Friday, June 23, 2006

The Bible Belt's Country Outlaw

Anyone who has an appreciation for country music owes it to themselves to check out the work of Travis Tritt. He incorporates his many influences from three genres to craft a unique sound. He has admired the work of folk type artists like James Taylor and John Denver, classic country greats like George Jones and Merle Haggard, and southern rock groups like The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Travis always begins his concerts with one of his early hits "Put Some Drive in Your Country." A line in this song says "I made myself a promise, when I was just a kid, I'd mix southern rock and country, and that's just what I did." Another lyric of his says "Man I miss Duane Allman, I wish he was still around". He has replaced this name in the song with Stevie Ray Vaughn and Waylon Jennings over the years, to pay tribute to other heroes of his who are gone. Tritt grew up in Marietta Georgia and started playing guitar at age 8. He wrote his first song at age 14. In 1988 he signed a deal with Warner Brothers records and released his first album, "Country Club" a year later. The release was a huge hit, showcasing Travis' songwriting skills and he was declared top new male artist in 1990 by Billboard magazine. In 1992 he was humbled with the great honor of becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry. The early 1990s was a time of growth for country music and other artists from Tritt's era included Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Joe Diffie and Vince Gill. All of these performers were also inducted into the Opry. Curiously, some great artists who are not Opry members are George Strait, Brooks and Dunn and Alabama, as well as many others. Opry members must perform 20 times per year at the venue, so maybe those like Strait were offered the chance to join, but turned it down due to time commitments. Travis Tritt was instrumental in reuniting The Eagles, and he recorded his own rendition of "Take it Easy". I have seen Travis in concert 4 times, and would see him again in a heartbeat. He is someone who gives 110% at every performance, and he is a magnetic entertainer who seems to love playing for his audiences. He will even perform cover tunes of some of his favorite songs. The last time I saw him he played songs by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Waylon Jennings and even "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi.

Here is a discography of Tritt's albums from oldest to newest. My favorites are his early recordings, from Country Club through Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof.

Country Club
It's all about to Change
A Travis Tritt Christmas/Loving Time of Year
Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof
Greatest Hits-from the Beginning
The Restless Kind
No More Looking Over my Shoulder
Down the Road I Go
Strong Enough
My Honky Tonk History