Travis Tritt at Burnsville Performing Arts Center, 10/13/10

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Photo by Nikki Miller
Travis Tritt
October 13, 2010
Burnsville Performing Arts Center

Prologue: How does one write sincerely yet un-self-consciously about the solo and acoustic performance of one of her favorite performers from her adolescence? She gets very drunk, that is how. Brutal, unabashed and most heartfelt honesty to follow.

It's possible you don't know about Travis Tritt, either because it's no longer the 90s (his Billboard charting heyday) or because you don't listen to country music (whatever, dude). For the uninitiated, whether it's that you listen not to country music (whatever, dude), or you are simply out of touch with that beautiful, fruitful era that was 90s country, best I can put it: Travis Tritt's the kinda guy whose music you crank way the motherfuck up and croon along to in your car, be it a beater pickup or a shiny new Prius, when you feel like you hate your job. You hate your man (or your lady, as applicable). And furthermore, for when (gasp) you come to that painful realization that no one around you carries the same vast appreciation you have for the awesomeness that is 90s country (double, no, triple gasp. Come on, people, have I taught you nothing about this?).

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Photo by Nikki Miller

Oh, you haven't had that experience? Sorry for the autobiographical aside. Trust me, it's a painful place to be in, wrought with desperate, angsty feelings remedied only by lyrics like Tritt's, those filled with details from his own autobiography about failed (and failed, and failed again...yet perhaps this time a little hopeful? Maybe? Please?) love. About how the working man gets stomped the hell down, and that's just the way it is - lament, and drink a beer in honor of this reality. About how country no longer knows what it means to be country. And remedied also by the lyrics' to-hell-with-it-anyway, let's-have-a-drink-and-salute-this-ridiculous-life rock-soul-country-Hey Waylon! delivery.

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Photo by Nikki Miller

Ah, but herein sits the rub. Listening to Travis Tritt's Wednesday night show at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, I get the sense that it's not all that bad. Let's not get all that drunk on account of difficult employment situations and relationship scenarios (and, most importantly, on account of an under-appreciation of 90s country, much as we'd like to be it as it's just so hard to deal). My boyfriend, during Tritt's show, bought me a Travis Tritt can koozie. I get them at pretty much any show that sells 'em for five bucks or less, then I forget to carry them and complain perpetually that my hands are too cold, my drinks too warm. Anyway, the reverse side of that koozie, in its 90s-era designer font, read: Great Day to Be Alive.

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Photo by Nikki Miller

Here's where fans of 90s country get extra credit - that's a popular Travis Tritt song. The one I cite as personal mantra, of sorts. Listen to it. Learn. That damned koozie reminded me that yes, in spite of it all, it is a great day to be alive (shut up, for most of you, it is if you only learn to identify and be down with what's truly important). Perspective shift at a suburban arts venue, dig it. But what I'm getting at is that in spite of his lyrics of hardship, Tritt seems the kind of guy who lives by this creed - that it's a great day to be alive - and it's damned contagious.

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Photo by Nikki Miller

I'm clearly down on life and trying to convince myself of some new motto to make myself feel better about things. Let's bring it down to the matter at hand; Travis Tritt, in spite of his lyrics rooted in the difficulties of the working class, downtrodden and those challenged in the realm of relationships, is a downright cheerful guy. Taking the stage for his solo acoustic performance confidently as they come - and for good reason: damn, the man looks good in his tight leather jeans, brown (something dead) leather boots and black poet's shirt unbuttoned down to whoa - the guy did not at any moment in his two-hour-plus performance stop smiling, or present any reason not to feel goddamned good about life.

Aside from his hypothesized outlook on life, it takes a man with talent and confidence to play solo and acoustic to an intimate setting as he did in Burnsville, a theater seating over a thousand in a small space putting most right under the nose of the performer, and where they raise the house lights between each song so the artist can witness his fans showing their appreciation (or, as I imagine could be the case for a lesser artist, their disinterest).

The man has incredible talent, and a voice clearly influenced as much by Southern Skynyrd rock as by Southern gospel.

Okay, I'm done gushing. See below for setlist and whatnot.

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Photo by Nikki Miller

Critic's Bias: You know what's up. It's called 1992. And I loved it.

The Crowd: My mom and yours. And their classmates, in line behind us for drinks reliving their glory days on the such-and-such suburban volleyball team and reviling in tandem the nasty feet of a shared acquaintance. (I noticed them because they were talking loudly, and stopped talking abruptly when I shed my sensible sweater to display my tattoos in all their gore and offense. Hi ladies.)

Overheard in the Crowd: Something about volleyball and toenails, see above. I think these women think they're the next Lori & Julia, as if we need another.

Random Notebook Dump: Songs like this (Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line") are of their essence - the music and lyrics - meaningful, and over time then also become imbued with additional meaning based on context, but eventually become a part of the cultural background and lose some of their poignancy, that quality that tickles your spine and causes pimples to raise on your skin. Completely re-crafted renditions, as this one is, renew that initial quality held by the pure "yes!"ness of the tune and lyrics themselves. Damn. (This totally made sense when reporter dumped it. If to reader it causes an a-ha moment, reporter owes you a Coke.)

It's All About the Money
Where Corn Don't Grow
The Pressure Is On
I'm Gonna Be Somebody
(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay
Country Ain't Country No Nore
Long Haired Country Boy
Drift Off To Dream
Help Me Hold On
(Song for Father)
Whiskey Ain't Workin'
I Walk the Line
Waylon Jennings medley
Lone Wolf
Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)
It's a Great Day to be Alive
Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde

500 Miles Away from Home
Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man
Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Night Moves

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