Country Outlaw Travis Tritt Demonstrates The Power Of One

[Chicago Concert Reviews – Photos by Andy Argyrakis]

Coming from the same country music class of 1989 that birthed Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Clint Black, singer/songwriter/guitarist Travis Tritt sure has his share of multi-platinum albums, Grammy/Country Music Association Awards and lavish concerts surrounding all the above. Though the outlaw artist is still recording and touring almost as regularly, he’s found similar favor from solo acoustic storytelling as he did back in the days of raising hell with a full band.

While a major factor in this tour’s popularity was surely the living room-styled atmosphere that allowed Tritt to casually chat and take a rare special request, his southern meets soulful voice seldom sounded stronger and he was just as defiant as those debut days when it came to carving out a niche beyond Nashville.

In fact, the unplugged format is proving so popular he returned to the sonically re-vamped Star Plaza (a short drive over the Illinois state line in Merrillville, Indiana) for the third time and made sure it was quite the charm across two hours. While a major factor was surely the living room-styled atmosphere that allowed Tritt to casually chat and take a rare special request, his southern meets soulful voice seldom sounded stronger and he was just as defiant as those debut days when it came to carving out a niche beyond Nashville.

After plowing through a plethora of hits (“Where Corn Don’t Grow,” “I’m Gonna Be Somebody,” “Lord Have Mercy On The Working Man”), the lone man on stage made one of his strongest statements with “Country Ain’t Country,” a rebuke for foolish musical choices that was even written “long before rap was in country.” As the set continued, Tritt’s purest leanings became even more apparent, especially when talking about his 12-year friendship with Waylon Jennings and saluting the late great with “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” and many others within a medley.

That traditional approach also applied to his own craftsmanship, whether it was the clever “Here’s A Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares),” the cheeky “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’” (originally a duet with fellow preservationist Marty Stuart) or the ode to outsiders “Lone Wolf.” Toss in a whole lotta “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” with “Modern Day Bonnie And Clyde,” and the honky-tonk historian who was fortunate enough to call George Jones, Johnny Cash and Little Jimmy Dickens pals pumped some sensible air back into a genre so caught up in commercialism, it often looses sight of the satisfaction that comes with throwing the rule book out the window.

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