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Francis Duxbury III of The Travelin' Moburys: "I just do it"
At the ripe old age of however old he is with a mane of flowing grey hair and a handsome, weathered face–Francis Duxbury III is blossoming. Caught him in June with the rest of his country trio Travelin’ Moburys (Bill Travers and Laura Moe) at Minnesota Music Café. For the first time in roughly a year. His style is easy to get along with on record–check out Hide Me with Travers and The Travelin’ Moburys’ Yesterday’s Wine or performing live. As well, he and his fellow Moburys (they got Travelin’ from Travers, Mo from Moe and bury from Duxbury) are up on YouTube. Francis Duxbury III is the very essence of laid back. With gentle authority. Think Kris Kristofferson. Except on key.
The guy’s always had chops but his songwriting is sweeter than ever and he’s singing stronger. That’s as a musician. As one of the boys, he hasn’t changed a bit. Still gracious with a pleasant way about him you could warm yourself to like a campfire. Generous with his bar tab, too. After a fine set with Bill Travers and Laura Moe, he hunkered down with me over the tape recorder and drinks. Travers wandered by and called him over to join in on the chat. Which is exactly what it was, no need for formality. Anytime you’re around Duxbury, he’s simply going be himself. An easy-going guy who talks of the cuff. Starting with a general, fairly alarmed inquiry as to the whereabouts of his brand new pack of smokes. “I don’t know what happened to my cigarettes. Just bought ‘em. I’m a poor musician.” As he wanders back to the bar on a dedicated mission, Traves mutters with a smile, “Guy’s got more money than God.” Duxbury responds, “God doesn’t really have anything to spend it on, does He?” Typical banter between those two who’ve been friends and professional associates since around the invention of dirt. Duxbury’s wife Deb found his cigarette and we settled down to shoot the breeze.
How did you get started songwriting?
I really, really honest to God don’t know. All of a sudden, I was about 17 years old. Picked up a piece of paper and started writing words down. Didn’t know where they were coming from [but] said, “This is pretty good.” Kept writing words until I started playing guitar. Waited until I was 24 to put them to [music]. And the words just kept coming. Friends of mine said, “It’s pretty good.” I’ve told Bill I don’t know how many times [that] I have no idea how it happened. I just do it.
When did you learn guitar?
Well, I took four lessons from a guy name Billy McGlaughlin. Back in July of 1977. That’s the first man who taught me how to play guitar. I take a few lessons from him and he said just go out write and have a good time. I got my first guitar when I got married for the first time as a wedding present. From a really good friend of mine. Was pretty bad at it, but the words made up for it.
I was solo for a long time. Fifteen years I was solo until I found a group where I fit in and they said, “Yeah, you can do originals.” I’m actually a lyricist more than anything else. I play guitar to go along with my words. Friend of mine, keyboard player, he called me “Word Man.” He said, “Do the words. We’ll figure out the music. I did a couple of duos for a while. One was called White Dux. The guy’s name was White and I was Duxbury, so, we went with White Dux. For a while. The best group I’ve ever been in ever, ever, hands down is The Travelin’ Moburys. These two are some of the greatest people I’ve worked with in my whole life. Not only are they great people, they’re great musicians. And they love my originals.
Your writing and singing have strengthened in the last year.
I think the reason is because the Moburys have been playing three, four times a week.
Yeah, well, that’ll do it.
We’re out there regularly and I’ve got to play lot with it. And find out where I want it to go. Finally figured out, “Hey, I like that.” I’ll probably change it next week. ‘Cause I get bored. Sometimes. I have to change up the chops a little bit, change up the vocals a little bit. Just to keep it interesting for me.
Photo courtesy The Travelin' Moburys
499 Payne Ave
St Paul, MN 55130
501 Payne Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55130