Hump Day Pick-Me-Up
Merle Travis and Thom Bresh from Nashville Swing circa 1980
Cannonball Rag and Who’s Sorry Now
Travis was so revered for his unique style of fingerpicking, with the thumb providing a constant sing-song, or “alternate” bass part, while his index finger played the complex melody, that all such picking is now known as “Travis picking.” Although his technique evolved out of the style developed in Western Kentucky, he took it in a new and more advanced direction.
Travis actually uses only his first finger for almost all of his melody playing, while other players have adopted his style to use the two, three, and even four fingers, while retaining the thumbed bass line. Travis was a direct influence on the playing styles of guitarists such as Chet Atkins, Paul Simon, Leo Kottke, and James Taylor.
Thom Bresh is Travis’ son and was a child actor and stuntman on television before embracing the musical talent inherited from his famous father. He remains an avid proponent of Travis’ artistic legacy, teaching and performing his father’s technique and music, as well as his own impressive contributions to modern fingerstyle guitar.