Travis Tritt doesn't seem to hold much truck with the honchos in Nashville, preferring to live in Georgia on his plot of land and take control of his career far from the politics of Music Row. It isn't as if he lacks a sense of history; after all, Tritt recently performed in the Grand Ole Opry (where he was inducted in 1992) and participated in that organization's 82nd anniversary celebration.
The last of Tritt's seven platinum (million) selling albums hit the stores in 1996, but his list of Billboard Top Ten singles includes entries as recent as 2002. Those figures don't tell the whole story, though; the full house that showed up to see him perform Thursday night is a better indicator of where he is, what he does and who cares.
Part of the problem and part of the charm of Travis Tritt is that folks who want to put him in one bag (country music) are missing out on the whole person. Yes, he started out country, but Tritt's roots are more of a hybrid, the same kind of musical mutation that began with Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins but which eventually led to Charlie Daniels (Tritt's avowed idol) and some of the newer country studs like Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney.
It's a blend of soul and rock, mixed with the art of country-music story songs, finding its way into Tritt's emotional core. He sings from his heart, winding words past his vocal chords before letting them charge, saunter or crawl out into the open air.
The first song in Tritt's concert ("Put Some Drive In Your Country") was a rockin' powerhouse that took full advantage of four electric guitars (including Tritt's), a bass, a keyboard setup and a full, booming drum kit. While fun, It was tailor made for ear plugs.
After a few more tunes and some rambling, albeit funny, commentary aimed at settling the audience into a groove, Tritt's band melted away from the stage, leaving the star exposed to rise or fall on his own naked talent. It's a good thing that he was up to the task.
First up in this mini-acoustic set was "Anymore," a chance to showcase the singer's ability to pack emotion into lyrics heavy on heartbreak. Then, another song or two down the road, Tritt unleashed some amazing guitar chops in a torrid instrumental that found him picking like the devil and fretting like an angel.
While it is true that Tritt played most of the set with his admirably talented band, the fact that he could operate as a rocker, a lone picker, a country singer and a blue-eyed soul king -- all in one package -- was what really made the show special.