Many musicians grew up in a house of song, but Sonoma County–based guitarist and singer-songwriter Adam Traum still creates music with his father, Happy Traum.
Happy became a figure in the Greenwich Village scene of the ’50s and ’60s, performed with his brother Artie Traum in a popular duo and lived in Woodstock, New York, when Adam was growing up.
“It was an exciting time to be coming of age, there were iconic musicians and visual artists coming around the house, and I was the kid taking it all in,” Adam Traum says.
The younger Traum began playing guitar at age nine with a steady diet of folk and blues in the house. As a teen, he dove deep into rock ’n’ roll and studied jazz guitar. In his 20s, Traum began seriously studying the acoustic guitar after attending MerleFest, a roots-based music festival located in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Now, all those styles of sound come together on Traum’s new album, Legacy.
Available online and on CD, the record is Traum’s most personal output to date, and the 13 tracks all tell stories from his own life and celebrate his family’s musical traditions.
The album’s production began in February of last year, when Happy visited Adam in Sonoma County, where Adam has lived since 2003.
Happy appears on two songs on Legacy, including the album’s title track, in which Adam lyrically recalls musical memories from his childhood.
The father-son pair has performed together onstage and on record before, though Traum says this album’s collaboration is especially meaningful due to the personal material.
“Some guys play catch with their dad, we play guitar,” Traum says. “I feel totally honored and proud to be following in that family tradition, but also, just getting to connect with my dad at that level has strengthened our relationship.”
Other tracks on Legacy demonstrate what Traum calls his musical ADD, with washboards and mandolins that evoke Appalachian music, telecaster guitars that lend classic country-rock vibes and pedal steel guitars that build Southern Blues foundations.
Legacy also tells stories about Traum’s late uncle Artie Traum (“Thanks For Stopping By”), his family’s struggles through the last year of pandemics and wildfires (“Ash on the Windshield”) and his wishes to pass along his love of music to his own teenager.
“This record was also as much about my sanity as anything else,” Traum says. “It allowed me to express myself and it was a chance for me to explore and stretch and see what I could do.”