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Legendary rocker Pat Travers playing Winston-Salem March 21

by C. Howard

For those of us old enough to remember, there was a time when you experienced live rock and roll by listening to albums like Frampton Comes Alive, Cheap Trick at Budokan and Kiss Alive — you put them on and dreamed yourself into the audience. The late ’70s were rich with these great documents. These gatefold LPs held a world of electric guitars, huge grooves and screaming audiences praising the fruits of the labors of musicians who truly gave of themselves in their performances. One of the last of these great live albums was an album released in 1979 called Go For what You Know, featuring a Canadian guitarist/ vocalist and his top notch band. Featuring songs such as “Boom Boom (out go the lights)”, this LP showcased the powerful vocals and tremendous guitar skills of Pat Travers. Thirty years later, and Pat Travers is still honing his guitar skills and songwriting. On Saturday, Pat brings his brand of rock and blues to the Millennium Center in Winston- Salem in support of his latest release, Stick With What You Know.

I had the privilege of talking to Mr. Travers recently. We discussed his new live CD, and upcoming studio release and what to expect at his Winston Salem show.

Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk to me!

It’s my pleasure. We’ve got a show coming up there in Winston Salem next weekend on the 21 st .

So, you’re touring to promote the new live album, Stick With What You Know?

I am working all the time. I am either playing shows or writing another album. The thing with this album is we recorded it about two years ago in Weert, Holland. Initially , I thought it was just going to be used for a European release, but then my record label in Europe started a label over here in the States and released it. In the meantime I have recorded a brand new studio album that we are going to start mixing next week.

Do you have a projected street date on that?

As soon as possible. I think it has been put back on the front burner because my producer Steve Thompson, like I said, is going to start mixing next week. We are working on getting distribution and licensing, but I think this cd is not just another cd. It is the culmination of my entire life of playing music. I have utilized everything I have learned and know, and the songs and performances are very strong. We did Rockline a few weeks ago, you can check it out at rocklineradio.com , and we are probably gonna package that performance and sell it at gigs. It has some of the brand new songs on it. Just great songs live, that are fun to play. If anyone wants to check them out- go to that website, go to archives and go to the February 25 th show.

These new tracks… are you staying true to the legacy sound of Pat Travers with the big guitars and groove?

Oh yeah! What I did was thought back… I am always hearing, “He’s funky and he’s this and that,” so I went back and thought of where it all came from. When I started playing guitar in 1969 or something when I was very young, I would go see any band I could… this was back in Canada… and there were a lot of soul bands. A lot of horn bands.with great singers. Also there was Mitch Ryder and Bob Seger and that whole Detroit sound and then the Staxx sound as well, Otis Redding and all that. So I kept that uppermost in my mind as I was writing. I wanted that kind of feel, where the groove just grabs you. I think I succeeded. There is one song called “Ask Me Baby”, that for me, captures a soul tune from ’66.

When you talk about Pat Travers , you always hear about the guitars, but I think you have been underrated as a vocalist…

That is another thing. On this new album, I feel very confident about my vocals. I have always been a little shy about my vocals. Over the last few years, I have just gotten a lot more power and a lot more control. I have been training in martial arts for about five years, and I think that has definitely has a lot to do with it.

You mention that your latest release, “Stick with what you know” was recorded in Europe. Do you find that rock, or guitar rock is better received overseas?

They particularly like the blues. That is why on the new live album we do “Red House,” and a Robert Johnson song, and an Albert King tune.

You mention some great blues guitarist there. Can you name any one influence on your playing?

I started playing right before the big guitar explosion… Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix… all of these guys were all around the same time… Duane Allman, Dicky Betts… it was just, it was incredible. They are all players, that within two notes, you know who it is playing the guitar. I was influenced by them all, and then some other guys that you’ve never heard of. There is this guy named Snuffy

Any thought s on the state of rock music today?

I am seeing more and more young people at my shows. I see dads bringing their sons, uncles bringing them or whatever. So it is kind of cool. That is the way music should be. There shouldn’t be so many categories and taboos. Music is music. That is what I am hoping to do with my new studio albumreach a broader audience without sacrificing my integrity or doing something that I don’t want to do, just to try to please an audience.

Over the course of Pat Traver’s career, more than 25 albums, it is clear that he has remained true to himself musically. He brings his brand of funky, bluesy guitar rock to Winston Salem’s Millennium Center on Saturday.

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