Blues Bucket Tour: Thom Travisano's Blues Pilgramage Leads Him to Phoenix
Okay, okay -- Travisano never actually claimed to be on a mission from God when I met with him Sunday afternoon at his short term lease, motel-style apartment in Mesa, but the man has a undeniable zeal for the blues. It's this love for music that inspired him to set on on what he calls his Blues Bucket Tour, a cross-country trip where he hopes to document the current state of the blues.
Life took Travisano away from Arizona, to Oregon. He worked for years as an operating engineer, later getting his RN license. "I hit fifty and realized I wanted to do something with my life," he says.
He decided to embark on his blues tour came after purchasing a small handheld recorder, which he used to document modern blues players in Oregon.
"I needed to do my tour now, while I still can," he says, now 61. His first stop was where he discovered the blues, Phoenix. While here, he's recorded events at The Rhythm Room and Goat Head Saloon.
With maps spread out across a table, and his small apartment littered with reference books, Travisano plots out his intended route through New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana, traveling down the I-10 and Highway 61, hoping to eventually retrace the original Delta blues trail.
"I'm just going to wonder and ponder," he says of his initial trip, which he sees as a fact finding mission, and he intends to retrace his steps when he's done with updated equipment to achieve "a more targeted documentary [with] multimedia involvement."
Travisano reached out with a desire to share some of the recordings he's made here in Phoenix. The following recordings from from the Chico Chism Birthday Bash, held on May 21 at The Rhythm Room. Chism played with Howlin' Wolf and Big Joe Turner (among others), and was a friend of Rhythm Room owner Bob Corritore. Traviasno loved the show, and shared with Up on the Sun some recordings from the event, including songs by The Rocket 88's and George Thomas & The Flamekeepers. "I'm a huge fan of Rocket 88's guitarist Dave Forster," says Travisano.
"I got into the blues a long time ago," Travisano says. "I remember saying back in 1980, 'blues is the music of the working man,' and this country is going to need it." With a weary nod, Travisano makes it clear: the same is true now.