Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Festy Experience 2014

Inspired by my bandmate Chris Pandolfi's Insiders Guide to Festy Five, I put together a list of bands I'm stoked to see at The Festy in a few weeks.

New Mastersounds
My favorite band on Jamcruise, I'm thrilled to see the English fellas get funky in Nelson County. On a boat full of funk, this rhythm section rose to the top.

Keller Williams and More Than A Little
This is the best Keller side project, totally kick ass.

David Wax Museum
Played a show on bass with David and Suz last spring, had this song in my head ever since.

Shameless, I know, but I think my new band with my wife, songwriter Sarah Siskind, and our drummer Brian Caputo is absolutely rockin'.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


So far 2014 is off to a roaring start. It started with a legendary New Years Celebration in Richmond at the National. 4 bands a night for two nights, our first time away from Rooster as a couple and some great trail running by the river. Immediately thereafter we headed for Jamcruise, an on-boat celebration that can only be described as epic (that most overused word). Funk for days, beach drinks, legs sore from dancing and success on the blackjack tables. Two nights in Athens at the Georgia Theater followed, the 'Dusters are sounding as good as we've ever sounded, in my opinion. I woke up the next morning at 7:30 for a marathon drive to Nelson County by way of Nashville.

Monday, January 13th my solo record, Alice, arrived. I had a couple hundred envelopes to stuff but no time to stuff them so I wedged in addressing between everything else that was going on that week. Tuesday Peter and I embarked on our first Stageit show, Live from Monkeyclaus, which proved to be a huge success. Wednesday through Friday I was in Monkeyclaus helping my friend Gary Broyles start a record, the first in his long life, with Sons of Bill members Sam Wilson and Todd Wellens. Thursday night I played Staunton then hung out with the Staunton Crew led by Nathan Moore. Friday I made an appearance on WTJU radio, recording an hour long solo show that can still be streamed from their website. Saturday I played Devils Backbone Brewing Company and thus ended one of the busiest music weeks of my life.

Sunday I watched the Broncos go to the Super Bowl. Gigs in Waynesboro and at Fardowners in Crozet followed. Yesterday I got up to Wintergreen to ski for the 4th time this month, the legs are getting stronger but I know I'm going to get crushed on Ski Tour, it happens every time. Today I'm pulling double duty with a 3 hour gig at Blue Mountain Barrel House followed by an opening set with the Farewell Drifters at Kirk Avenue in Roanoke, VA.

I'm thrilled to be playing in the David Wax Museum next Tuesday at The Southern Cafe this Tuesday, January 28. I'll open solo then join David, Suz and Sam Wilson for a set of David's unique music. Finally, I do an afternoon set at Democracy Vineyards the first of February and thus end one of the busiest, most interesting and diverse months of music so far in this life. Thank you life and thank you Virginia!

Monday, December 2, 2013

My Debut Solo Record: Alice

It was 2001, I had only just discovered bluegrass music and Yonder Mountain String Band was my favorite band. I’d heard stories about a songwriter named Benny Galloway, whom everyone called Burle, who had been responsible for helping that band get started and writing some of my favorite songs. Somehow I’d ended up at a picking party in Durango, the first of what was to become the centerpiece of my musical life, and I was hovering around the edge of the jam, watching it unfold. A song ended and the bass player yelled, “anyone else know how to play this thing?” Someone pointed to me and the bass player turned, smiled, and handed me the instrument, the first time I’d ever touched an upright bass. I was face to face with Burle.

Thus began a long, deep friendship and apprenticeship with the single most influencial musician in my life. Writing sessions, rehearsals, gigs, tours and picking parties, whenever Burle was on the scene, he had his guitar, Alice, slung over his shoulder. She became as much a part of my musical education as the man himself. He gave her credit for the songs they wrote, for 20 years the two of them collaborated to create some of the best music I’ve ever heard. A few years ago Burle finally felt that he’d pulled all he could from Alice and put her away. When I heard a rumor that Burle was considering selling her to finance an upright bass, I called him and offered a trade, only temporary, for my old Miesel, the instrument I’d owned and played during that era.

