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The Jesters (1959)
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In 1959, at the age of 14, Travis was sought out by some kids from Natick, Massachusetts. They had a rock 'n' roll band, but they needed a singer to get jobs. They had heard Travis could sing and wanted to know if he would audition for the group. Why they came all the way from Natick to Newton to ask Travis to join their band remains a mystery to this day. Who told them Travis could sing? It really doesn't matter. The band rehearsed a few times, mostly to discover which songs they knew in common and what key Travis would sing them in, and suddenly, they had a gig. They needed a name. Travis does not remember who came up with “The Jesters,” but “The Court Jester,” starring Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Cecil Parker, Angela Landsbury and Mildred Natwick was one of Travis's all time favorite movies, a medieval comedy - adventure featuring a large ensemble cast, plenty of musical numbers and a brilliantly convoluted plot.
I'm Just A Lonely Boy” A Catholic Church in Needham (conveniently half way between Natick and Newton), booked “The Jesters” for a “sock hop” to be held Friday night in the church basement. The band was to be paid $5.00 (for gasoline). The evening started slowly, with kids drifting in and out, but by the end of the night, they had a full house. The astonished priest who ran the affair had never seen anything like it and paid the band $20.00 dollars on the spot. He explained that the church had a strict policy that once kids paid the $1.00 admission fee, they could not leave the sock hop or they would have to pay again to get back in. The idea was to discourage kids from sneaking out for drinks or other mischief. But what happened was that the first kids to come had left to return with all their friends, bringing in the biggest crowd ever.  Some had paid as many as three times to go in and out to fetch friends they knew would not want to miss hearing the new band. “The Jesters” happily divided the money, $8.00 to the kid who had borrowed his mother's car to get them to and from the gig and $4.00 apiece for the rest of the band, which they immediately spent at the local HoJo's where they rehashed the wonders of their first gig late into the night.
Ain't That A Shame” In all, the band may have performed twice more (at least once at an Oddfellow's Lodge, memorable because Travis had never heard of them, before), but never in Newton. Travis was still outré in his new home town, but he was learning from his experiences.  He learned it was important to play out of town, where you could be judged on your performance, not by who you knew.  He learned he was comfortable performing, interacting with complete strangers from the inviolate safety of the stage.  And he learned he could sing.  Not only could he mimic most pop stars' styles exactly, he could stylize songs to suit himself and the kids really liked it!  Then, as suddenly as it had begun, it was all over. “The Jesters” were no more.  The oldest boy, whose mother had let him drive her car, a critical necessity for rehearsals as well as gigs, had found a girl friend!
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