2016 gigs, Instrumental music and David Bowie

A few weeks ago the music world lost a Rock ‘n Roll hero. As I sit here listening to the masterpiece that is Blackstar, A lot of feelings wash over me and I find myself biting back the tears. For a lot of people, David Bowie has always been a part of the Rock ‘n Roll mythos, a huge part of so many music fans musical landscape. It’s difficult to imagine a world without his style, his creative flair and his amazing, almost other worldly  contribution to Rock ‘n Roll.

His passing has had an effect on my own creative output, mostly causing me to take a hard look at what I do only to come to the conclusion that things need stepping up. Bowie set the bar so high and by re-assessing my own work, I’ve discovered that I’ve somehow created a ceiling for my own creativity based on a genre and a distinct style of writing that I’ve developed over the years. This is partly by design and partly by environmental expectations of the current state of the music industry.

While living in LA (attending music seminars, conventions, industry talks, etc.) the talking points regarding a career in music often contain the advice, “Don’t make music that is hard to describe. Industry types are not looking for diverse acts that play many different styles of music. Develop a signature style and stick with that. The music industry seeks artists that they can market easily.” If they cannot put you in a musical box, they cannot market you to a demographic, etc. blah blah blah…

Most of the music I grew up admiring were bands that flip flopped musical styles on a regular basis. David Bowie was often described as a musical chameleon and I would often enjoy genres ranging from hard rock, rockabilly, progressive rock, vaudeville, folk and opera just by listing to a Queen CD from start to finish. I of course understand the value of marketing a sound and I have definitely spent a lot of time solidifying my own style, however a part of me always relishes the fact that all my own releases have hints of blues, country, folk and alternative rock and even a waltz or two. One of the biggest lessons I’m getting from Bowies passing is the permission to stop playing it safe. Musical experimentation is key to keeping things fresh. Breaking out of my own self imposed musical box is going to be a goal of mine in 2016 thanks to David Bowie.

The day after his passing, I needed to release some pressure. I found myself in my studio learning one of my fave Bowie songs, the opening track from side A of the Ziggy Stardust album, Five Years. I decided to record an acoustic version as a tribute. I felt like hell that morning still processing the loss and honestly I did not want to do anything except lay in bed feeling terrible about it. What got me to set up my audio/video equipment was the realization that if Bowie was in the position of recording a tribute to one of his musical heros, he would not only set up the equipment to make it happen, but he would also contact a stylist, get into wardrobe and apply his make up in a way that no one has ever seen. Knowing that that’s what Bowie would do, It made it easier for me to put in the effort.

Here is the result of the tribute recording! Enjoy:

 

The effort definitely paid off as I was asked to perform as part of a Bowie Tribute concert in Berkeley on Feb 13th at The Marsh Cabaret Bar. The event is called Life on Mars: An East Bay tribute to art and music of David Bowie. Here is a link to the FB event invite if you would like to attend:

https://www.facebook.com/events/973773532670926/

On the heels of the Bowie tribute show, my group will be supporting Striking Matches at Hotel Utah in San Francisco on Saturday, Feb 20th.  Striking Matches are from Nashville and their debut CD was produced by T Bone Burnett. Musically speaking, if T Bone Burnett is behind this act, it’s gonna be an astounding night. Getting advance tickets for the show is recommended and can be done via http://hotelutah.com If you would like to RSVP for this show, you can also do that here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/893810517380927/

I’ve also been asked to play as a featured songwriter at The Empress Theatre in Vallejo, CA on Wedensday, March 2nd as part of their Wednesday night Ramble. I’ll be performing 8 of my best songs with The North Bay All Stars (featuring Don Bassey, Mike Emerson, Kevin Fraizer, T Moran, and Matthew Silva) backing me up! What a night that’s gonna be. The Empress Theatre is located at 330 Virginia Street in downtown Vallejo for those of you reading this who may want to attend.

The last 2016 gig I can announce is my band’s return to Smileys Saloon in the secluded beach town of Bolinas. We are returning to Smileys on Friday May 13th and absolutely cannot wait to do so! Smileys is such a cute destination spot right on the coast and Smileys is something of an institution. A lot of great up and coming and legendary acts perform there. I believe our friends The Coffis Brothers are going to be there this coming weekend. If you’ve not seen them live, they are certainly worth the trip. I hope y’all come out to see The BTB at Smileys as well. All the info for this string of upcoming gigs can be found at my official website:

http://briantravis.com

That’s about all the news I have at the moment. I’m in the process of booking more shows in the Bay Area and writing new material. I’ll leave you now with a recent composition called “West Of The San Andreas”. It’s an instrumental (my very FIRST composition without lyrics) and I hope you enjoy it!

 

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