This is how I became caretaker of the most mythical instrument in my world. I’d decided to experiment with playing solo shows and Alice became my guitar of choice. As I played Alice, the songs Burle had taught me and the songs we’d written together kept bubbling to the surface, flowing out of the old Martin D-35 and becoming the centerpiece of my solo repertoire, in so many ways defining my sound. These songs are a part of our shared history, this record a gift for Alice and Burle, a window into my past and a collection of songs that will always remind me of those years with Burle.

Today is the launch of the pre-order campaign, you can purchase a copy here. It'll ship in January prior to the Release Date of January 14th.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Ah Thanksgiving, how I adore your simple mission. Let us all take a day, just one day, to be thankful for what we have, for who we have and for another year of life. Wait, what's this? The consumption machine wants us to go shopping instead? But isn't that the antithesis of what this one day of 365 is about? How could we let this happen?

Thanksgiving, we're sorry. You deserve better. Here, then, is my Thanksgiving prayer, in honor of the greatest Holiday that has ever or ever could be conceived.

Thank you, God, whatever you are. The Great Life Force that moves everything has been good to me this year and I will continue to seek harmony with it. I'm thankful for so much this year, the year of my daughters birth and my fifth anniversary of marriage to the most wonderful woman in the world. I live a privileged life with a beautiful family, a nice home in a perfect spot, meaningful work, a reasonable schedule, and good health. I'm so thankful for the abundance in my life, and to further my sense of abundance, I intend over the next year to continue to simplify and hone in on my personal mission. My possessions will become fewer, but of higher quality and usefulness. More doing, less screen time. I'm thankful that I have skills and I will demonstrate my thankfulness by putting them to good use.

Thanks again, Travis

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Is music an endangered species?

We all know all about the issue with the selling of music. "Music is free" the artists shout, "how can we keep making it if we don't get paid for it?" And they're right, you know.

But there's something bigger and even more ominous than the "freeing" of music. People just don't engage with music like they used to. Music is not near the center of our cultural sphere anymore. Social media and television, iphones and video games have taken center stage. After a long day of meaningless work (I have written and will continue to write at length about this subject) the sheeple head home to plop down in front of their TV to watch Top Chef while they browse Facebook. I know this is what we do because this is, very often, what happens in my house. There was a time, arguably before I was born, before computers got awesome and television really figured out how to get us to watch advertisements, when music was everything to a lot of people. A new record came out and it was THE THING that everyone talked about. There were Black Friday-like lines at record stores for Led Zeppelin II and live music was something that everyone engaged in.

I'm optimistic. In my career, specifically as part of The Stringdusters, I continue to see more people out at the shows and every well run, well intentioned festival continues to grow. I may be wrong about this endangered species thing, actually. But I have a sense that ours may be the last generation that craves music, that needs the kind of experience and community that you get from being a fan.

What is to be done? We need to spread the word, turn our family, friends and co-workers on to what moves us, drag the couch culture out of the house and drop them in the front row of our favorite band and make a habit of going out to see music at local venues. Perhaps more importantly, we need to get our children stoked about music, it should be part of their culture. Let's cultivate music, help it grow and make it better, before it vanishes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Road to Boulder

The Stringdusters have just released an EP, Road to Boulder, to benefit flood victims from the September flood in Colorado.  The song Road to Boulder features the incomparable Bruce Hornsby on accordion and the EP includes three songs recorded at Bluegrass Underground.  This is an easy way to help those in need and get some good music in your ears.

The Road to Boulder Tour kicks off December 4th with stops in Columbus, Madison, and Lawrence before two nights at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colorado.  The road FROM Boulder goes through Austin, Fayetteville, Chattanooga, Chapel Hill and Wilmington.  Full details and tickets available at

Monday, November 11, 2013

Honduran Goodbye

"People are thrilled that you showed up, but no one really cares that you’re leaving."

In my circles we call it the Honduran Goodbye.  I hadn't ever thought about it being derogatory, as it's actually a really thoughtful, considerate, and efficient thing to do.  A friend forwarded this great blog post, I won't be redundant, I'll just drop you a link.