Before Friday’s solo acoustic performance, I was already well aware of what a talented singer, songwriter and musician Travis Tritt is. What I didn’t know is that the Georgia native is also one heck of a storyteller.
In fact, I described the show to my colleagues as being akin to an episode of VH1 Storytellers. Tritt sat alone onstage in front of a packed house at the Cabot Performing Arts Center, sharing acoustic versions of his songs while telling the audience about his memories and experiences of working his way to stardom in Nashville.
There were no frills and no backup band, just Tritt and his guitar, which he introduced as his “much smaller band.” And that’s really all The Cabot audience wanted or needed Friday night.
Having broke onto the country music scene nearly 30 years ago, Tritt has racked up his fair share of hits. And he played a fair share of them during his two-hour set.
Kicking things off with “It’s All About The Money” from his 2004 My Honky Tonk History album, Tritt eventually worked his way through several of his early ’90s hits like “I’m Gonna Be Somebody” and “Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man,” as well as “Best of Intentions,” from 2000.
Tritt’s voice hadn’t changed one iota since I sang along to his tunes on the radio 20-some odd years ago.
Interspersing songs from his debut album throughout the show, Tritt shared the story of his arrival in Nashville, sporting long hair and wearing T-shirts with the sleeves cut off and tattered jeans, all while carrying around a briefcase.
In that briefcase, Tritt said were songs he had written should he ever land a record deal. When he finally did, Tritt pulled some songs out of there to help fill an album. And he continued to pull songs from the briefcase for the next five albums, as well.
Tritt also shared the story of how he joined Twitter, knowing full well being able to say whatever he wants 24-7-365 may not be the best idea. A few weeks into his social media experience, Tritt said he found himself in some trouble.
“All I said was the country music of today does not sound country to me,” Tritt said, recalling how he heard from many more folks who disagreed with his opinion than who agreed. “And I thought, ‘this Twitter thing is for real.’”
The tale of that incident was the perfect transition into Tritt’s performance of “Country Ain’t Country,” which included the controversial verse “You turn CMT on, and you wonder what for. Country ain’t country no more.” Tritt has claimed the line was part of the original composition, but was cut out for political correctness.
Throughout the second half of his set, Tritt paid homage to several of his heroes, including Bobby Bare and Jerry Reed, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and The Beatles, performing covers of their songs.
To close out the show, Tritt played three of his biggest hits, “It’s A Great Day to Be Alive,” “Modern Day Bonnie And Clyde” an
d “T-R-O-U-B-L-E,” and had the crowd singing along with every line.
Though Tritt had said goodnight, thanked the audience for being so great and left the stage, everyone remained standing and applauding in hopes he would return to dazzle them with an encore. Sure enough, he obliged; but, instead of playing another of his songs, Tritt opted to cover Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.”
The only song Tritt didn’t perform that I was secretly hoping he would was “Tell Me I Was Dreaming,” which is one of my all-time favorites.
Seeing Tritt perform live has been a long time coming for me.
I worked for a country music festival in Cadott, Wis., for five or six summers during my late teens and early 20s, so I was able to catch a number of artists perform. Tritt was one of the few I had really wanted to see, but was never able. So having him take the stage at a venue four blocks from my house was simply an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
And, even sans band, he did not disappoint.