By Johnny Griffith
Travis Bolt is thankful he’s found his own style. The 26 year old musician from Mabank, Texas remembers a time when, in high school, he would bring his guitar to ag class and play for his friends, while wearing a bandanna on his head. While occasionally some of those pictures will surface and a few laughs are shared, Bolt says while the bandanna has mostly been retired, but the guitar is a permanent fixture now. A full-time musician who can be found on stages around the area, Travis has an eclectic mix of influences and can trace his love of music back to his early days with his family.
We tracked him down to learn a little more about him this month.
Johnny: What is your earliest memory in music?
Travis: My parents would take me to Larry Joe Taylor’s Texas Music Festival down in Stephenville where my dad cooked. It’s where, as a kid, I found my love for entertaining.
Johnny: Who would you say had the most influence on you musically in those early years?
Travis: Songwriters such as Rusty Wier, Van Zandt, and Jerry Jeff Walker. My dad showed me all the best music and the first CD I purchased with my on money was Styx.
Johnny: At what point did you start thinking this was something you wanted to do more with than just be a hobby and perhaps try to make a career out of it?
Travis: As I grew older and started playing my very first shows, I realized being on that stage under the hot lights and hearing the crowd is the biggest adrenaline rush. Although it’s easier nowadays, that feeling has never changed and never will. Making fans that turn into friends, that turn into my musical family is a privilege, and when they love your art it really brings it all together.
Johnny: Who would you say your biggest mentors and supporters were when you were breaking out into the local music scene?
Travis: I had a lot of folks helping and inspiring me along the way, but my dad was the real MVP. He introduced me to so many established artists with a lot of advice to give. Larry Joe Taylor, Davin James, Rusty Wire, and some good friends from my hometown like Bill Burgin of Guitars ETC, and Wesley Pruitt to name a few. I still have a poster Tommy Alverson signed for me that says “Keep on rockin” that I got when I was very young.
Johnny: Do you remember your first show?
Travis: My first “show” was at a bar called Coal Miners. Wesley Pruitt was a teacher of mine for a short time when I was just starting out and had me play a few at his show. Before the song “Wagon Wheel” got over played, the original “Old Crow Medicine Show” version was a favorite of mine. I was about to play it then but as I stepped up to the mic I lost complete memory of the name of the song. I remember saying “Hey guys! My name is Travis Bolt and I’m going to play….uh…..” then I just started playing. It came out of the gate a complete wreck but I still won the crowd over!
Johnny: When did you first start writing your own material?
Travis: That’s a tough one to remember. I will say the first song I wrote that was noteworthy was called “Cherokee Winter.” I was probably around 14 or 15, but everyone loved it. Obviously, I hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol yet, but I did mention beer in it because even at a young age I understood the market. I remember my mom shaking her head but my parents were very proud and that makes it all worth it. I continued on from there and have quite the catalog today.
Johnny: How would you describe your particular style to someone who has never heard you?
Travis: I started playing bluegrass when I got my first guitar and that sticks around in my style still today. But the blues has always been in my soul. From the delta blues and front porch banjo to the pine trees of East Texas Country Music, I would describe my style as a soulfully tasteful mix of blues and folk/songwriter with country roots.
Johnny: You recorded an album that finished up back in 2017. How was that experience and what did you learn from that process that you’ve carried with you moving forward?
Travis: It was a great time and also a great learning experience. I did put way too many good ideas into each song that may have muddied things up a bit but in the end I did it with some great friends and was very proud of the outcome. Special thanks to my boys Calvin Sheffield, Tyler Smith, Justin Barnes, Lanny Guest, and Christian Deibert at the Good Shed Studios.
Johnny: Do you primarily perform with a full band or more solo work these days?
Travis: I do more solo these days. Although my group was very tight we all had great opportunities come out of the business that put us on separate paths. My brothers are all flourishing in the big ocean of the music world and I am very proud of them as I know they are proud of me. But who knows, we might end up knocking the dust off of the band trailer and heading back out sometime soon.
Johnny: What do you have coming up this year that we can look forward to?
Travis: I’ve got a pretty great surprise for my fans this year! I can’t say when but I will say I just got out of the booth with a killer single I cut over at Rosewood Studios that is sure to kick the doors down, as well as plans for a new album on its way in the near future. “Stay tuned” as they say.
Johnny: Who do you listen to in the spare time when you’re not writing or performing?
Travis: I can’t get in the car without some Amos Lee or Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I switch around from the Damn Quails all the way to Breaking Benjamin depending on what I’m doing. Too much great music out there for one interview for sure.
Follow Travis Bolt at facebook.com/travis.bolt.90.