Review and photos by Leslie Elder Rogers.
Travis Tritt has been performing country music for over 27 years and shows no signs of stopping. Last week he stopped in Macon, GA to perform an intimate acoustic show at the Macon City Auditorium. As he walked across the stage, he greeted the fans with a smile, a wave and immediately sat down with his guitar and began playing. He played the first three songs without pause. It was just the music, the lyrics and the excited fans listening attentively.
On top of being an entertainer, Tritt is a talker as well. On stage, he shared moments that helped shape his life and his desire to perform country music. The music he played was brilliantly executed and felt intimate and personal. His first words to the crowd were after the fourth song when he expressed how good it felt to be back in Macon, Georgia. Tritt spent a lot of time in Macon back in the 80’s playing clubs and bars. Some of his biggest hit songs were also written here in Macon.
Although to some it may sound a bit morbid, he used to hang out at Rose Hill Cemetery quite often at Duane Allman and Berry Oakley’s graves. Tritt talked about his opinion of himself in the 80’s. He said he thought he looked pretty stupid, always wearing a faded black Harley Davidson t-shirt with faded blue jeans and long hair. That look was accompanied by carrying around a briefcase full of hundreds of songs he wrote. Unknown to many, he carried that very briefcase to Rose Hill Cemetery where he wrote his first song “Put Some Drive In That Country”, which surprisingly became a huge hit for him.
Thank God for that briefcase. He soon found out the importance of it following the release of the song that gave him his big break in 1989,“Country Club”. Not only did it become a top ten single, it also became one of the largest selling country music singles that Warner Bros. Records.
Tritt further elaborated stating that briefcase held the songs that we would find on that album, the next album and each release to follow. He continued to express his love for Macon and everything Macon represents, especially from a music stand point. Being the home of Little Richard, the beginning of Capricorn Records and the Allman Brothers made it a huge deal to him. He went on to talk about Otis Redding and in his own words he said, “it doesn’t get any better than that”. They are some of the biggest influences he’s ever had.
In a typical year, Travis Tritt does somewhere between 130-150 shows a year with his full band. For this show it was simply Tritt and his acoustic guitar. It was amazing how pure his songs sounded stripped down, simple and raw. Fans were able to sit back, really listen to each chord and lyric. His set list consisted of songs that have been around a while. Some were his songs, some were his own version of songs from other artists that he’s admired in his own life. As he performed “Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man”, the crowd roared forcefully with him.
Travis Tritt shared numerous funny stories of his life over the years, especially with his social media experiences. His giggles were so infectious that everyone in the crowd was laughing loudly as he detailed his life stories for us.
He’s also had some not so funny experiences as well. He admits freely that he has no filter. His Tweets clearly demonstrated his lack of filter when he recently got into a mess by commenting on the current state of country music. His statement was that he no longer hears much country in the world of country music anymore. This statement followed his performance of “Country Ain’t Country”. A song that was written many years ago, before the changes in the country music scene were as evident.
When he was just a boy he heard Bobby Bare perform a version of “500 Miles”. It wasn’t until later that he learned it was originally a Jerry Reed song. He enjoyed both versions so much he decided he wanted to cover the song. Tritt said he’s never been anywhere near the guitar player that Jerry Reed was but it didn’t stop him from trying. As he began playing the guitar on stage, it felt like it could have been Jerry Reed. He embraced the guitar with so much passion as he picked the strings. He paid tribute to the men he admired so deeply. It was a sincere trip down memory lane for Tritt.
Travis Tritt was dazzling on stage both musically and personally. He kept the fans engaged in each song he played with his personal thoughts in between. There was nothing but love in the house for Tritt on this night. It was entertaining as I watched many of the fans who attempted to dance from their seats. Even though there was no room for such antics, it didn’t matter. The fans were loud and proud and there was no way he left the show without feeling the love from them.
During the next few songs, “Drift off to Dream” and “Help Me Hold On”, the crowd held their hands up as they swayed to the music. It was sweet and touching. He included the fans as he requested the crowd to sing along loudly with him.
Anxiously we waited for the next song, a fan favorite, “Here’s a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares”. He did edit the lyrics at one point to keep up with changing times to “here’s an iPhone, call someone who cares”. He took us back to his youth when cell phones, the internet or Google didn’t exist and if you had to look up what something meant you used a physical dictionary.
We learned of his love of the Redneck Dictionary because it puts things in terminology that he understands. Music is not all about the lyrics. The Redneck Dictionary defines instrumental as “there ain’t no singing”. There was loud amusement in the crowd at that statement.
So many amazing songs and short clips of songs were chosen to be part of his performance. I am not sure he could’ve made this show any better. It was obvious that he enjoyed himself on stage just as much as the fans enjoyed his performance. I was captivated when he sang “Anymore”. It will always be a personal favorite of mine.
One of his closest friends and biggest inspirations was Waylon Jennings so he paid tribute to Waylon by performing a medley that included “Are You Sure Hank Done This Way”, “Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and “Just the Good Ol’ Boys”. His Willie Nelson impersonation wasn’t too bad either. He also wanted to do something different on this tour and since he’s never covered or recorded a Beatles song he decided to include one in his show. “Help” was the song he chose and his version was mellow, subtle and mimicked the sound of a love song. It was a risky choice to make such a drastic change to, but it worked and the crowd loved it. Tritt then ended the evening with “T.R.O.U.B.L.E.”. Had he skipped that final song, I would’ve left feeling like something was missing. It was the perfect song to end the night.
There aren’t many concerts I’ve attended that left me feeling like I actually got to know some intimate details and backstories about the artist. The setting tonight was very intimate and Travis Tritt treated it like a special performance. He made it personal, amusing, fun, entertaining and energetic.
Full set list:
It’s All About the Money
Where Corn Don’t Grow
The Pressure Is On
I’m Gonna Be Somebody
Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man
Country Ain’t Country
Drift Off to Dream
Help Me Hold On
Here’s a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares
Pickin’ At It
Come and Go Blues
The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’
Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?
Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys
Just the Good Ol’ Boys
It’s A Great Day to be Alive
Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde