Unlike a lot of the people you see at the top of the charts today, Travis spent years cutting his and teeth playing his music in dive bars and small venues around the south. He gained invaluable experience in how to play for a live audience by doing that.
Mostly, he learned what types of things he could do on stage and what would really work for him. He noted that, if he decided to cover a Charley Pride or Waylon Jennings song, it always seemed to work. For some reason, George Strait was a no-go when it came to his live shows and how the crowd responded.
Ultimately, it gave him the essential confidence to hold his own when it came to moving to Nashville and signing a record deal:
“Because the first thing that a record label will try to do, in most cases, is they’ll tell you ‘Oh, we love what you do, man, we love what you do. We wanna sign you to a deal.’
And as soon as they sign you to a deal, ‘Well, okay, we wanna change this. We wanna change this about you.’
And it’s like, most people go along with it simply because of the fact that they don’t have anything in their history to stand on to say, ‘Well now wait a minute, I don’t necessarily agree with that. Because I know from personal experience that my audience won’t accept that from me.’
And they just go along with it, and I feel sorry for them, I really do.”
Louder for the people in the back, Travis. Louder for the people in the back…
Of course, there’s still a few of them around today who seem to have that same authenticity, and he’s specifically mentioned artists like Cody Jinks and Luke Combs in the past.
Then, he hits us with the three elements that get his attention when it comes to genuine artists and the music he wants to listen to. It’s pretty incredible advice for anyone trying to make it in the business… plus, I think Travis knows a thing or to about finding success in country music.
There’s a few non-negotiables you have to have, and I think he’s pretty spot on with this advice:
“You know the people that get get my attention, and the people that get my respect, are usually for the most part, there has to be three things.
I like somebody that writes their own material. A songwriter. Or writes most of their own material, I like that.
Also, somebody that can play an instrument proficiently. That gets my attention. That says talent to me.
And then somebody who knows how to go out there on stage and be themselves and not sound like anybody else. You recognize that person right off the bat.”
He also mentions Miranda Lambert as one of those people, and if you don’t have that whole package, you’re probably not going to stand out much in this industry:
“For me, they have to have all three of those elements in order to get my full attention and my full respect.”
I couldn’t agree more. If you think about that advice, along with the aforementioned artists, they seem to have all of that tenfold. It’s exactly why they’re the best of the best.
And, there’s one other thing that’s important in terms of live shows and entertaining audiences:
“I’m impressed by people that can just walk on a stage, no band, just themselves and a guitar, and hold an audience in the palm of their hand for however long they want to.
Very few people can do that in this industry and those people definitely get my respect.”
Just search the word “acoustic” on our website and you’ll find countless examples.
One of my favorite things about any given artist is when they can do just that, though. Strip down a song they wrote by themselves, play an acoustic guitar on stage alone, and bare exactly who they are while the audience is so quiet you could hear a pin drop in the room.
It’s as close a thing to magic as I presume you can really find anymore.
If that ain’t country music, I don’t know what is.
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