"What band are you going to see?"
"My God, I've heard of him!"
Everyone's heard of one of the best pure country musicians of the last 20 years, and we were very excited to finally be going to see him, though Royale isn't the best place to see a concert.
It was an early show and we parked at Sarah's garage right at 5, then hustled over to a [relatively] mellow Jacob Wirth's for dinner, Got on line at Royale just before the doors opened at a bit after 6 and eventually settled on a table to lean against. They had seats on the floor this time, but a lot of people had been in line in front of us and they all grabbed them. Oh well, where we were was fine and later Kate and Mager showed up and were able to lean against the table with us.
The Houston Bernard Band opened, two guys on acoustics, one in boots and tight jeans and the other with a massive man-bun. They were very enjoyable, their songs featured some great country-blues guitar leads, and they did a very cool mix of covers everyone knew and well-crafted originals.
Then Travis came out for his set, solo acoustic, and was superlative. It maybe took a song and a half for him to really warm up, but then his pipes were glowing and he did song after song of delicious, rich, growling, empowering, thrilling country music. Travis has his hard edges like any good country artist does, and he was a bit out of his element since he was all alone with no band to rely on, but this was sweet and totally worked.
He's had a long career with an incredible string of hits, so there was no way he could play everything. But he did some real crowd-pleasers, like his early mega-hit Country Club, along with his popular Here's a Quarter, Call Somebody Who Cares. And they just kept coming! Highlights for me were his doing probably my favorite song of his, Where Corn Don't Grow right off the bat, the classic country Lord Have Mercy On the Working Man, a beautiful, crawling cover of I Walk the Line, a medley of Waylon Jennings songs, and a great Darrell Scott song that he turned into a mega-mega-hit, A Great Day To Be Alive.
Here's the setlist:
- 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 Club
- Country Ain't Country
- 500 Miles Away From Home
- Here's A Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)
- Drift Off to Dream
- Help Me Hold On
- The Whiskey Ain't Workin'
- I Walk the Line
- Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way/Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys / Good Ol' Boys
- It's A Great Day To Be Alive
- Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde
- Night Moves
I snuck out to the men's room during T-R-O-U-B-L-E, thinking we might have a long encore, but there was no encore at all! He'd promised to have us out of there by 9:30 and, though a few minutes late, he was pretty much right on. But whatever, this was a very thrilling experience and he left no question as to his talent.
Hung around with K&M for a bit, then hit the road for the walk back up Beacon Hill and the drive back home.