portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting portland metro

arts and culture

Kate Powers wins the grand prize for "Travis John"!

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Artichoke, Kate Power & Steve Einhorn, for making it to the top ten of the "Music to Life" Songwriting Contest at the Kerrville Folk Festival, and then today, bringing home the grand prize for Kate's song "Travis John"! The top prize of $1,000.00 will be donated to Lynn Bradach's Adopt-A-Minefield organization. In addition to winning today's competition, Kate and Steve will get the opportunity to perform "Travis John" at tonight's Peter Yarrow and Noel "Paul" Stookey concert.
Travis John
Travis John

"Travis John," speaks to the grief of war and the heroic idealism of America's youth. Travis John Bradach-Nall was one of the first Oregonians killed in Iraq (July 2, 2003). "Travis John" captured the attention of local media, who responded with newspaper articles and radio airplay. A special feature on Oregon ArtBeat (OPB) told the story of the song, the boy, and the studio where it all came together: "Travis John" was unknowingly recorded in the studio that was built by the boy the song was written for.

Travis was a drummer. He loved music, his family and his life.

The Public Domain Foundation was created by Noel "Paul" Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary to disburse royalties from the "Wedding Song" to benefit social causes around the world. The "Music to Life" contest promotes music for social change. "Travis John" has been selected as a finalist in the 2006 contest and on June 2, 2006, Kate Power & Steve Einhorn will play "Travis John" in the Threadgill Theatre at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. Their son, Ben, will graduate from Grant High School, Travis' alma mater, on that same day.

Kate wrote "Travis John" while at Fishtrap on the day their neighbor, young Cpl. Travis John Bradach-Nall, one of the first Oregonians killed in Iraq, was buried in Portland. "Travis John" became the first cut on "Pearls: A Tribute Collection" and a feature in "Sing Out!" magazine. Kate & Steve were a favorite on Garrison Keillor's live broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion" from Bend, and have shared stages with many of the great folksingers of our time, including Tom Paxton, Eric Andersen, Odetta, Kate MacKenzie, Arlo Guthrie, Robin & Linda Williams, Pete Seeger and Utah Phillips.

The Story of "Travis John"...

"I was sitting outside our workshop cabin on the last day of summer at Fishtrap, a writers retreat on Lake Wallowa, picking a gentle riff on my little banjo when a doe and her yearling walked slowly by me. News of the memorial of our neighbor, Travis John Bradach-Nall, was on the front page of the Oregonian that morning and the waves of shock and sadness were rolling beneath my skin. The song stayed with me until it was finished. It was very simple, a folksong. Steve and I played it in tribute to Travis and his family that night at the open mic in the main lodge. It was the rough cut, first sung version but the words and melody were all there. The next morning, we received such a fierce and tender response from so many of the writers that we felt compelled to take "Travis John" further out in the world. We recorded it two weeks later only to find out much later that the studio we chose, "Big Red" in Corbett at the mouth of the Columbia Gorge had been built by Travis and his uncle a few short years before. This is that kind of song, that kind of story. It's about the deep connection that makes the ingredients of life happen, makes us who we are and creates such a void when we go. This is a song that addresses the integrity, honor, innocence and love motivating the young soldier we grieve. It's honest. The media has not let us feel what's happening in Iraq. This song does. It's difficult to sing it, it's hard to hear it but we all feel it, no matter what side we're on." - Kate Power

"Travis John" is a song Kate Power wrote and performed with Steve Einhorn to create their "Pearls" album in Travis' memory. "Travis John" has been selected as a top-ten finalist in the Music to Life contest sponsored by Noel 'Paul' Stookey and the Public Domain Foundation. The 10 finalists will sing their "songs that make a difference in the world" at the Threadgill Theater hosted by Noel 'Paul' Stookey at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas on June 2, 2006. If "Travis John" wins, the award will go to Adopt-A-Minefield in memory of Travis. "Travis John" wins by being invited to be sung on this Texan stage.

"Travis John" is a Portland song. Travis graduated from Grant High School. Music was one of Travis' main passions. "Travis John" is being sung in Kerrville on the same day our youngest son, Ben graduates from Grant High. Travis' mom, Lynn Bradach, will be there when Ben gets his diploma. We are thankful to all of you who continue to show us your support as we take "Travis John" to Texas. We will sing it to bring the troops home, to end the war and to remember the precious lives of our children through this song.

"I wrote "Travis John" on the day they buried Portlander and marine, Cpl. Travis John Bradach-Nall. Travis was killed the week before by a landmine on July 2 in Iraq. He was 21. One of the first Oregonians to lose his life there, his family and neighbors in Portland mourned as they buried their local son while this song came to life on a banjo deep in the Wallowas." - Kate Power

"Pearls" CD liner notes...
"Travis John Bradach-Nall lived in our neighborhood. He graduated in our son's high school class. He joined the marines for noble reasons. Travis was killed by a land mine in Iraq on July 2, 2003. He was 21 years old.

We are all connected in the fabric of life. When we heard of Travis' death, it felt like the death of one of our own. He joined the marines to be the best he could be in troubled times. The oldest boy in his family with his mother, Lynn and his brother, Nic, Travis had everything a parent could hope for in a son. It was terrible to lose him with his whole life still waiting for him.

Deep in the Wallowa Mountains of eastern Oregon I wrote this song. I was teaching at a writer's retreat with Steve. It was July 10, 2003. I remember because I'm one of eight children and that's my mother's birthday. I was feeling a strong sadness for Travis and his family knowing that his memorial was being held back home in Portland that day. They said 7 limosines carried the members of his large family to the memorial. Playing on my banjo with the deer grazing near me outside the cabin where I taught songwriting at Fishtrap, a song started up in one direction but, as often happens, this song came out instead.

I felt then, and I still feel, that this song came from Travis, that it really is his song and it's sung in his voice. I just sang it out loud for him. It doesn't matter which side of the war you stand on, the loss left is just as deep for the ones who loved their young soldier. We give this song to Travis' mother, Lynn and his brother, Nic, along with the rest of his kin who loved him and will miss him being here.

Steve and I recorded this song to lead a small collection of songs we've sung over the years and recorded on various albums. We recorded "Travis John" at Big Red Studio on August 3, 2003. We wanted it on record to send to radio stations and homes all around the country. We spent a day recording it, Steve and me with Billy, the engineer, at the board.

The next time we saw Billy he had a "spooky" story to tell us. Word had gone out about Travis' song and Travis' uncle Frank called Billy to remind him that Travis had been on his crew and had actually helped him build "Big Red Studio" a few short years ago. Travis John's uncle was the foreman who built Billy's studio. Billy was stunned. He remembered Travis well; hammer in hand and a grin on his face. He was a good worker. Suddenly, more pieces came together, our communion with this song grew in another way we couldn't have predicted. Coming full circle we manifested his song in the studio Travis had helped to build.

We hope that by releasing Travis John's song into the world, he will be remembered, for the difference he made, for the ones he loved and left behind, as well as the rest of us stangers who have come to know him in the wake of his young life."
- Kate Power