"Traum is still infinitely listenable, musically creative and about as good an acoustic folk guitarist as there is...." - Noah Fleisher, Pulse
Happy Traum was smitten by American folk music as a teenager and began playing guitar and 5-string banjo. He was an active participant of the legendary Washington Square/Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1950s and ‘60s, and studied guitar with the famed blues master, Brownie McGhee.
Over the past five decades he has performed extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan, both as a soloist and as a member of various groups. His avid interest in traditional and contemporary music has brought him recognition as a performer, writer, editor, session musician, folklorist, teacher and recording artist.
Happy's first appearance in a recording studio was at a historic session in 1963 when a group of young folk musicians, including Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, Peter LaFarge and The Freedom Singers gathered in Folkways Records' studio for an album called Broadsides. Happy with his group, the New World Singers, cut the first recorded version of "Blowin' In The Wind", and Happy sang a duet with Dylan on his anti-war song "Let Me Die in My Footsteps."
Happy also performed with his brother, Artie Traum, in a duet that, according to Rolling Stone, "defined the Northeast folk music style." Their performances at the 1968 and 1969 Newport Folk Festivals helped to gain them an avid following and a contract with famed manager Albert Grossman. This strong musical partnership lasted until Artie's untimely death in July, 2008.
Happy has written several guitar instruction books (his first was in 1965) and has edited and/or transcribed several more. He was music editor for the historically important Woody Guthrie book, Hard Hitting Songs for Hard Hit People.