Double Trouble - Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart Together Again in Tri-Cities

This appeared in the Tri-City Herald - September 13, 1996

Country music star Travis Tritt describes his music as having three parts. He calls it the "Travis Tritt Triangle." He says the music is one part "straight-ahead country," with influence from musicians such as George Jones; one part "country ballad or folk," influenced by Larry Gatlin and James Taylor; and one part "real straight-ahead Southern rock," influenced by Charlie Daniels and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Tritt joins his good buddy and fellow country music star Marty Stuart when their "Double Trouble" tour hits the Tri-Cities Coliseum on Saturday. The tour is the second for the duo, after a highly successful "No Hats" tour of 1992. The pairing brings together two country music singers with varying backgrounds and a "brotherlike" love for each other.

Tritt, 34, began playing music at age 18. He was newly married and working for a heating and air conditioning company in Atlanta. "I had been playing clubs at night and was having more fun and making more money doing that than I was at my day job," Tritt said. When his marriage ended after 2-1/2 years, he decided it was time to make a change.

"I realized I was by myself at that point and was pretty much living my life for everyone else," he said. So in 1983, the 21-year-old began playing music full time. During the years, his music has been placed into many categories, including blues, rock 'n' roll, Southern rock and country rock. Although Tritt says putting his music into one particular group is unfair to him and his music, he is dedicated to his roots.

"I consider myself to be a country music singer first. Even though I have long hair and I'm the 'rebel rocker,' I'm a country singer first." Tritt's latest album, The Restless Kind, which he co-produced, is about the journey of growing up and deals with returning home and going back to your roots.

Tritt said it reflects his experiences. His grandfather was a farmer and his family continued to work in the fields while Tritt grew up. He hated it.

The young man in The Restless Kind wants to get away and separate himself from what the world expects. "He's kind of like I was when I was younger," Tritt said. "I was constantly on the move and didn't let the grass grow under my feet."

The album deals with the ups and downs of life and love and the last song "Where Corn Don't Grow," presents the message that running away isn't nearly as important as coming home. Tritt said the song relates to real life.

"A lot of people find themselves running right back into the very thing that they ran away from," he said. As for Tritt, he wishes he had time to work in the fields like he used to when he was young.

"These days, I would love to have the time to plant a garden," he said. He now lives on a 75-acre hay farm in the small community of Hiram, Georgia. "It's basically taken me back to my roots," he said, adding that he plans to marry his girlfriend Theresa Nelson in April.

The album also includes a duet with Stuart called "Double Trouble." The two are busy with their 70-city "Double Trouble" tour, which ends in November.

The singers first met briefly backstage in 1990 at the Country Music Awards. Tritt said the two of them looked at each other and said, "Hey, I really like your stuff." Several months later, Stuart sent Tritt the music for "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'."

"It just seemed like a song I was meant to sing," Tritt said. Stuart planned to play guitar on the song and, while they were rehearsing, someone asked Marty to sing some, Tritt said. So he did both.

The successful duet led to the "No Hats" tour four years ago. Today, the two are great friends. "We're literally like brothers," Tritt said, "I've always been completely blown away by what happens when we perform together. With us, it's like one and one makes three." Tritt said the "Double Trouble" tour is fun, exciting and energetic. "We feel the excitement from the crowd, and we ball it up and throw it right back at them.

The concert provides a mix of Tritt's music, Stuart's music and combined energetic performances.

Stuart, 38, said the three-hour show is energetic. "Travis is a powerful singer and powerful performer and I don't back up from anything on stage either," he said. "That makes for a very strong performance."

Stuart's new album, Honky Tonkin's What I Do Best, includes a duet with Tritt on the title track. The album brings together honky tonk, hillbilly, rock, traditional country and progressive country. "I've never been concerned about what anybody else was doing," Stuart said.

Stuart, who lives in Nashville, said his music has many influences, including the Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters and Johnny Cash.

He got an early start on his career as the 13-year old "Boy Wonder" in Lester Flatt's bluegrass band, performed at the Grand Ole Opry and grew up in Mississippi and on the road. After Flatt died in 1979, Stuart played with fiddler Vassar Clements and acoustic guitarist Doc Watson. He then moved on to a six-year stint as guitarist with his former father-in-law, the legendary Johnny Cash. In 1982, he released his first solo album, Busy Bee Cafe.

Stuart said he always has taken his music seriously and works hard to make music that will last. "The only thing I've tried to do is be true to the roots and build on them." He describes his new album as natural, good music from the people around him and influenced by music legends.

"It's just about being fearless and having fun. It's like somebody said to me, 'You sounded like you grew up, but you got over it.' "

Tritt said "fun" is a strong theme of the "Double Trouble" tour. "It's been one of the most energetic and fun tours since the last time Marty and I toured four years ago," Tritt said.

By Kristi Kiteley

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