entertaining and witty storyteller, an encouraging guitar instructor, and ever-gracious in his exchanges with people during and after a workshop. Whether sharing the secrets of DADGAD tuning or breaking down blues licks or jazz chords, Artie always left people with a warm feeling and a smile, as many of you who attended his workshops can surely attest.

For several years, our “Artie Traum and Friends” set on the Taylor stage at the Winter NAMM show was a perennial centerpiece of Taylor’s Winter NAMM show performances, packing the room and bringing down the house. Although Artie was perched center stage, performing his own material, and serving as bandleader, it was the ego-free way he allowed his all-star musical cast — including regulars Jeff Pevar on guitar, Scott Petito on bass, Neil Wilkinson on drums, and occasionally, John Sebastian on harp — to coalesce around him that made the sets memorable.

Artie’s life was rich with friendships and love, and he lived with complete integrity. For those of us fortunate enough to have known him, his spirit was an inspiring example of how fulfilling life can be when filled with great people, great conversation, great food, and great music.

Our deepest condolences go out to Artie’s wife Beverly, Artie’s brother Happy and his wife Jane, and to the rest of their family. You’ll be deeply missed by many, Artie. We hope you’re jamming with your musical heroes in the great beyond.

You’re invited to visit www.artietraum.com, where you can read or post messages in remembrance of Artie’s life. A memorial celebration of Artie’s life will be held on Thursday, July 24 at 2 p.m. at the Bearsville Theater on Rt. 212, approximately two miles west of Woodstock, New York. For directions, the theater’s website is www.bearsvilletheater.com.

You can also view a video clip of some of Artie’s Taylor performances here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JuDln63BhU.

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