By Sue White | For MLive.com
SAGINAW, MI – The red carpet’s rolling out again at the Temple Theatre, this time welcoming Grammy Award-winning country singer Travis Tritt and his full-band production to the restored movie palace.
The voice behind “Country Club,” “Tell Me I Was Dreaming” and “Help Me Hold On” performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30, at the theater at 203 N. Washington. Tickets, available at the box office, by calling 989-754-SHOW and online at templetheatre.com, cost $75, $55 and $45.
In one of his earliest interviews with The Saginaw News, Tritt told how, as much as he appreciated his fans’ love of his 1991 hit, “Here’s a Quarter,” he hoped they’d leave their quarters in their pockets.
A hailstorm of quarters, not matter how lovingly thrown, still sting, he said before his 1992 show at the Midland County Fair.
Showing still another side, Tritt made his way backstage at the KCQ Country Music Fest in 2009 to give an encouraging word to the local band playing the side stage during set changes.
As his latest tour makes its way to Saginaw, Tritt sent a few insights on his 25 years in the business and how life has changed along the way.
Q: It’s been 25 years since “Country Club” put you on the charts. What keeps you going?
A: One of the things is my voice. It doesn’t sound like anyone else; there’s a unique quality to it. Vince Gill, Garth Brooks. Alan Jackson and others who came out around the same time sounded a lot different from one another, too. It’s kept us rooted all these years
And music is a soundtrack to all the things happening around us. What keeps it fresh and different for me is watching the hits take audiences back to a special place in their lives.
Q: What can we expect when you hit the stage at the Temple Theatre?
A: We play nothing but the solid hits, going all the way back to “Country Club” in 1989. Our fans really enjoy that. There’s a big ball of energy that our audience sends to the stage and we send it right back at them.
Q: You have some of the most loyal fans in the business. How do you build that kind of relationship?
A: We use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to make people aware of what’s going on. But it’s really been interesting to see how that’s grown in a relatively short time, a year and a half, to more than a million likes.
Q: What stands out for you when you look back on your career?
A: I always wanted to be an artist that goes out and performs but I never ever imagined it would become as big as it has. This is a tremendous gift, a tremendous blessing. I can’t imagine ever thinking of retirement; that word isn’t in my vocabulary. I’m blessed to be doing what God put me on this earth to do.
Q: Any favorite songs? Any stories behind the music?
A: That’s like asking me which one of my kids I like best. I’ve played the same songs thousands of times through the years but the audience’s response makes them new every night. The way they react to “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” makes it fresh again.
Most of my songs are self-explanatory. The biggest thing is to be able to connect, to give fans songs that make them say, “That guy must be reading my mail.” That’s because they’re true to my personal experiences. I wrote “Here’s a Quarter” in 15 minutes after I was served my second set of divorce papers in a very short time. I was ready; she called me to say we were going into this too soon. Too much water had gone under the bridge. Here’s a quarter; call someone who cares.
Q: Country music changed a lot since you came aboard. What do today’s emerging artists face in the business?
A: It’s so much harder to break into the business and make a living at it. We’re all just trying to get the music out there the best way we can. With the Internet and social media, there’s a lot of opportunity but you’re not going to see a lot of revenue. It’s a very, very, very competitive market today.
Q: How do you find time for family and friends?
A: When I first became a father, when my daughter was born in 1998, I took about two years away from touring and stayed home with her. I saw her first steps; I heard her first words. It showed me how important family really is. I’m proud to say in booking tours and concerts that I’ve never missed a birthday party or a major holiday. I’ve got the best of both worlds, but family is going to be the lasting and most important thing in my life.
Q: You have three children. Are any of them interested in going into the business?
A: My daughter and two sons are all very talented in their own right. They enjoy all different kinds of music. My daughter sings with me on occasion and my oldest son, who does play guitar, is very interested in the production side of the business. They give me a tremendous sense of pride and I’ve told them I’ll help them as much as I can.