One of the things that makes a true professional a professional is how they respond to the unexpected, and Travis Tritt shinned when things went south mid show last Saturday (Nov. 22), but we’ll get to that later.
Travis brought his seven piece band to Harrah’s Lake Tahoe’s South Shore Room and sold it out. As I’ve said before, I’m not really a country music fan, but there are more and more country artists who seem to infuse elements of rock and roll and blues into their style and that makes it more appealing to me. If the number of country based programs on TV lately (award shows, Christmas Specials, etc.) is any indication, then I’m not the only one being swayed.
The band started off with a high powered trio of tunes (Put Some Drive In Your Country, High Time for Getting’ Down, and I’m Gonna Be Somebody) that got the crowd into it early, which was made apparent by their enthusiasm. Travis took a moment here to talk to the crowd and make sure that they came to party.
As far as his stage presence was concerned Travis didn’t hold back at all. His smile was never far from his face. When it left, it was back shortly. He shimmied and shook, kicked up his heels (literally), and even did that guitar player move where his top half is playing the guitar and his bottom half is doing jumping jacks. I think if I tried that there may need to be a call made to an orthopedist.
About 30 minutes into the show Travis was sitting center stage in a raised nicely cushioned chair that his stage manager rolled out, playing Tell Me I was Dreaming on acoustic guitar when all the sudden, the house audio went out. There was still some sound on the stage so you could hear a little bit, but the PA which fills the South Shore Room was silent. The band did not miss a beat. They kept on playing as if nothing had happened. In the back of the room I could see the sound board guys frantically surveying their board looking for an answer. Soon the audience started singing along. When they finished the song the band got a standing ovation.
“I understand that there’s been a problem,” Travis said with a smile. He also made a joke, that due to no PA sound I didn’t hear. His band left the stage, and Travis kept playing his acoustic guitar. He deviated from the set list and played Bob Seger’s Night Moves, and then a fantastic blues number written by Buddy Guy that he has on his album “t-r-o-u-b-l-e” called Leave My Girl Alone. This was not planned. It was all adlibbed by Travis on the spot without missing a step. It felt like we were all sitting in his living room while he played us a couple tunes. During Leave My Girl Alone the sound came back on. When that ended he moved seamlessly into Anymore which was on the set list as an acoustic number.
This made a perfect segue for the band to return to the stage. They kicked back in with South Bound Train, an up tempo song filled with solos on guitar, fiddle, and keyboards. The whole interruption and return couldn’t have gone better if it was planned. Another oddity during this stretch of the show was when a fan jumped up on the stage and ran over to Travis. Two large men from the wings immediately ran over and “assisted” the fan out. It looked like he was bringing Travis a drink, but you just don’t jump up on the stage. Travis barely blinked.
Along with a lot of his own songs Travis played songs by The Eagles, Gregg Allman, and he paid tribute to one of his heroes, Waylon Jennings, by playing Ain’t Livin Long Like This and Trouble Man, both by Mr. Jennings.
Travis and his band put on a really good show. They served up loads of quality musicianship, miles of smiles, and plenty of country comfort. The way they handled the audio mishap was magnificent (The Magnificent Seven?!).
When the dust settles, there’s one thing I’m sure of. A lot of this country music is pretty dang good! Now I’m not gonna go out and buy me no cowboy boots and start learnin no line dancin’ or nothing,’ but I’m sure as shootin’ gonna pay attention to more of these talented folk goin’ forward. Anyway…
Nick McCabe is the editor of Front Row Photo. Take a look: CLICK