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The Coffee House Era (1966-1967)
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Finally home in Boston, Travis was telling his adventures to some friends, when one suggested they go downtown to “Hoot Night” at “The Loft,” then one of Beacon Hill's most popular coffeehouses.  There, performers took turns singing and playing songs and the best of the night won a cash prize.  Travis was right at home in the small room, considerably smaller than the hospital wards he had played for the Red Cross, so he played and sang and told stories — and won a $15.00 cash prize and a future booking, if he wanted it.  A patron upped the offer.  He ran a pub called “King Arthur's,” which he described as “a coffee house with a liquor license.”  The pay was better than any other coffee house in town and Travis would be free to do any kind of show he wanted, as long as the customers were happy.  About that time, another patron stepped forward.  He had a recording studio in Jamaica Plain and wanted to do a demo of Travis' performance to send to his friends in Nashville!  All in all, a pretty good night.

Travis at the Unicorn Coffee House

“King Arthur's” became Travis's “home room,” an informal arrangement that suited both Travis and the owner.  It meant Travis could book himself in to perform whenever he needed to make some money and provided the owner with a steady backup act in an emergency.  When “King Arthur's” failed to renew its liquor license, Travis made the same arrangement with “The Sword In The Stone,” a coffeehouse without a liquor license, run by the same owner on Charles Street at the site of the old “Turk's Head.”  His time in the hospital, strumming on that old Red Cross guitar as he entertained the wounded, served Travis well, as did his growing repertoire of original songs and parodies.


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